GAA should allow players train in small groups for physical and mental health

GAA should allow players train in small groups for physical and mental health
Aidan O'Mahony, Kerry bursting past John Hayes at Croke Park. Picture: Dan Linehan

AIDAN O'Mahony believes inter-county players have been left "totally in limbo" by pushing the season out to October.

The former Kerry defender is now a Paddy Power GAA columnist and also runs AOM Fitness. The Association this week banned training until further notice with July 20 the earliest GAA pictures will re-open, which is a very frustrating scenario for hurlers and footballers.

"There’s only two weeks of the league left, but now it’s pushed back until October – being an ex inter-county player, your mindset is telling you that we’ll have no championship this year," wrote O'Mahony on the Paddy Power website.

"That’s just the way your thought process is and it’s very tough on players. All the work that has been done up to now has gone out of the window, you’re starting all over again.

"You’re talking six months. It appears a case of ‘we’ll see in October’. For me, the main thing is the false hope that’s there now. If someone came out and said the championship was moved until 2021, then you’d say fair enough."

Michael Sheridan, Mercy University Hospital Foundation, Assistant Garda Commissioner Anne-Marie McMahon and Garda Aidan O'Mahony hanging signed Cork and Kerry GAA Jerseys in St Anne's Ward, Mercy University Hospital, in 2017. Picture: Darragh Kane
Michael Sheridan, Mercy University Hospital Foundation, Assistant Garda Commissioner Anne-Marie McMahon and Garda Aidan O'Mahony hanging signed Cork and Kerry GAA Jerseys in St Anne's Ward, Mercy University Hospital, in 2017. Picture: Darragh Kane

O'Mahony argues that if there is a 2020 championship, then allowing small groups of players return for light training would have been the better scenario.

"I think opening up the pitches on May 18 and having players return to training, in groups of four and social distancing, would have been important and beneficial. And beneficial for players’ mental health.

"You were giving the players the option of even going and training on their own on the football pitch, and not drawing the crowds in. That would’ve been a very good option.

"Now you’re going to have the case of players running on roads and looking for places to go training."

The GAA stated last week they were were against playing behind closed doors.

"I don’t know if the GAA were put under pressure by what An Taoiseach said on the Late Late Show last week, but I hope it’s not about money and it’s more about the players. Like a case of ‘we’re not opening the gates because there’s no financial reward coming in’.

"There’s a lot of talk that the GAA won’t open Croke Park unless there’s a full house. If the players are happy to play behind closed doors, then go for it.

"It’s the same on the club scene – if the games are to go ahead, it should come down to what the players want.

"So I’d be in favour of an All-Ireland series behind closed doors, and I think the players would too. At the end of the day, players just want to play."

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