DECLAN McCOY: The extreme weather conundrum

I’D like to start this week by thanking my cousin, Armagh’s Aoife McCoy, for a great day at her wedding. A sprained ankle on the dance floor was my punishment for trying to act the young fella.

Luckily we got a dry day for it, which has not been the case recently. Every manager and coach throughout the country must be fed up with the rain at this stage. It seems to have been raining incessantly for the past six weeks. There are two certainties in life, rain and Arsenal bottling it.

The extended period of inclement weather has caused havoc in teams’ preparation for the new season. In Louth the league has been pushed back due to the unavailability of pitches and many other counties have had postponements.

I have been fortunate with my own team, Naomh Mairtins, in that we have a 4G pitch, which has provided a lifeline. The vast majority of teams have been consigned to the gym as they simply have had no access to a pitch.

This not only disrupts pre-season preparation but it can also adversely affect player motivation. Anecdotally, I know of a team who had 19 players available for a Sunday morning game recently. The game was called off due to the weather and when a gym session was called in its place, the 19 available dwindled to seven.

The disruption caused by the weather will continue to be felt well into the league. Players will be extremely rusty in terms of skills through lack of on-field drills and will also be off match pace as challenge games were in many cases unplayable.

As a manager, it is frustrating as you have to not only keep players motivated, you now have to adjust your preparation in terms of periodization.

You have essentially missed a large chunk of period one (pre-season) so you have to now try to incorporate that work during the early league games.

This is a challenge as you risk excessive injuries in the short term but you also will be caught come championship if you haven’t done the hard yards earlier in the season. Effectively your pre-season is moving from January to April.

The burning question going forward will be, is this an anomaly? If we face these conditions in the future then counties and clubs will have to invest in indoor facilities to a greater degree. You simply cannot push the season back as the split-season has a finite amount of time allocated for leagues and championships to be completed.

Will we see an increase in indoor pitches and domes in the next few years? I’d wager we will.

In the early 2000s, the elite teams stole a march on the rest by adopting a professional approach to strength and conditioning.

The next level of team to gain advantages over the rest may be those that invest in all-weather facilities.

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