Donal O’Grady: GAA players 'on borrowed time' after age of 30

Retired Limerick hurling star Donal O’Grady says the age profile of inter-county stars is bound to come down further given the demands on them, saying players are “on borrowed time” when they reach the age of 30.

O’Grady, who captained Limerick to the 2013 Munster hurling title, said: “You’re on borrowed time once you hit 30. I know the age profile of the intercounty player has been coming down and down anyway, but it’ll come down further. You’re bringing in lads from U21, the way managers are doing now, they have to because the game is so pacey. Even in terms of mindset, managers now probably see a 30-year-old as not a 70-minute man.

“That was probably another reason for me calling it a day. When you’re used to being one of the core 12 or 13 lads in the manager’s mind, there’s a fair change when you know — as I did last year — when it comes to 50 minutes that it’s ‘good luck’.”

The pressure on players exists away from the field of play, he says: “The ages are going to get younger and younger, there’s no doubt about that. You’re going to see fewer and fewer 10-year careers, too.

“I can’t see lads sustaining it because even when you’re not training, if you’re at home, you’re still in Limerick senior hurling mode.

“You’re thinking, ‘I’ve got to go to bed now because we’ve training tomorrow’, ‘I’ll have to eat that, but there’s no sugar in the tea’. Where’s it all going to end?

“I’d be lean enough, I’d find it hard to put on weight. Dealing with nutritionists during the heat of the summer, keeping weight on would be a problem for me. If I took a photograph of powders and tablets I’ve built up — whey, protein, that kind of stuff — you’d take a fit. That whole side of it has gone to another level altogether.”

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