are the indigenous sports played in Ireland, the most popular being Gaelic
football and hurling. The games are contact sports and the physical demands are
thought to be similar to those of Australian Rules football, rugby union, rugby
league, field hockey, and lacrosse (Delahunt et al., 2011). The difference in
chronological age between children in a single age group is known as relative
age and its consequences as the RAE, whereby younger players are disadvantaged
(Del Campo et al., 2010). The purpose of this study was to describe the
physical and performance profile of sub-elite juvenile Gaelic Games players and
to establish if a RAE is present in this cohort and any influence physiological
moderator variables may have on this. Following receipt of ethical approval
(EHSREC11-45), six sub-elite county development squads (Under-14/15/16 age
groups, male, n=115) volunteered to partake in the study. Anthropometric data
including skin folds and girths were collected. A number of field tests of physical
performance including 5 and 20m speed, vertical and broad jump distance, and an
estimate of VO2max were carried out. Descriptive data are presented
as Mean ± SD. Juvenile sub-elite Gaelic Games players aged 14.53 ± 0.82 y were
172.87 ± 7.63 cm tall, had a mass of 64.74 ± 11.06 kg, a BMI of 21.57 ± 2.82
kg.m-2 and 9.22 ± 4.78 % body fat. Flexibility, measured
by sit and reach was 33.62 ± 6.86 cm and lower limb power measured by vertical
and broad jump were 42.19 ± 5.73 and 191.16 ± 25.26 cm, respectively.
Participant time to complete 5m, 20m and an agility test (T-Test) was 1.12 ±
0.07, 3.31 ± 0.30 and 9.31 ± 0.55 s respectively. Participant’s estimated VO2max
was 48.23 ± 5.05 ml.kg.min-1. Chi-Square analysis of birth month by
quartile (Q1 = January-March) revealed that a RAE was present in this cohort,
whereby an over-representation of players born in Q1 compared with Q2, Q3 and
Q4 was evident (χ2 = 14.078, df = 3, p = 0.003). Kruskal-Wallis
analysis of the data revealed no significant difference in any of the
performance parameters based on quartile of birth (Alpha level = 0.05).This
study provides a physical performance profile of juvenile sub-elite Gaelic
Games players, comparable with those of other sports such as soccer and rugby.
This novel data can inform us of the physical requirements of the sport. The
evidence of a RAE is similar to that observed in other contact sports such as
soccer and rugby league (Carling et al, 2009; Till et al, 2010). Although a RAE
exists in this cohort, this cannot be explained by any physical/physiological
Figure 1: Quarterly
distribution of birth month
Footballers (n=115) Q1: Born January to March; Q2: Born April to June; Q3: Born
July to September; Born October to December. *p<0.01
C., Green, B.S., Coughlan,
G.F. (2011) ‘Intrarater reliability of the adductor
squeeze test in gaelic games athletes’, Journal of
Athletic Training, Vol. 46, no.
3, pp. 241-5.
Del Campo, D.G., Vicedo, J.C.P., Villora, S.G. Jordan, O.R.C.
(2010) ‘The Relative Age Effect in Youth Soccer Players from Spain’, Journal
of Sport Science and Medicine, vol. 9, no. 1, pp.190-198.
Carling, C., le Gall, F., Reilly, T., and Williams, A.M. (2009)
‘Do anthropometric and fitness characteristics vary according to birth date
distribution in elite youth academy soccer players?’, Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sport, vol. 19,
Delorme, N., Boiche, J., and Raspaud, M. (2010) ‘Relative age
effect in elite sports: Methodological bias or real discrimination’, European Journal of Sport Science, vol.
10, no. 2, pp. 91-96.
Till, K., Cobley, S., Wattie, N., O'Hara, J.,
Cooke, C., Chapman, C. (2010) ‘The prevalence, influential factors and
mechanisms of relative age effects in UK Rugby