Match-play running demands and technical performance among elite Gaelic footballers: Does divisional status count?

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The aim of the current study was to compare positional differences in running demands and technical performance variables among elite Gaelic football teams from separate Divisions. Data were obtained from a Division 1 (26.7 ± 2.9 years, 179.2 ± 21.3 cm, 89.9 ± 21.2 kg) and a Division 3 (25.7 ± 3.5 years, 183.0 ± 4.7 cm, 84.4 ± 6.5 kg) team. Match-play running variables were collected using 4-Hz global positioning system (GPS) units (VX Sport, New-Zealand) (Match data sets; Division 1: n = 107, Division 3: n = 97). Selected variables assessed were high speed running distance (HSR) (≥17 km·h-1), number of high-speed efforts (HSE) (≥ 17 km·h-1), relative high-speed distance (RHSD) (≥ 17 km·h-1; m·min-1) and percentage of time at high speed (%HS). Each variable was analysed across the 5 positional groups in Gaelic football (full-back, half-back, midfield, half-forward, full-forward). The same 25 competitive games were analysed using GPS and the Sports Code video analysis system (Sports Code Elite V9, Sportstec, NSW, Australia). Technical performance variables selected for analysis were total kick/hand passes, tackles, shots and percentage of time in possession. HSR running demands were differentiated between the divisions; the Division 3 team demonstrated significantly greater HSR, HSE, RHSD and %HS than the Division 1 team (p <0.05). Positional-specific analysis found that the Division 3 fullback and midfield positional lines had significantly greater HSR, RHSD and %HS than their Division 1 counterparts. The Division 1 team made a greater number of total tackles, with significantly more tackles in the middle third (p <0.05). The Division 3 team performed a significantly greater number of hand passes and unsuccessful shots per game (p <0.01). The results of the present study indicate that overall technical proficiency, rather than high-speed running profiles, differentiate Division 1 and 3 Gaelic football teams.

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