Monday 24 October 2016

Off the Pitch: Dunne listens to alarm bells and plans for future

Published 14/08/2015 | 02:30

Former Tipperary hurler Tommy Dunne is currently pursuing his passion for coaching and training
Former Tipperary hurler Tommy Dunne is currently pursuing his passion for coaching and training

When Tommy Dunne was playing at the highest level of senior hurling with Tipperary, the only alarm bells that were going off for him were in the fire safety business. In hindsight, he wishes he put more thought into planning for the future, but thankfully the former All-Star and Player of the Year has made up for lost time.

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"If I had my time back again, I would definitely have looked around for more opportunities to get into a career or employment that I was entirely passionate about," he says. "I've been in the fire alarm business since 1998 working with various companies and essentially in the last two to three years I've been self-employed with Amber Fire Systems."

Tommy believes that during his playing career he was satisfied to have a job that facilitated his sporting goals. "I was just happy to cruise along, working and training, but a time will come when you'll ask yourself, 'What am I doing this for?' and 'How am I going to change this?'"

Since retirement in 2005, Tommy has pursued a passion of his in the strength and conditioning industry.

"First, I went to Setanta College to study and I was delighted to get the third-level qualification, it was a huge landmark for me."

Since then, Tommy has forged a career for himself in coaching and has also set up another business in the sports industry. "I set up and through that I work with people doing personal training, motivational speaking for people who are often trying to get into exercise and for teams."

Ever on the road to self-improvement and following his passion, Tommy has recently enrolled in third level again. "I'm participating in a master's in the University of Limerick in Sports Performance and that's another progression for me so I'm very excited about that."

As Tipperary prepare to face Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final, has the preparation for big games changed much since he retired.

"To be honest, at the time my work situation was sympathetic towards my career as a hurler, and I was very grateful for that; having that flexibility was fantastic for preparation and recovery. Even though it's only 10 years since I retired, I think individual preparation has increased significantly in that time. While we were probably doing a similar amount of training on the pitch collectively, the individual dedication is on a different level."

Tommy would have a worry that perhaps in some cases players aren't pursuing their dreams off the pitch, in order to fulfil them on it.

"Maybe players often take a job to suit their athletic career in hurling or football, and it mightn't be what they're passionate about, it mightn't be what they're cut out for, but it allows them to play. It's important that players look for a career that they would enjoy and have a passion for."

If he was starting again, there would be some things he would do differently, especially around planning for life after your career.

"You can't beat a bit of planning, and talking to people about your future, that's what is great about the GPA. They really helped me look at what I'd liked to do and then how I could do it. It sounds terribly simple but for so many years before that I had never done it."

You mightn't be hearing alarm bells yet, but it's never too soon to start planning for life beyond the jersey. For more Players In Focus visit

In focus

What I listen to: 'The Ghost of Tom Joad' by Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello, love Bruce!

The Last book I read: 'Legacy' by James Kerr

Favourite sport other than GAA: Rugby

What I love about hurling: The connection between players, I didn't fully realise what that was until I stopped playing. I shared some great memories.

What I hate about hurling: The over-complication of the game from a tactical analysis point of view.

If I could change one thing about hurling: Referees and players to have a more mature relationship. I would like to see players being allowed to question a referee in a non-confrontational manner.

My advice for young players: Be fair to themselves. I used to go into a dark hole if I didn't have a perfect game and it was completely irrational.

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