It can be your career or county, warns Dub star
Oisin Gough is one of those inter-county players can that kill an interview stone dead.
Drop "diabetic nephropathy" into any conversation and you'll stump most people, especially a group of journalists expecting the conversation to revolve around why Dublin go from being so good to so far off the pace from game to game.
Biomedical research fills Gough's day. And it was the pursuit of a PhD that saw him drop out of the Dublin squad last year.
"I just stepped off, I was studying," Gough (below) said, explaining his decision not to line out for Dublin in 2015. "I took a break to try and finish a PhD. I'm still not finished. It's biomedical research. A study of diabetical nephropathy which is kidney disease. It's a big field. I'm not quite finished. Hopefully, I'll be finished soon."
In dropping out, Gough became the latest to shine a light into the area of demands being placed upon players. Gough's workload is probably exceptional and for him doing both simply wasn't an option.
And the Cuala man reckons that some players are already making career choices that are more likely to fit in with their inter-county ambitions.
"I think it's getting more difficult for guys to do (pursue careers and play inter-county). I know, for instance, Jack (McCaffrey) is doing medicine and there's huge hours. Once you start working in hospital, the hours are huge for a junior doctor. I think it's getting difficult for guys to juggle these things. Some career choices might be more conducive.
"It's a question that lads are going start asking themselves over the next 10 years, I'd say. What do they want - do they want a career for life or do they want to achieve and be as best they can on a hurling or football field?
"I think it's a personal decision. I do think more and more guys will be making the decision earlier."
Dublin head into Sunday's clash with Kilkenny in Nowlan Park with little to play for other than pride and league placing. Both sides are already assured of a quarter-final spot and therefore can't get dragged into a relegation battle.
Dublin have won three games on the bounce since their disastrous opener away to Tipperary with Gough struggling to explain why they underperformed in Semple Stadium.
"I don't think we've changed anything in training really. There was a lot of talk obviously but I don't think we've changed anything dramatically, we just didn't show up on the day whatever happened mentally. So I think what you're seeing the last few games from us is more normal, so that's the level we think we're at and it's just about consistency in our performances.
"For whatever reason over the last few years Dublin have been able to produce very good displays, and then other days they don't show up. We're just trying to keep that consistency, so maybe it's just a mental blip."
Dublin got back on track in the familiar environs of Parnell Park. In beating Galway in Donnycarney, they extended an unbeaten record at the venue that stretches all the way back to 2011.
But Gough agrees that the impressive win over Cork in Croke Park was of more significance to this group of players. Last year's league quarter-final win over Limerick in HQ was their first on Jones' Road since they won the Leinster title in 2013. And he wants the hurlers to join the footballers by playing more of their home games there.
"Over the last few years we've been obviously quite successful in Parnell Park. We like playing in Parnell but we wouldn't be as successful in Croke Park. Obviously the footballers play there a lot more often than us. We're trying to make it kind of a second home for us, so yeah it was a big focus on the Cork game and trying to get a good performance in Croke Park."
"I think the Dublin hurlers should definitely get some more games in Croke Park. I know we've played a few league openers over the years there, but it's a different kind of atmosphere and it's a different pitch.
"Parnell Park is tight and the crowd is almost on top of you, it's a bit of a cauldron and we call it 'Fortress Parnell', whereas Croke Park is a lot more open, there's a lot more ground to cover, it's harder to get collisions in, get more men around the ball.
"It's a different atmosphere and a different feel, so it takes a while to get used to that, and I think the only way to do that is to play there more often."