Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Declan Bogue: Monaghan should be content with Malachy O'Rourke

Back in the late 80s, the idea of training in Gaelic football was fairly rudimentary.

A recent conversation with a man who trained a county Championship-winning side of that time, revealed that their success was borne through a universal suffering of piggy-backs, backs and forwards and another exercise where two players grapple at the shoulders and push each other around the field.

Another approach, popularised by Mick O'Dwyer, was the 40-laps of the field diet for the first month of training. But on the whole there was minimal coaching.

However, in 1988, Malachy O'Rourke entered St Mary's Teacher Training College.

For his dissertation, O'Rourke took members of the college's Sigerson Cup team into the gym of Queen's University. Under the supervision of Tasmanian Craig Mahoney — who later served as sports psychologist to the All-Ireland winning Derry team in 1993 — he put the cream of the football team on a treadmill.

While they ran, they were hooked up to electrodes. O'Rourke took their blood samples. From his research he worked out their VO2 max (the maximum capacity of an individual's body to transport and use oxygen during incremental exercise), their resistance to injury, and what kind of training they should be doing.

The following year, 1989, St Mary's College shocked the GAA world when they won the Sigerson Cup. Malachy O'Rourke was ahead of his time back then, and he has consistently proven it since as a manager.

In Monaghan, Cavan, Tyrone and Derry he has won county titles, with the Derry triumph most notable.

Monaghan have emulated Derry's recent appointment of Brian McIver, and given the job to the right man, in the right place. It has made Ulster even more interesting.

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