BULKING up is no longer a priority for elite GAA players who are now more focussed on speed and flexibility.
“To be honest, we are doing less weights,” says Paddy Andrews, Dublin GAA player.
“Around the early 2000s with the emergence of teams like Armagh and Tyrone, who had a lot of success, it was all very strength-based.
"They were quite physical teams so the other teams really went after that. But then they bulked up too much around that time.”
These days he says there is still a still strength element because it’s such a physical game.
“But we are more focussed on using skills and moving fast around the pitch as well as being strong. If you’ve seen the size of Croke Park you have to be pretty quick to get around it.”
A financial advisor, he is resigned to the non-professional status of GAA players.
“I don’t think it’s ever going to change. Certainly not in my time unfortunately.
"I’ve had this conversation with a few of the lads in Dublin. I’m 27 so I’m just used to it at this stage. I’m working in Davy’s for more than four years and in that period I’ve had success with Dublin as well. It’s really something that you get used to.
"If you are looking at it from the outside you might think there is a big time constraint on you. There is but it’s really something you adjust to through habit more than anything else.”
In the past five years his team has won three All-Irelands — he’s aware this is a blessed time.
“My older brother played with Dublin for seven or eight years at the start of the ’00s and he never won an All-Ireland. I remember being so gutted and disappointed for him. Before this [winning] period came along Dublin hadn’t won an All-Ireland for 17 years.
“We have a huge following for our games in Dublin. It’s such a great experience to enjoy and be part of.
"For me, and all the guys on the team, we understand how fortunate we are that things have come together. It just makes us even more motivated to make the most of it while you can.”
He hopes to continue playing for the next three or four years.
“It’s very dependent on your body — it takes a huge toll. At the minute physically it’s great so hopefully I’ve a few more years once the manager keeps picking me as well.”
In the background is his long-term girlfriend Doireann.
“She wouldn’t be a big GAA fan but I definitely need that kind of support. It’s not easy [for partners] and it’s hard going because they make sacrifices as well in terms of going on holidays.”
What shape are you in?
At this stage of the season, we are still building up fitness in preparation for the championship in the summer so we are working hard a few nights a week.
We would normally do maybe one gym session a week and two pitch sessions and then there’s generally a match at the weekend as well.
Around May/June we would start really pushing on and reaching top fitness for the year.
What are your healthiest eating habits?
Always have a good breakfast. We have a nice canteen in the office so you can make porridge or scrambled eggs and so on every morning.
This helps set you up for the day, especially if you have training that evening.
What are your guiltiest pleasures?
I have a bad enough sweet tooth — a chocolate Hob Nob with a cup of tea.
What would keep you awake at night?
Not much — I’m a pretty good sleeper. With training and work I’m kept busy so when I get to bed in the evening I’m asleep more or less straight away.
How do you relax?
I’d play golf a good bit in the summer or head to the cinema with my girlfriend if we have training or games the following day.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
I’d be a big enough Man United fan so Alex Ferguson would be nice to have around for dinner and Roy Keane.
It would be good to put them back together again, though I’m not that sure they would get on.
What would you like to change about your appearance?
Being a bit taller would be alright.
What traits do you least like in others?
Poor manners and rudeness.
What traits do you least like about yourself?
I’d be quiet enough with people I wouldn’t know.
Do you pray?
What would cheer up your day?
Good weather always helps.
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