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Training vital warns Moyna

'Session must be game specific'

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PRESSURE: Niall Moyna believes GAA players will have to be managed carefully. Photo: SPORTSFILE

PRESSURE: Niall Moyna believes GAA players will have to be managed carefully. Photo: SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

PRESSURE: Niall Moyna believes GAA players will have to be managed carefully. Photo: SPORTSFILE

The earlier than flagged return to training and games for GAA players could lead to a raft of injuries if not properly managed, DCU's Head of the School of Health and Human Performance Professor Niall Moyna has warned.

The GAA's return to play protocols now closely mirror government policy, with confirmation over the weekend that pitches will open for non-contact training from tomorrow while challenge games will be allowed from Monday (June 29) before a return of official club fixtures from July 17.

And Moyna, who is part of Brian Mullins' backroom team with St Vincent's in Dublin, insists that players will have to be managed carefully as they return to full contact games after a prolonged period of inactivity.

"It's about time on feet now and every single session has to be game specific," said the Monaghan native.

"You can train until the cows come home and you can do it day after day. But it won't prepare you for the intensity and physicality of going back into playing games.

"In the early Bundesliga games there was a very high number of injuries. So if you look at the professional teams with all the support structures around them and they are getting injures. So I think it is going to be a problem (for club players).

"You can ease the players back in and focus on games and time on feet. So say every player plays 20 minutes of a game the first night. 25 minutes on the second night and so on … And at this stage if you are working on fitness I think you'll be left behind, the focus now has to be 'let's get back to match sharpnes s'."

Many club players will have kept their fitness up at home but Moyna warned that is a long way from replicating the stresses that will be put on a body in a game scenario.

"The best example I can give you is when you are running and a defender comes to meet you and you plant the foot and try to sell a dummy.

Enormous

"That's called eccentric contraction. You are changing direction and that puts enormous stress on your muscle. And that can cause small micro tears and damage, what we call muscle soreness. A lot of players will be very sore for anywhere from 24 to 72 hours after their first session. That's because of the lengthening of the muscle very rapidly.

"And you won't replicate that, even if you are training with your friends on a regular basis. That's game specific, and in game specific training, you are always reacting, you are not the one making the decision normally. It's not as if you are in control of the movement.

"You see people starting to work on their agility and they run around poles, I always say to them people never run around poles in a game, they react to something so it is reactive agility. And it's that reactive movement that can cause micro traumas and micro tears to the muscle.

"If you have an underlying predisposition and a weakness, the likelihood is you have an increased chance of picking up injury."

Keeping players off the physio table will be a priority for club and county managers across the country and they face into an intense period of activity. And Moyna believes it could help redress the ratio of training to games which has long been bemoaned by some in the GAA.

Former Tyrone star Philip Jordan reckoned that in one season he trained 15 times for every game he played with the county.

"The key thing is players want to play and it's great because it will stop us over training. The focus now will be game - recovery - game - recovery. And a good game is as good as two or three training sessions.

"I don't think too many players are going to have to walk in on day one and play a knock out championship game. Most counties are going to give them either a back door or some form of a league run-in to the championship.

"I can't account for every scenario but if you get your players right and their recovery it is amazing how close they will be to match fitness. And in the process we will be reducing training and focusing on playing games."