1. He’s obsessed with hurling
“I am very ordinary, to be honest. Abnormal or normal, whichever it is. I just don’t do anything fantastic or anything that is major. Everybody has this sense of, ‘does he ever switch off from hurling, is he obsessed with the game?’ I am not in the slightest. I’m one of the top golfers in Kilkenny, if I could get around to playing it... I’m hoping to get out and play a few games after the All Ireland.”
2. Today’s generation of kids need to be treated differently, so managers need to change
“To be honest, I haven’t. Young people may change or may not change, but to be successful in sport and to be successful in hurling, you have to have the attributes that are needed.
3. It’s a shock to young hurlers to come into the Kilkenny set-up
“No, if you look at life now, everybody goes to the gym now, there’s people doing triathlons now who maybe didn’t tog out for 30 years. There are people going swimming, running, jogging, and cycling all over the place so the world is gone mad for sport. Are they competitive? Yes, they are bursting to beat the fella they are playing against, so at the top level of our game, surely to God it can only be at a huge level, which is what it is. The whole sense that young people nowadays are lacking in something that people in a previous generation had... I certainly can’t see that at all.”
4. A settled team is necessary for success
“I’ve always said I’m not in the slightest concerned about having a settled team. I only concern myself with a settled spirit, a settled drive and a settled determination, settled ambition, and a settled panel of players who are there to fight for their place.
“The reality is, over the years, we have done that and I think it is important as it certainly keeps complacency at bay. Not that complacency would edge into it any way, but it is terrific when you have 30 players on a training field, 15 on 15, and when 28 have said ‘I have got a chance here’ then they’re going to go for it.”
5. Hold TJ Reid and you hold Kilkenny
“TJ is a wonderful player, there is no doubt about that. Obviously, all the talk was that we were a one-man team, and if TJ didn’t score we hadn’t a hope of winning any match.
“That was never the case anyway because TJ is the free-taker and he is going to get scores from frees and obviously other players were being fouled as well as himself and he does get about from frees. The last two games he didn’t score from play, which was a strange statistic, but his performances were absolutely out of the top drawer.
6. The older generation of players couldn’t have survived in the modern era
“You can only play in whatever era you play in. Whatever challenge is in front of you, you take on at that particular time. The players of our generation, if we had been challenged in the same way from a fitness point of view or preparation point of view...
“Are players more skilful now than they were then? I would say there would be no difference whatsoever. The pace the games are played at were different. All you have to do is look at the older games and you will see it, there is a way greater pace to them now. That is down to physical conditioning and fitness levels.”
7. Kilkenny don’t believe in sports psychology, they don’t even have a team psychologist
“I feel quite insulted about that! Not formally, no, but am I anti sports psychology? Absolutely not, because I believe the importance of your mental preparation for the game is huge, the importance of which you couldn’t begin to quantify.
8. The demands on an intercounty manager and player are so severe that…
“I keep hearing and reading of these things and you come across people describing intercounty players as prisoners or people should feel sorry for players who play intercounty hurling for football.
"I don’t get that because they are queuing up to get into the dressing room. Or this hugely stressful occupation of being an intercounty manager and maybe some people do find it stressful, but if they do they shouldn’t be doing it.
"Maybe some people do it for different reasons, I don’t know.”
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