Tuesday 23 July 2019

McManamon happy to practise what he preaches

McManamon: ‘Everyone doubts themselves’. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
McManamon: ‘Everyone doubts themselves’. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

As soon as all the media formalities are dealt with, Kevin McManamon's next port of call is to find somewhere quiet to watch the Irish boxing team perform in the European Games.

It's one thing playing consistently at inter-county level with the Dubs, but McManamon is also working closely with the mental preparation of the Irish amateur boxers as part of his day job in the area of sports psychology.

With four Irish boxers among the medals in Minsk yesterday, it's been a good couple of days for the St Jude's attacker having added his ninth Leinster SFC title in succession with a facile defeat of Meath in Croke Park last Sunday.

The boxers and the various teams he works with aren't the only ones which have benefited from his sports psychology expertise, however, and he has been the one to benefit most en route to six All-Ireland crowns.

"I used to take it way too seriously, I used to think about football all the time and then I'd wonder why I had no energy in big games," McManamon said at yesterday's launch of the AIG Cups and Shields in GUI Headquarters, Carton House.

Slipping "So that was a big change for me. Now when I find myself slipping off track, I just have the tools to snap back to where I should be and where is my mindset.

"The other thing, when you hear what goes through a lot of people's heads you realise, 'Jeez, I'm not actually the only one who thinks this'. Or when you are doubting yourself, everyone doubts themselves, it's just who deals with it the best."

Amazingly, one of the games which McManamon is most synonymous with - the 2011 All-Ireland final victory over Kerry when his late goal off the bench swung the game in Dublin's favour - was very nearly a disaster as nervous energy left him drained.

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"I remember the first All-Ireland final I went on the pitch and after about five minutes I was finished, I was drained. I had no energy just because it had been built up so much," the 32-year-old said.

"I remember being on the sideline, I was wrecked even before the game, doing my warm-up and going, 'How am I so tired?' Then you go into the game and it takes you a while to get up to the pace."

He added of the game-changing goal: "It's strange when you score you get a burst of energy from it but some of the earlier games you would be up at night thinking about them. I keep it simple now.

"I know what I'm good at, I know what I'm not good at. I know my strengths, what I need to focus on in games and I have a structure there that I go through before every game. That's where I'm at.

"I'd do a few minutes before the game, writing down what I need to do but other than that, I try to get away from football, thinking about it, you can overdo it as well."

The Dublin stalwart has no great interest in adding his two cents to the debate about the viability of the one-sided Leinster Championship but he does take issue with the length of the GAA calendar and favours a "six-month season".

"It should be condensed. There's a lot of time wasted, I'd have it done by the Bank Holiday weekend in August. I'd probably play off more of a league basis or something like that," McManamon said.

"As amateurs, if you get a six-month season you could have three months for the club. Then you could actually have a social life.

"I'm interested in other sports and have wanted to play other sports but never got a chance. I've a lot of interests outside of Gaelic. Then you could be full on (GAA) for six months, that's my view."

Talk of 'financial doping' underpinning Dublin's remarkable success, as is suggested by many pundits, is something which McManamon cannot relate to in terms of his own career, which he insists has been "free".

"Some people are trying to use it as bait to wind us up. You just kind of smile at it. Anyone in my career that's supported me or that's helped make me the player I am doesn't get paid," he said.

"That's how I would look at it. You go up to the Jude's academy and there's hundreds of young lads playing and they're all volunteers giving their time to train them and give them a good Saturday morning enjoying the games.

"I know there's loads of money in whatever way it's spent, the county board are big into participation but as far as I'm concerned, my success has been free, if that makes sense."

Irish Independent

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