GAA Football

The GAA world has become obsessed by GPS stats: retired Cavan ace Cian Mackey

Cavan's Cian Mackey says too much emphasis is being put into physical fitness and not enough on the skills of the game Picture by Philip Walsh.

RETIRED Cavan ace Cian Mackey says the GAA is in danger of becoming obsessed with GPS stats and runs the risk of suffering an even bigger talent drain from their games.

The 32-year-old Castlerahan clubman announced his inter-county retirement last week and says he's looking forward to taking “random holidays” and attending a “few more stag parties”.

One of the best players of his generation, the mercurial playmaker held talks with Breffni boss Mickey Graham and after a couple of weeks of soul-searching he decided to end his 15-year association with the seniors.

Mackey says retiring now felt like a natural end to a career that often sparkled on the Championship stage – adding that there was less enjoyment playing the game in recent seasons.

“I think a big problem in the GAA is they go by GPS stats,” Mackey said.

“'Player ‘X’ is just after running 10k'; you could be doing 10k running around and doing nothing. GPS is a small key, but you’d have management teams looking into that and thinking it’s the gospel.

“I believe in systems to an extent but I also believe you need someone who can play to a system and can also realise when we need to change something to get a score, because there is that much that goes into watching other teams to combat your system.

“So, if your system is not working you need to be able to do something a wee bit different. You can lose a game in 30 minutes because something’s not working and you can’t wait until half-time for Mickey Graham to tell you what to do.”

Mackey added: “I found there is too much training and too much conditioning. You have to be fit but you can overboard. If you don’t give the ball away, you’ll be fine.”

Mackey reckons over the last three or four years the balance between fitness and skills has become heavily weighted in favour of the former.

“For club and county, there always seemed to be conditioning work.... It seemed to be more about conditioning and ice baths than someone’s ability to kick pass the ball or to look up and find a player.

“I can see how players would lose enjoyment out of it. Dublin has set the bar for athleticism but their basic skills are still top drawer. Maybe they’ve got the right balance and other teams feel as if they’ve to be athletic enough to stick with the Dubs, but I think you have to do half and half to be realistic about challenging them.”

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access

GAA Football