Cork sharpshooter Patrick Horgan has praised the mental edge that top New Zealand try-scorer Doug Howlett has helped him develop.
The 32-year-old also pointed to the work that performance coach Gary Keegan did with him as he struggled to compartmentalise his life and hurling, and thinks the duo have made him a better player as a result.
In a wide-ranging discussion with The Middle Pitch, a podcast produced by his home club Glen Rovers and St Nick’s, Horgan explained how Howlett’s outlook took him to the next level.
“It was only a couple of years ago Doug Howlett came in with us. You’d be all about the team in the GAA and that’s perfect. But he said his mentality and the All Blacks’ mentality was that there actually is an ‘I’ in ‘team’.
“Like if you are not the best you can be then you are not going to be the best you can be for the team. I thought that made a lot of sense.
“You obviously want to be the best you can be before you can ever help the team. Win your own battle before you move on to the next thing. I just find that if I am the best I can be, it is only then I can probably help the team.”
He admits his quest to continuously improve his game has taken over at times but, with the help of Keegan, he managed to find the right balance.
“I would have thought about hurling when I was playing, when I was at home, when I was eating my dinner, when I was at work. I wouldn’t be doing a tap but I’d be thinking about it. If I went to Spain for a week I’m only thinking about hurling.
The thing I have tried to start doing is trying to be wherever I am. If I’m out with the boys, I’m out with the boys. I’m not having these stupid thoughts in my head about hurling and visualisation.
“I put a time for visualisation in my hurling and I have a time for everything at the moment. I am not just burning my head with hurling, hurling, hurling. I think that helped a bit.
“A fella came in with Cork, Gary Keegan. He put it on us that he gave us the hours of the week and how can you get better every hour of the week, start planning your week better, and what you should think about.
“It’s all the one per cents and two per cents. I put a lot of time into that and I think I got a lot of value out of it.”