Enda McGinley: 'Emotional toil of season has big effect on players'

Enda McGinley: 'Emotional toil of season has big effect on players'

Enda McGinley claims that the emotional load placed on players during the GAA season significantly affects their performance.

There have been several voices in the sport who have raised concerns about injuries, scheduling, and the number of games played during the Allianz football and hurling season and championship.

The lack of action and a sense of urgency in the game are other factors contributing to the malaise in the sport.

For example, Donegal's Jim McGuinness doesn’t believe the split season is healthy for the sport. "Listen, I think somebody spoke about it over the weekend. There isn’t differentiation between periods in the season anymore. Everything seems to converge into one. I don’t think that is good. I don’t think it is healthy for players, management, and supporters as well," Donegal said last month.

McGinley of Galway shared his perspective on the situation and provided insight into the injuries players have to overcome. "There's a couple of components to this," he said. "One is the physicality of it. Playing week-in and week-out is tough. It's certainly attritional in terms of injuries; you always pick up an injury or two in each game. Sometimes you'll pick up the bigger injuries, and that'll take several weeks to recover.

"That does take its toll, but we've seen numerous teams able to play on a week-on-week basis and gain huge momentum from it. You could be coming in cold to a game and get caught cold by a team that's got loads of momentum.

"So I'm not sure it's just the nature of the game-on-game thing."

Injuries are part and parcel of the game, but for McGinley, the emotional burden of the season for teams competing for honours has a more significant effect on players than their physical woes.

"For me, the bigger factor is the emotional load. I don't mean that in a soft sense, but there's only so many times in a year that a group of players can really hit that peak. That special sense in training coming into a game, that special sense in the dressing room before a game—that little bit of nervous energy that you've got.

"There are some games that are bigger than others. At the county level, in every game, you have to hit a certain performance level. But for the really big performances, you're going to a certain place."

He continued, "For those teams who were pushing hard for promotion, they're in that place for two or three weeks because they know they're within the hunt.". "Those games take a lot of energy. It's building, there's potential, there's something there; they can either lose it at the last minute or they can fall over the line and get there.

"Then they've got the big thing in Croke Park [the league final], and they're getting the back slapped off them. They're up to Croke Park; it's a big day; they get through the final; and then there's the lull.

"Now they're into the grind again and into the provincial championship. That can really easily be reflected in a flat performance.

"Even in the Cavan Monaghan game, that has to be factored in too, because Monaghan were trying to save themselves [from relegation] while Cavan knew they were saved."