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Mayo to play by GAA rules on training

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TEAM WORK Mayo manager James Horan and Mayo GAA chairman Liam Moffatt are pictured in Ballyhaunis in 2011. They are both involved in Mayo’s ‘collaborative approach’ to address the issue of access to club and county players.

Liam Moffatt confirms county squads won’t return to training until September 14

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Mike Finnerty

COUNTY Board chairman Liam Moffatt has confirmed that Mayo GAA ‘are aligned to the official GAA guideline of September 14’ in relation to the return of inter-county training sessions, and says that none of Mayo’s three flagship inter-county squads, who will be competing later this year, will return to collective training until then.
Instead, Mayo GAA has taken ‘a collaborative approach’ to try and solve the contentious issue of clubs having access to members of inter-county squads for training sessions and games over the next 10 weeks.
This approach comprises of a number of elements, including a recent online webinar organised by coaching officer Declan O’Reilly between club managers, James Horan and members of his backroom team.
The Mayo News has learned that following those discussions, members of the Mayo senior coaching and backroom team attended a number of club training sessions, as well as providing club managers and coaches with practical support and advice around training, strength and conditioning, injury prevention and rehab.
The recent webinar signalled the start of this ‘two-way communication’ and feedback from clubs is believed to have been positive.
James Horan is understood to have taken part in a Ballintubber training session last week while one of his coaches, Ciaran McDonald, was involved in sessions with both the Breaffy and Belmullet senior squads.
GAA chiefs at Croke Park are reported to have told all County Board chairpersons last Friday that the date for a return to collective training for inter-county squads will not be moved forward from September 14.
Speaking to The Mayo News, Liam Moffatt described last week’s briefing with GAA officials as ‘productive’ and he explained the thinking behind Mayo GAA’s approach which has been designed to try and ‘help clubs and advise them on best practice’.
“Mayo GAA’s position is that we will follow the September 14 guideline from Croke Park,” he said. “There will be no training sessions for our inter-county teams — senior footballers, senior hurlers and minor footballers — until then.
“We’ve taken a collaborative approach to this and our inter-county managers — Tomás Morley [minor football], Derek Walsh [senior hurling] and James Horan — have been really good to work with.
“There’s a common goal here. Everybody wants every player to be available to play every game, club and county. I think it’s fair to say we all want that. Nobody wants to see any player missing out due to injury.
“We’re fortunate that we have a backroom team and a staff that are able to support our clubs. And clubs know that our door is open if they have a query about training, strength and conditioning or anything like that.
“So it’s great to see that two-way communication happening and this will continue.
“We’re also lucky in Mayo that in recent years, due to the S&C and coaching education programmes carried out by the likes of Connacht GAA and GMIT Mayo, that a lot of club coaches have got exposure to strength and conditioning education modules,” added Moffatt, “And a lot of people in our clubs have become really educated in this area.
“Then when the likes of Conor Finn (Mayo S&C coach), Mark Gallagher (Mayo physio) and James [Horan] came on the calls with the clubs, you had many club managers and coaches who understand about ‘training load’, how the body responds to it, and that will hopefully transfer on now to benefit clubs and their players.”

Monitoring
MOFFATT, who works full-time as a sports and exercise medicine physiotherapist, also clarified that while Mayo’s inter-county squads would not be training collectively until mid-September, they would continue to be ‘monitored’ and ‘assessed’ ahead of their respective competitions.
“There is monitoring going on with inter-county players, and there should be, in terms of injuries, their fitness, and their overall feedback. Inter-county players need to inter-act, they are going to be playing on October 17, so they have to be monitored and they have to be supported within Government and GAA guidelines.”
Moffatt has made no secret of his desire to put clubs at the centre of Mayo GAA’s decision-making process since becoming County Board chairman last December, and there have been a number of video conference calls between senior Mayo GAA officials and club chairpersons since the Covid-19 shutdown in March.
The Crossmolina native said that his message to clubs about an issue that has dominated headlines in recent weeks revolved around practical support and a common-sense approach.
“If you have a club player who’s also a county player, and you have concerns, our door is open,” said Moffatt.
“Our team managers, backroom team and County Board officers are more than willing to engage with anyone in any club and help them.
“There’s a huge amount of anecdotal opinion about county teams training or not training. What may be missing from the narrative in my opinion is, what’s actually going on in training sessions in clubs? And can we work together to further develop knowledge in this area?
“I think if we look at some of the things our backroom team outlined — two high-intensity sessions a week, one low-intensity session; if a player has been out with an injury for a while, don’t overtrain in an attempt to catch up because it can lead to bigger problems down the line.
“Bring all the aspects of the game into training; look at pitch sizes, training duration, make sure they’re exposed to sprinting, turning and landing in training because that’s how most injuries can happen in a game.
“So what we’re trying to do is help our clubs, advise on best practice, and get that club feedback. It’s the way it should be and, hopefully, the way it’s going to be in the new normal.”

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