Limerick hurler David Breen has warned that careers are being “cut short” due to the workload on modern Gaelic games players.
"Careers are being cut short because guys are flogging themselves, not taking adequate down-time," Breen, who was named the Munster Club Hurling Championship Player of the Year on Tuesday, told the Irish Independent.
"With Limerick, for example, and the Na Piarsaigh guys, the management have been quite open in saying 'take four weeks or five weeks,' but in the space of a 13-month season, five weeks isn't a lot of time, especially if they have niggling injuries."
Breen, who works as a physiotherapist with the Sports Surgery Clinic in Dublin, has himself been ruled out of the remainder of Limerick’s Division 1B campaign with a knee problem.
"There's never a right time really to say: 'I'm off the radar for a couple of months',” he said.
"But, eventually, a time will come where you can't keep everyone happy.
"In my own case, if I don't take time off now I could be finished completely in a couple of years and I'll be kicking myself, saying, 'why didn't I take some time off and get things right?'.
Breen also suggested that playing too many games was leading to a raft of long-term debilitating health problems among players, and that the issue was being “brushed under the carpet”.
"Players wouldn't be the kind to complain, especially GAA players. A lot of GAA players will suck it up and get on with it,” he said.
"But, by the time things come to a head and guys are going in for knee replacements and hip replacements, they have hung up the boots and no one is listening to them at that stage.
“They are old news and they haven't got as strong of a voice as they did when they were in with the county.
"The whole issue is brushed under the carpet.
"It needs to be regulated. Take a guy who is in first or second year at college. How many teams is he eligible for? And you can be guaranteed everyone wants a piece of him.
"I don't think parents are in a position where they are educated enough about injuries or strength and conditioning where they know when to say 'sorry, my son or daughter is not going playing that match'.
"Everyone wants a piece of the top players."