"Any team I've been involved in over the last five years, they've been way above their station" - GPS stats gone too far
Colm Boyle was good enough to win an All-Star in 2017 but he was rarely good enough to last a full game for Mayo.
To the naked eye, even when he was being whipped off after 45 and 50 minutes, the dashing Davitts club-man still had plenty to offer as one of the most energetic and effective players on the pitch but that didn't stop Stephen Rochford and the curly finger. What more could the man do? Boyler was flying and so the idea that a GPS reading and his senior years were counting against him never really left, though the then Mayo manager rejected the notion that Boyle's substitution was a pre-determined thing.
As his mind turned to David Burke's on some days and off others situation on the Galway hurling team, Damien Hayes brought up the topic of GPS readings and stats on this Thursday's GAA Hour Hurling Show and with his sceptical views on the subject, Hayes had two allies in Colm Parkinson and Conal Keaney.
"Sometimes I do think about this and maybe it's something you can ask of a manager Wooly. How many players are taken off because of this box thing (GPS) that's on their back and their shoulder? It's telling you your heart-rate is too high and your maxed out and you can't go any further, I'm not so sure."
It was back in 2012 when Hayes first came across the newest gadget in town and it's fair to say that on the night in question, Hayes and his GPS monitor were barely on nodding terms.
"We played a challenge match one-time and it was the first time I was asked to put on a GPS. I used to call it the male-bra. I knew well what was going on here so I put it on but I didn't plug it in. That's the secret if any of the boys have any worries about it. Put it on but don't plug it in...."
Damien Hayes and @ConalKeaney join @Woolberto to build-up to a super Saturday of hurling 🏑
- Why are Galway underachieving at senior level?
- GPS know-it-alls
- Qualifier teams at a disadvantage
Dig in 👇
🎧 https://t.co/FeMGcCwLFy 🎧 pic.twitter.com/YWKFM2fTGR
— The GAA Hour (@TheGAAHour) July 22, 2021
"Colm Boyle used to get taken off regularly for Mayo even when he was playing really well," added Parkinson, "My thoughts on it are that you should stay on until you start making mistakes, but if you've gone out of the game and the GPS stats have dropped, then you should be gone."
Conal Keaney is only recently out of the inter-county game and the Dubliner let the boys know that in the last few years, the over-reliance on stats, figures and readings has only gotten worse. Fair to say he'd trust what his eyes are telling him before he'd trust the technology and the stats-people who he says, are being given too much power in the game.
"I think there is a role for that kind of thing. But a manager needs to trust what he's seeing. I think these lads coming in with these GPS' and all these stats and everything, I think they've too much of a say. Any of the teams I've been involved in in the last five years, their roles, they've been way above their station. They've been getting involved in things they should have no business in.
"Coming down at half-time in the manager's ear to say 'oh his speed runs are less or he's dipping, he's not covering the same ground.' Give the man a break like, I'll put it to you like this, you could score 1-6 in a game without running a whole pile. Then another lad could be running around like a headless chicken just to keep your GPS up. Because you don't want to be the one up on the board on the Tuesday getting called out 'oh you only ran 6k there. What's the story with that? Are you not able to run anymore?'
"There's no arguing with these lads. Some managers see it as pure black and white and they say 'well look, you only ran, I'm not sure if you can play that position around the middle anymore. I think we should be taking you off after 50 minutes..."
"I always go back to Brian Cody. Does he look at these stats? I would say very, very little. He probably knows about them, and might use them to confirm what his eyes are telling him, but that's it and that's why you need a strong manager. These lads aren't even selectors or anything but they've more of a say than anyone. Honestly, it boils me up. Some of these lads have never played like!"