Football career will not pay the bills - Kerry's Killian Young
Kerry ace won’t be parking his job to concentrate on football
Considering he made his debut in championship 2006 and has been almost an ever-present since 2007, Kerry's Killian Young is well used to football running his life.
In that time he has won and lost All-Irelands, picked up individual awards and had a front-row seat as football has evolved to new plains of complexity and sophistication. The levels go up every year, he agrees, but progress is a natural thing.
A conversation with Northampton-bound out-half and Kerry native JJ Hanrahan leads him to believe that the single biggest difference between elite GAA players and professional sportsmen is rest. While Hanrahan takes time to recover, Young heads to work.
It has led to some GAA players taking extreme steps. There have been a couple of high-profile examples of GAA players letting their playing career trump work.
It's a brave move and one designed to eke the most out of the seemingly ever-shortening lifespan of inter-county stars.
But for bank official Young, it's a step too far. He's willing to put most things on the long finger but he draws the line when it starts to affect his working life.
"In my experience, the levels of fitness have jumped every year and from the time you think it has stopped and go no further, it hasn't, as the bar has to be raised every year, because others are doing it.
"Simply put, if you don't raise the bar from year to year, you have no chance of winning.
"Every team tries to raise the bar to beat their opponents and if you do not follow suit, you will be found out.
"So you will push things to the very maximum. Yes, things have turned very scientific, yes preparation has now gone very professional, and where it's all going to stop is, I reckon, nobody knows.
"But talking about abandoning work or your career? I was talking to JJ Hanrahan in Castleisland the other day, where I was working. We were comparing notes and we discovered that what we do in training is much the same as Munster do as they prepare for big games.
"What kind of shocked me was that I was behind the counter working away and he was outside the counter, so I was working and he wasn't.
"The difference is that he is getting recovery and I am not, money doesn't enter the equation. That is the only difference though I do understand what you are saying about opting out of work or education.
"The way I look at is that I have to look at my entire career within football and outside of it. My (job) is very important to me and to my family so I do set boundaries, because football will not pay the bills in ten years' time or now!
"My professional career that I am pursuing is very important, and I won't sacrifice that for football. Now that is my opinion on it, others have different opinions, but that is where I stand on it."
There are other pressures on individuals too. As preparation levels increase so too does the temptation to seek an unfair advantage. The first suspension for use of a banned substance in the GAA has been handed down, thrusting a previously dormant issues into the spotlight.
"The way things are, is that we have a doctor in the squad. They are there to answer any of your queries and give you advice. I am lucky that I have a pharmacist that knows my situation.
"So I always go to that man for advice. I never take a risk, because I know the consequences.
"He will tell me what's right and wrong. I take it that his licence to practise that he has up on his wall, gives me the confidence to trust him implicitly.
"I will tell you this, if I am nailed, he is going down with me! Because if you can't trust your pharmacist who is qualified in these matters, then who can you trust?"
All of the sacrifices are gladly made with days like Sunday in mind. Cork come to Killarney looking to end an incredible 20-year wait for a win in Fitzgerald Stadium.
They have been given little chance of ending that run by many. And in the build-up, they have been dodging some missiles sent in their direction - including one launched by former Kerry star Tomás ó Sé.
It was perhaps slightly surprising given some of the results they recorded in the league, including a comprehensive dismissal of Kerry. Young expects a motivated Rebel side to land to Killarney this weekend
"If you look at Cork, they beat us by 11 points in the league. They are a lot fitter with Pat Flanagan involved, they will have worked a lot harder, they will be ready.
"The rumours from over the border is that they have been running since last November, so they will be a lot a fitter and that was shown in their league campaign as well.
"Look, I don't know what Tomás was doing; he is not part of the group anymore, so I disagree with his comments," he explained.
"Myself and Marc were laughing already about it, saying that he is trying to make a bit of money for himself, but his comments would not be shared by the squad or management and we know that we will meet a fired-up Cork.
"When we look at Cork and study their play this year, we know they have improved, so we are not going to be fooled.
"We are not going to think that Cork are not going to motivated coming down here or that they will be sloppy. These Cork fellas have been in the long grass waiting for us since last July."
The bad news for the rest of the country is that Young feels Kerry are a better side than they were 12 months ago. And not just because of the return of Colm Cooper (from injury), Paul Galvin (out of retirement) and Tommy Walsh (back from Australia). The rest of the panel have kicked on too.
"I would say we definitely are a more developed unit than we were last year.
"I think that we have really matured as a group, and the panel has definitely got more competitive. That is a big positive.
"Look, I think we are in a better position than we were this time last year, but like us I believe that Cork are in a better position too."