Rebels hoping new physio's stellar CV can give them clinical edge
If Cork suffer any injuries this year, they can turn to a man who has worked on Harley Street and with Team GB.
The Rebels new physiotherapist Thomas Dekkers was hands-on, working with a number of players, including Eoin Cadogan, during Wednesday's McGrath Cup victory over Tipperary.
The Cork native came home last September with the sole objective of setting up his own clinic near Skibbereen after working with Britain's Olympians and in a London practice. However, as soon as the Rebel management got wind of the 34-year-old's CV, they phoned asking him to team up with physio Brian O'Connell.
"I got a call out of the blue, the news travelled fast," says Dekkers. "I just thought it's a great opportunity and I'd be delighted to be involved. "
Dekkers worked in the English Institute of Sport, fixing up Britain's athletes before they made their way to Brazil last summer, dealing with every sport from "taekwon-do to athletics".
This was very different to the challenge currently presented to him, Gaelic football.
"When you have professional athletes, that's their job. You tell them to do a routine and it's part of it," he said. "But with footballers, they've got full-time jobs or are in college. They can't afford to give as much time but their demands are still of a professional standard."
Dekkers helped UCC to Collingwood Cup glory in 2002 and played soccer with Cobh Ramblers at underage level before his studies took over.
And there were a lot of them. He graduated from UCC with a Physiology degree, then gained a Physiotherapy Masters from the University of East Anglia before picking up another Masters in Australia.
"Myself and my partner Niamh decided to take the best of what we had learned in Harley Street and working with different teams and bring it back home," he said.
Globetrotting is in the family as his mother came from the Caribbean and his father, who has run a doctor's practice since moving to West Cork, is from the Netherlands.
"They met in Holland and somebody in work told Dad about Ireland being a really nice place. They decided to move over in the 1970s," he said.
"They drove all down the west coast but when they came to Bantry they thought it was the most beautiful place in the world. They had two weeks of sunshine and that sold it to them. They bought an old farmhouse - and then it seemed to rain for the next 20 years."
Dekkers will hope it doesn't rain on the Rebels' parade in tomorrow's Kerry clash in the McGrath Cup (Mallow 2.0).