GAA players spending up to 31 hours a week on county commitments

Players said that they compromised on their personal relationships and down-time

Dublin’s Eoin Murchan and Brian Fenton celebrate with the Sam Maguire after beating Tyrone in Croke Park. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Dublin’s Eoin Murchan and Brian Fenton celebrate with the Sam Maguire after beating Tyrone in Croke Park. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

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Inter-county GAA players can spend up to 31 hours of the week on senior county commitments, according to a new ESRI study which has cast light on the strenuous demands players face.

Commissioned by the GAA and the GPA, the study uses data from a survey of 2016 players to examine how the demands of playing inter-county affects players’ personal and professional lives, and their club involvement.

Players said that they compromised on their personal relationships and down-time in order to put more time in inter-county commitments while 40 per cent did not have any time off from Gaelic games in 2016.

Players compromised on sleep, with almost half not getting the eight to ten hours recommended for athletes on a pitch-based training day. The injury rate was higher among players getting seven or less hours sleep. Players’ mental wellbeing was poorer than that of the general population, especially when compared to those of a similar age.

Some of the busiest players were those aged between 18 to 21 as they can be playing for up to four teams including senior county and university.

Elish Kelly, ESRI researcher and author of the report, said: “Most players emphasised that they were glad that they made the decision to play senior inter-county, and pointed to the benefits of doing so. Nevertheless, the research identified areas of concern across health and wellbeing, professional career development, and players’ personal lives. Addressing these concerns, and in particular the underlying sources of the issues, is key to enabling players to thrive on and off the pitch.”

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