Carruth: teams need to be open to change

MICHAEL CARRUTH believes that more inter-county football teams could benefit enormously by welcoming an influx of expertise from various other sporting backgrounds.

The 1992 Olympic gold medallist will serve as masseur to the Westmeath footballers next season and he will also aid the management team in other areas such as strength and conditioning.

Carruth has been brought on board by new coach Brendan Hackett who is best known for his time as chief executive of Athletics Ireland while Olympic canoeist Eoin Rheinisch is also set to help out.

Westmeath aren’t the only county expanding their horizons for 2010. Mike McGurn, best known for his work with the Irish rugby team and Bernard Dunne, has linked up with Armagh.

Like Hackett, McGurn has a background in the GAA.

“There’s so much to be learned from all sports, from taking the best of what other sports are doing and bringing it to your own,” said Carruth. “I suppose it’s a total package. It should be interesting to see what comes of it.

“The bar is set there with Kilkenny in the hurling and Kerry in the football. Do Westmeath want to be a Kerry or do they want to be a lesser team? No disrespect to other people who had the job or people who might have applied for it, but Brendan is there to get the very best out of Westmeath.

“He has put a totally professional package together for the players to get behind. If the players get behind it, the supporters will get behind it. I don’t know what Brendan’s goal is but mine would be to reach a Leinster final.

“The only thing is, if we meet Dublin I’ll be giving the lads a new type of massage. They’ll be asking me ‘Mick, are you meant to dig in so hard?’ and I’ll say ‘yeah, it’s a new technique invented in China’.

These are busy times for Carruth who, along with his commitment to Westmeath, remains heavily involved with his first love, the Drimnagh Amateur Boxing and Physical Culture Club.

Drimnagh were one of 25 clubs, from both sides of the border, to receive €5,000 yesterday in the third annual Texaco Sportstars Bursaries. In all, 582 clubs from 46 sporting disciplines had applied for the funding.

“Any club, from boxing to badminton, can do with an award like this,” said Carruth. “All these clubs are voluntary. Our club must be over 40 years old now and every bit helps. We applied for it and were fortunate enough to get it.

“Particularly with the way things are. It’s always a struggle. We have great workers in our club. Clubs can fold as quickly as they open up. People sometimes don’t realise what it takes to keep them going.”

Carruth has been effusive in his praise of Hackett who he has known since the Monaghan man worked with the boxer on the psychological side of things back in the 1990s.

As for his own role, Carruth will be happy to lend a helping hand or word wherever the case may be.

“I will be hands on with the lads, pun not intended. I will be the one getting them ready before the game and I will probably one of the last voices heard as well. If I can’t get them geared up nobody can.

“I will be helping with the strength and conditioning as well. We might do some alternative training too, maybe bring them to the boxing the odd time, do something different with them.”

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