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22nd Jan 2022

GAA fans delighted as water breaks are set to be abolished but managers may not be as thrilled

Lee Costello

That extra minute can all of the difference.

Water breaks were introduced to the GAA following its return from lockdown, as a way of somehow combating the virus that is COVID-19.

With the public knowing and understanding so little about it at the time, introducing these one minute intervals was seen as a way of helping prevent fatigue, and help players deal with potential long term strains of the virus.

Knowing what we know now, these breaks are pretty much useless in any attempt to battle COVID, and should obviously have been done away with a lot sooner.

However, like all good GAA coaches, they seen it as an opportunity – a way to make tactical changes, plug holes, and solve problems without having to wait until half time.

How often in the last year have you seen a so called ‘lesser team,’ get a surprise jump on a big side, cultivate a bit of a lead and some momentum, only for the whistle to blown 15 minutes into the game.

Then, the manager of the favoured side, is able to identify and direct his players where is going wrong, get them to reset, point out that there is still loads of time on the clock, and they go back and take complete control.

Suddenly the game falls into the pre-meditated conclusion, and a part of that is because teams who are seen as an underdog have less of a chance to catch the opposition cold, or by surprise.

Mastering the one minute interval has became key, I myself manage East Belfast Ladies senior team, and we have our subs line out all of the water bottles on the sidelines, ready to assign them to owner straight away as they come off the field.

Then, like clock work, the girls would grab their bottles, get into a huddle around me and the other coaches, and we talk about what’s going right or wrong in just three key points.

It might be as simple as getting the two half backs to switch with each other, or explaining what best to do on the opposition kick outs, and then off they go back onto the field with new information, ready to do their job.

Now, this is the case for both teams so in an evenly matched game, it isn’t an advantage or disadvantage, it’s just another aspect of the sport.

However, it looks like we are waving goodbye to these one minute brain stormers, and overall, the sport will be much better for it.

Us coaches will just have to adjust, and go back to preaching on the sideline from afar, as it should be.

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