As a physiotherapist, Joey Boland is well-placed to judge the physical conditioning of the young players joining the Dublin hurling panel.
The 27-year-old has embraced getting back into the routine of county training in January and says the new players coming through are testament to the work being done at underage level in the county.
Ger Cunningham’s side have strolled through to a Walsh Cup semi-final against Laois this weekend and Boland believes this fresh batch is exactly what’s needed to invigorate the squad.
He also agrees it’s something the more established players welcome.
“Our form has been up and down over the last couple of years and you
can look at that as glass half-full or half-empty,” he said. “The half-full is that we can perform at that level, whereas there are other teams in the country that try their best and they can’t get there. We know that we can and feel every year we are improving.
“We’re getting older, we’re getting more mature. But the new brand of hurler coming through in Dublin is outrageous, so well-conditioned, so well-skilled from the development panels, pushing all the lads that have been there for seven or eight years. Couple the youth and experience and the freshness around the camp, I’m expecting a huge year for Dublin hurling and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
While Boland accepts his profession allows him gauge what his own body is capable of, he admits competition for places sometimes drives players to ignore warning signs. “I’d be in the unique situation where I’d be quite good at monitoring my body. Sometimes you might not see it and then again sometimes you are your worst patient and you go through the barrier and push yourself on.”
“The days of lads turning up 40% fit in January are gone. You look after your body all year and we’re all turning up in January 80, 90% ready to get up there and work towards the summer.
“In the last 10 years, the demands on players have gone up. it’s not so much the demands, it’s more of a case if you don’t buy into it, you’re not going to make the panel or unable to compete.
“So I think it’s a collective thing. Through college even, five or six years ago, I remember we used to train twice a day, early mornings and stuff like that. The issue with that from a medical point of view is the recovery.
“If a lad has a bad game on a Sunday, he has to get up on a Monday and that bad game is playing on his mind. Then he has emotional stress in work if he has to hit a deadline, so that’s two worries. Couple that with the physicality of having to recover and then he has to go out and train on a Tuesday. That’s where the problem is.”
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