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McGurn’s warning Top strength and conditioning coach says some senior GAA teams are training more than the All Blacks

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Words of warning: Mike McGurn. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Words of warning: Mike McGurn. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Words of warning: Mike McGurn. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Top strength and conditioning coach Mike McGurn says inter-county players are over-trained and that much of their physical preparation is unsuited to the requirements of Gaelic games.

McGurn has coached at the highest level in a range of sports, working with the Ireland and New Zealand rugby teams and in the Premier League with Everton, as well as a spell with professional boxer Bernard Dunne, helping him win a world Super Bantamweight title.

The Fermanagh native’s GAA experience is extensive as well. He has trained championship-winning teams in four counties – Derry (Ballinderry), Down (Kilcoo), Armagh (Crossmaglen) and Antrim (Lámh Dhearg). But he says his involvement with the Armagh footballers will be his last at inter-county level.

McGurn believes most county teams are taking the wrong approach, often to the long-term detriment of players.

“I would not go back into county GAA for love nor money, because I don’t want to be a hypocrite. In my eyes they’re doing too much training, and a lot of it is unnecessary.

“The mentality is – if you do five days, that’s good, but if you do six, it’s better – but it’s not. I worked with the All Blacks in 2008, and a lot of senior county football teams are doing more training than the All Blacks. That’s not an exaggeration, that’s the reality.

“A lot of county teams are doing training that has no relevance to Gaelic football whatsoever. One of the fundamentals that we look at – kick, catch, put the ball over the bar, and tackle.

“It doesn’t take much more than that, but yet they’re doing things that have no relevance to that. But it ticks the boxes, and I don’t agree with it.”

The club scene is where he feels the correct balance can be found, and it’s what drew him back to Gaelic football and a new role with Tyrone club Clonoe O’Rahillys this season.

“When I went to Lámh Dhearg three years ago, it was like a breath of fresh air. It was good craic and I wanted to be there and I wanted to do it. My children are at the club.

“It was pure, everyone was honest, and I really loved it, so I said to myself, if I ever go back into the GAA, it will be with a club. I don’t want to go back into county football, because I wouldn’t enjoy it.”

McGurn warned that top-level players are being placed at risk by their training regimes.

“Somewhere down the line in their careers, there might be an injury which somebody has to be accountable for, and who’s going to say, well that was my fault? Nobody.

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“Some of the counties are brilliant. Peter Donnelly in Tyrone has done a fantastic job, because he realises it’s about the football.

“It’s not about what you can lift in the gym or what you can run on the track. It’s what you do on a Sunday on the pitch.”

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