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Fennelly: GAA Should Invest In Players’ Physical & Mental Health

Former Kilkenny hurler Micheal Fennelly has said that he believes the GAA should invest in the “physical and mental well-being” of its players.

Speaking at the Electric Ireland Minor Hurling Team of the Year announcement, the eight-time All-Ireland winner outlined that he believes county boards around the country should “invest money into the qualified people” in a bid to aid the overall experience for inter-county players.

“You need qualified people in there,” began Fennelly.

“You need sports psychologists in there. I think that’s going to play a bigger part in years to come. The physical wellbeing, the mental wellbeing of the person.

“But that’s more money, I think the county boards can invest more money into the qualified people. Sports nutritionists, you have them on part-time – I think Kerry have them on full-time.

“Try to look after the wellbeing of the player but at the same time, you’re still switched on. Your nutrition, you’re planning that. Your sleep, you’re planning that.

“You’re like a robot sometimes and that’s hard to sustain that over long periods you need to have that time. Recovery is going to be a big aspect of that and they do have to be a collective session for that but you’re expected to be in your recovery. I think the players want to perform to their best.”

Fennelly who is considered one of the greatest hurlers of his generation was an integral part of Kilkenny’s four in a row All-Ireland winning side from 2006-2009.

The 33-year old retired from inter-county hurling in 2017 and was asked about a recent ESRI study which said that inter-county players spend up to 31 hours a week on county commitments.

 

“Yeah they were saying 31 hours on average and a few years ago I was asked that question and I would always say ’25 hours’ off the cuff without even properly calculating it.

“25 is a lot and now they’re saying 31 – and that was done in 2016. From last year’s fixtures – in terms of the amount of game-time – that has definitely increased “

Despite this figure seeming excessive, Fennelly believes that the actual number would be something far higher considering players are “on the go 24/7 now.”

“More games, more pressure, more stress, so I would suspect that those figures are not accurate,” says Fennelly.

“Whatever it is at the moment it’s definitely higher, without a doubt.

“The fixture list last year, I remember seeing it from the Kilkenny players and other players around the county – the demand is that they’re on the go 24/7 now. Normally, you’d get a week off with your club, that’s how the fixtures used to be after a championship game.

“You’re back with them and you’re kind of on a little bit of a down with your club and you’re chilled out. You might get a social night out – whatever it may be. A bit more time to yourself and your family. But that didn’t really happen this year and the players are on the go 24/7.

“The gym is getting more emphasis as well because you want to prevent injuries and get stronger, build your skill level. And then obviously in the league, if you keep going in the league week-on-week you’re really just making life that much harder for the county players.”

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Michael Fennelly was speaking at the Electric Ireland Minor Hurling Team of the Year announcement. 

Electric Ireland’s ‘This is Major’ initiative is designed to empower young players, and in 2018, the campaign looked to highlight Major Moments in Minor players playing careers. Check out Electric Ireland’s Major Moments video content, featuring the panel of GAA Legends discussing their own major moments at Minor level as well as creative content highlighting the importance of the pre-game ritual by visiting; www.youtube.com/user/ELECTRICIRELAND

Follow the Minors and be a part of the conversation on social using the hashtag, #GAAThisIsMajor or visit @ElectricIreland on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Author: Oisin McQueirns

Oisin McQueirns is a digital journalist at Pundit Arena. Massive fan of Leeds United, Ric Flair and Trusting The Process. Contact him here oisin@punditarena.com