Sunday 21 January 2018

Galway hurling manager Anthony Cunningham: 'Preparation levels these days are ridiculous'

Galway boss Cunningham believes players' county commitments are now '24-7'

Anthony Cunningham and his Galway team face Cork on Sunday
Anthony Cunningham and his Galway team face Cork on Sunday
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Galway manager Anthony Cunningham believes the levels of preparation required to play inter-county hurling and football have gone to "ridiculous" levels.

Cunningham hailed the work ethic within his and other squads around the country but believes that only certain careers allow you to meet your full potential, such are the demands of the modern game.

"If you're a teacher it helps," Cunningham mused. "They're finished at 3.30. The amount of time the likes of David Burke has to recuperate, Cyril Donnellan. They came back from operations and are back after a short time. They're examples. Students and teachers.

"I was talking to John Power of Kilkenny about six months ago. He has his own young guys coming who are promising. He is a full-time farmer with a huge farm. He said there is no way now that (he'd) make it."

And Cunningham believes the demands on players stretch way beyond the time they spent training or in the gym.

"The levels this thing has gone to is ridiculous. It's 24-7. The nights they are off they are in doing yoga or they're in the sea. The nights we're not hurling they're in the gym. They'll have a programme to do. But the condition all the top teams are in..."

And the Galway boss can understand why some top footballers like Donegal's Karl Lacey have opted not to work to help ensure they perform at their optimum.

"The hardest thing is for these guys is working. You've seen a few of the footballers taking time out - that's all for recovery. That's the thing that they're missing.

"If you've to get up the following morning at seven o'clock or eight o'clock and you've to work, and you probably have to sit at a desk or drive a car around the country - if you get a tweak of a hamstring the night before, that's not doing you good."

The Tribesmen are preparing for their All-Ireland SHC quarter-final clash with Cork in Semple Stadium on Sunday. It will be their first outing since the Leinster final defeat to Kilkenny where they put in a performance that Cunningham believes they can build on.

Galway haven't won an All-Ireland quarter-final clash in 10 years but they are boosted by the return to fitness of David Collins and Jason Flynn. However, the game comes too soon for Conor Cooney.

"We performed well (in the Leinster final). We're disappointed to be honest - you'd have to be disappointed. We did come up short in a number of positions. The guys would have been disappointed with certain areas of the performance.

"It's staring you in the face (we need) a slight improvement, or a tidying up in some corners because overall we're playing well, going well.

"They're the best team in the country, they're the team to beat, and you're going to be tested in every corner against them.

"We came up short - but not that short.

"The total honesty of this is that the players are really buoyed by their performance. They would know that there is a good 20pc they can catch up on.

"Kilkenny may be at their top - they'll always be at their top when you're playing them - but in certain quarters we would have played quite well."

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