Ireland rugby hero Wood to whip Smith O’Brien’s into shape

CLARE senior hurling team Smith O’Brien’s have pulled off a major coup by enlisting the services of local hero and former Ireland rugby captain Keith Wood as conditioning trainer for a six-week spell.

Officials at the Killaloe outfit have revealed that the former Lion has already embarked on an intensive training schedule to aid them in their quest for local glory.

Club chairman Naoise Lawlor expressed his delight at having Wood on board, just a fortnight after another ex-Munster and Ireland rugby hero, Anthony Foley, lined out for Smith O’Brien’s in a Munster junior club football semi-final.

Foley’s father Brendan won a county junior football medal as a goalkeeper with Smith O’Brien’s in 1986 and remains heavily involved with the local Ballina/Killaloe rugby club.

Wood, capped 58 times by Ireland and five times for the Lions, started a six-week conditioning course with the Smith O’Brien’s hurlers six weeks ago.

Lawlor explained: “Keith is living in Killaloe and had indicated that he would like to get involved in some capacity.

“The senior team management approached him and had a chat and identified an area of conditioning to work on.

“Our aim, like every club, is to do well in the championship.

“We were promoted in 2004 but we’ve struggled to stay senior in recent years. This is our sixth year senior, we want to develop and people like Keith will bring us on that bit more and develop a culture required to compete at senior.”

Wood, 38, has also expressed his desire to stay involved with the team after the conditioning course and Lawlor added: “Part of the reason why Keith is involved is that he will help guys we have had injured with rehab. He’s gone through all of the injuries himself and there’s very little that he doesn’t know. He’s working on conditioning on our sand-based pitch, twisting and turning and all sorts of exercises to tone up the players’ bodies, shoulders and hips.

“Keith’s work is focussing on the parts of the body that require most attention at this time of year, in time for when you start hurling. We’re fortunate to have Keith around and it’s important that we maximise what he can give us.”

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