In my day

SPORT now is a reflection of society. It’s much more competitive and intense, people have less time for each other and the expectation of one another is far greater.

Mickey Ned O’Sullivan (Kerry)

SPORT now is a reflection of society. It’s much more competitive and intense, people have less time for each other and the expectation of one another is far greater.

Supporters’ expectations of their teams is far greater than it has ever been and it’s a results-driven game. The pressure is much greater and the media has a far greater role to play. There were only three or four papers in my time. Players now have far greater economic and social demands placed on them. They can’t last for as long as they did in my time.

Many players are third level graduates, used to management at the highest level at university and in their jobs, and they won’t accept low standards. They have a small window of opportunity to make the grade in their chosen sport. There’s an average of four or five years there but when I was playing, you could go on for ten years. In All-Ireland finals, I was a sub in 1972, I played in ‘75 and ‘76 and was a sub in ‘78 and ‘80. My best sense of satisfaction was to captain Kerry to win an All-Ireland – that’s the ultimate goal of any player. I don’t remember anything of the Sunday night following the ‘75 final. I have seen the incident [O’Sullivan left the field concussed following a clash with Dublin’s Sean Doherty].

The lifestyle of the modern day player has totally changed. He’s professional in everything but the fact that he has a day job. You have mind coaches to keep out the side-shows, nutrition and hydration are vital and every aspect of approach is planned to the finest details for the 48 hours leading up to a game. We were much more laid back, expected to produce it when the ball was thrown in. I regarded nerves as part and parcel of it but now players have help in coping with that. We were on our own – it was trial and error.


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