A leading international sports physiotherapist has expressed his grave concerns with the impending injury crisis facing thousands of club players once Gaelic games resume next month.
Marty Loughran, who worked with Team Ireland at the Rio Olympics in 2016 as well as Triathlon Ireland at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, has produced a free e-booklet entitled 'Return to Sport Following Lockdown' along with his wife Julie, in which he outlines his concerns around players going straight into a busy programme of games with very little lead-in time.
Such an approach, with county boards apparently not taking on the views of medical professionals and with the GAA's significant coaching staff not providing guidance to players during lockdown, has left Loughran frustrated.
"We just don't have the capacity to cope with the injuries coming in July and August," said Loughran, who works with Elite Physiotherapy and The Performance Lab, where he oversees the physical development of nine club teams as well as individual athletes.
"It is inevitable that they will come because if you look at professional sports like German football and the Premier League coming back, the injury rate will probably be three times higher than normal.
"But physiotherapists' and private physiotherapists' capacity to deal with those is going to be reduced as they are only going to be able to operate at around 30% of their normal capacity anyway.
"Also, the most sinister injuries, the cruciates and things like that, the surgeons are not ready either. What we have here is people not being managed the way they think they were."
Loughran cites the return to play of the German Bundesliga. Pre-lockdown, the injuries per match across a season was at 0.27 per game.
After the first round of matches following lockdown, that figure had risen to 0.88 injuries per game and continued through the next four weeks at 0.78, 0.56, 0.78 and 0.44.
Such a spike in injuries is matched by similar evidence from the 2011 lockouts in American football and basketball.
Loughran addressed the issue with the management of each of the clubs he advises in a webinar last week.
"Best-case scenario, we are going to have hamstring injuries, worst-case scenario we are going to have a groin or a knee injury," he said.
"If we don't manage this, we are going to get a massive influx of injuries. Even with the German professional teams, if they are getting three-or-four-week pre-season preparations for the end of lockdown and doing everything they can in a professional environment, what are we going to be like in an amateur environment when you don't have the expertise they have?"
In Loughran's own county, he previously stepped down from a player welfare committee after the fixtures committee fixed the county Under-21 Football Championship for the same day the county minors were playing in the Ulster Championship, forcing some players to play twice on one day.
The scheduling in Tyrone, with four games in 10 days for some teams, is similarly neglectful of player rights and welfare.
He explained: "It's almost as if you were trying to design a programme to injure a GAA player. You would tell them to do nothing for 12 or 13 weeks and then bring them back and rush them through a training programme before throwing five or six intense matches at them; that's how you would design a programme to injure a player."
He also holds that, given the medical and coaching expertise employed within the GAA, a programme of training should have been drawn up for players to adhere to while lockdown was in place.
"I think the GAA have done them a huge disservice for telling them to stand down because that goes against any advice on injury prevention there is," said Loughran.
"I see it as a cost-cutting measure by the GAA because they did not want backroom members sending in bills for their services.
"We should have been able to give players across the Association some guidance as to what is good training to do during this time, such as reducing your kicking volume. If you don't kick a ball for 10 weeks and you have to go back kicking again, that is going to cause more problems."
Loughran has been pushing for a medical voice to be part of any fixtures committee in Tyrone for a decade, and despairs when he sees the lack of care afforded to the players in trying to cram an 11-week club period with a programme of games.
"I think the evidence base for the risk when you de-train a player and then resume quickly is so high and so well established that I think the Association has let us down by not giving us some guidance on what we should do and how we should continue to train our players if the sport was to return," he said.
"Three or four weeks ago it wasn't a problem, but the fact it has happened, and then you have 11 weeks where it is so front-loaded with four games in 10 days…"