Droog works wonders for Na Piarsaigh as he avoids 'awkward' clash
Had things worked out the way he had planned, Darragh Droog could have found himself in a very awkward spot this weekend.
Working with both Limerick's Na Piarsaigh and Tipperary's Nenagh Éire Óg as a strength and conditioning coach, Droog's two sides were on a collision course in the Munster club SHC quarter-final.
A busy few weeks saw Droog perform a remarkable juggling act with both reaching their respective county finals, but Nenagh suffered further final heartbreak going down to Clonoulty-Rossmore two weeks ago before fortunes turned last Saturday night.
Unmistakeable when patrolling the sidelines in shorts despite the Baltic conditions, the Limerick native was in full flow as manager Paul Beary continued the fine work of his predecessor Shane O'Neill to secure another Limerick SHC title.
Droog hadn't intended to work with two sides and committed to Nenagh to work under his good friend John Fitzgerald but when Na Piarsaigh's commitments went all the way to March 24 - with their thrilling All-Ireland club final replay defeat to Cuala - it made sense to remain part of Beary's reign even it resulted in a balancing act from all parties.
"It's been a rollercoaster the past few weeks with games week on week, but a great kind of hectic I suppose because you're involved with teams that have made it towards the tail end of championships and anyone would give their right arm to be in that position," says Droog.
"I had already committed to do some work with Nenagh whenever Na Piarsaigh were to get knocked out and they were going to take most of my attention but then things dragged on. Both camps were brilliant though and we were able to work it out.
"To be fair to Nenagh, they bowed to the needs of Na Piarsaigh the whole way through the All-Ireland campaign and were very good to me. I've been lucky that these people have been reasonable enough to allow me to co-exist with both."
Had Nenagh reached the Tipp summit, Droog would have been pitched into an awkward spot but it's a hurdle he would have gladly climbed. "Once both teams got to the latter stages I started to realise and people were asking the question, 'What will you do of both teams win?' I kept kicking it to touch and saying that I'd cross that bridge when we come to that. It would have been a great bridge to cross, albeit a slightly awkward one.
"I've been lucky that I've been with teams that are capable of doing this well and I know lots of other lads that are doing the same work as me with camogie and hurling and maybe weren't as lucky as I've been."
Having watched John Devane's Clonoulty-Rossmore at close quarters twice this season and witnessed what the likes of John O'Keeffe and Timmy Hammersley can do, Droog will be on guard tomorrow to ensure that the West Tipp side don't break his heart twice in the one season.
Remarkably, Na Piarsaigh are unbeaten in the Munster club championship but to maintain that record he knows they will have to be at their best and his Nenagh experience will be imparted to the Limerick side.
"They cost me two days of feeling sorry for myself but they were thoroughly deserving on the day and they're a well-oiled machine. It has given me lots of food for thought for this weekend, Na Piarsaigh will be taking them very seriously," he adds.
"They impressed anyone that saw the Tipp final and we'll be on guard. If we're not, they'll get one over on me again so hopefully we can up our performance from the county final and get another run in Munster."
As well as working with Na Piarsaigh and Éire Óg, Droog's services are in demand in other areas with personal training classes every morning in Limerick's Delta Dome before commencing his role with the Limerick Hurling Academy.
Hurling has reached fever pitch in the Treaty after breaking their 45-year wait for Liam MacCarthy and Droog has already sensed the "bounce" which it has had on the county's young talent.
It also provided reassurance that the work of Droog and others was reaping benefits. "Personally it's very satisfying because when the seniors aren't getting over the line you wonder if you're doing things right, but this gives you some validation and keeps you motivated that things are going in the right direction."