Monday 26 August 2019

'You're supposed to act a particular way when you're a bloke, particularly a sportsman' - Kevin McManamon

Kevin McManamon of Dublin
Kevin McManamon of Dublin

Harry Clarke

Dublin forward Kevin McManamon has opened up on his past struggles in the game that led to sleepless nights ahead of big matches and negative thoughts that affected his performances.

St Jude's man McManamon spoke honestly about the highs and lows of inter-county football, with one of his lowest points coming just months after his famous individual goal in 2011 against Kerry turned the tide as Pat Gilroy's men lifted Sam for the first time in 16 years.

But just months later, McManamon was hauled ashore in the Leinster final against Meath at half time with boss Gilroy asking: "What's wrong with you, like?"

In a video released today, SuperValu GAA ambassador McManamon said: "2009, there was probably six of seven of us that got brought in that year that were a bit rough around the edges. I was a little bit out of my depth.

"Particularly, I would have had this you know, imposter idea that I'm going to be found out at any time. If I was to talk about the biggest challenges, I think mine were kind of internal.

"You're supposed to act a particular way when you're a bloke, particularly a sportsman. It was more of a personal thing. Was I good enough to play at the top, top level?

"It made me look inside and actually have a deep dig through the layers. I was getting in and out of games – playing well one week, playing poorly the other week. I'd be dropped essentially.

"2012, I got into the Leinster Final. I just completely crashed. Playing against Meath and I had seven turnovers in the first half. Gilroy, I remember coming up to me at half time saying, what's wrong with you, like?

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"I was just completely underperforming. I was hijacked. I wasn't in the right frame of mind, really. I was taken off, it was pretty much the end of my season that year. Just kind of doubting yourself before matches, hoping everything goes right rather than backing yourself. Dreading the game in the hours before the match and not sleeping the night before.

"The days it went right it was great, but days it went wrong it was, you know low enough, or challenging enough in terms of just responding to it you know? Because suddenly if you're winning, you're flying high, you're great. But if you're losing, then you feel brutal because you're probably linking your happiness to the rollercoaster of intercounty football."

McManamon went back to college in 2012 to study psychology and picked up the guitar again to play music. Chats with the Dublin sports psychologist also helped get the show back on the road with McManamon a key cog in Dublin's drive for five.

"I remember having a chat with our sports psych, Caroline, and that was a big change for me because it was the first time that I was really honest and really told anyone what I was like you know – 'this is what's going on in my head, like am I the only one that's like this?' Or 'how do you deal with it and stuff?' And that was a lightbulb moment for me.

"Why do I do this like? You know it's not worth the stress – but it 100% is. Once you get passed that, you walk it down and you challenge it. It's all good and the gifts you get at the end are beautiful."

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