“You can never go too far in the pursuit of excellence and the pursuit of trophies. I just wonder, from a lifestyle point of view, where is the gap for people to live. Training has become a 12-month year-round experience and I feel you are losing some of the old folklore that used to go with it.
“Professions — is there a role for the blocklayer in hurling any more, the farmer? Are guys going to have to make their lifestyle choices around it — are they going to have to have jobs where they have three months off in the summer to fully focus? It’s an area of concern. Where does the next advantage come in? Does it come in the use of supplements, guys giving up their jobs? I wonder where the next competitive advantage comes. Look at rugby and games like that constantly evolving doesn’t always mean that the lustre of the game improves.”
A secondary teacher in recent college powerhouse Árd Scoil Ris, Niall has had experience of schooling several members of both teams in hurling and business studies.
“Look at the four semi-finalists as an example and look at the age profile. Most guys are in college, most guys are going straight from colleges hurling and minor hurling to senior hurling. The guy with the couple of kids, the guy in his 30s, are they being squeezed out by the uber-professionalism? You’ll have lads who have made lifestyle choices that allow them to extend their career. It’s an area we have to see how it involves, but it is an area of concern for an amateur organisation.”