herald

Friday 9 December 2016

Cullen role is a must for all boards

Others should follow Dublin's 'cost neutral' high performance blueprint, says Moyna

Bryan Cullen Photo: Sportsfile
Bryan Cullen Photo: Sportsfile

Dublin GAA's appointment of Bryan Cullen as 'high performance manager' has elicited plenty of debate and no shortage of envy from counties with pockets that don't run as deep as those out in Donnycarney.

Yet according to Niall Moyna, every county board should have their own 'Dr Cullen' overseeing strength and conditioning programmes across all their teams.

Moreover, says DCU's senior football manager, it won't even cost any more than they are currently forking out.

Apart from his various Sigerson Cup winning successes with DCU, Professor Moyna's own day job is as head of the school of health and human performance at the northside university.

Burnout

Thus, he is eminently qualified to discuss the merits or demerits of physical preparation at inter-county level, and how many elite young players are paying a long-term price because of over-training and burnout.

He knows Cullen well through DCU, and can see only benefits in the Dublin county board's decision to coax him from Leinster rugby, where he had been working for the past four years.

The man who skippered Dublin to All-Ireland glory in 2011 - and who recently completed his PhD in DCU - will be entrusted with "developing a long-term player pathway from juvenile to senior level for the county's players". He will also take a "lead role" in the strength and conditioning of all Dublin inter-county teams, the county board announced last Thursday night.

This has prompted inevitable complaints that this will further widen the competitive gulf between Dublin and many of their more impoverished rival counties, especially in Leinster, who have already been cast adrift in the past decade.

However, it needn't be like that, says Moyna.

"I advocated that (the appointment of high performance managers) a decade ago at the first GAA conference," he pointed out. "And I think if every county in Ireland did that ... the money they're spending currently on medical fees is just ridiculous.

"I think it's €15 to €18 million a year the GAA is spending on medical issues. They're paying strength and conditioning teams for minor, U21 and senior. Why not bring in one person who oversees all of this, and it would be cost neutral to every county?

"It's a no-brainer. From what I believe, it's cost neutral to Dublin.

Implications

"Dublin are getting a hard time about it at the moment - but it's cost neutral. They're going to save it from having to employ all of these strength and conditioning people for every team that they have; and they can follow and track these kids to make sure that they add longevity to their careers. I think that's very important. I'd be excited about the move."

As matters stand in many counties, each new managerial appointment brings his own backroom team that will include S&C personnel, with obvious cost implications. But it's not all about the money either: as Moyna pointed out, an experienced appointment such as Cullen can oversee a "long-term programme that looks after the long-term interests of the player".

He added: "If I was a (county) manager in the same boat myself, you get a two or three-year contract ... you don't care what happens in year three. You're there to produce the goods, so you don't care about the long-term development of the players.

"A management comes in, and they start as though the players have done nothing for the last decade, and they run them six, seven, eight weeks."

The Monaghan native then highlighted "anecdotal evidence of a provincial winning minor team of the last five years, where five of their six forwards have had hip surgery. That's worrying".

He concluded: "I think it's one of the smartest things and I hope every other county sees that as a blueprint for the way forward, because I think they'll save financially in the long run and they'll have their players for a much longer period of time. I'm excited about it."

Promoted articles

Entertainment News