Where are they now?
(Former hurler and rugby player)
As training methods and preparations for GAA teams reach extremes, former Clare hurler and Munster rugby player Michael Arthur is all too familiar with pushing himself to the limit while playing at the top level. He hails from Newmarket-on-Fergus, one of the hurling strongholds in Co Clare and played a big part in their dominance of the county championship during the 1960s and '70s as well as playing rugby for Munster and soccer with Limerick.
And during that time Arthur trained to extremes. He was often seen running for hours around the fields of Dromoland Castle, through rivers and over ditches, carrying logs on his back as makeshift weights and wearing heavy duty boots while doing sprints.
Arthur was one of the country's original athletes and dual players, excelling at everything he turned his hand to. From sprinting to hurling, soccer and rugby, he could do it all and mix it with the best. Arthur loved to train; he researched the best and most modern training practices, reading books and biographies from the top coaches and athletes in the world. He was fascinated by milers and back then Ireland was producing some of the best around.
But hurling was the game he loved, first with his club Newmarket and then with Clare. It was what he was reared on. However, back then playing foreign sports was in contravention of the rules of the GAA. Arthur was aware of the rule but in 1958, two years after he'd made his debut for the Clare senior hurlers, he made the decision to play a game of soccer with his local club.
He posed for a team photo not thinking of the consequences and a few weeks later he received notification that he was banned from playing hurling for both club and county. The forward was devastated but his love of sport and natural talent led him to play soccer for Limerick and from there rugby for Munster. He was absent from the GAA scene for nine years, and during that time he made a name for himself as an all-rounder on the sports field by effortlessly picking up rugby and soccer.
When he did eventually return to his favourite game, he was out of practice but after a few hard sessions with the hurley and sliotar in the handball alley he was soon back to his best. In a three-week spell he went from playing for the Newmarket juniors to their senior team and then straight into a starting spot for Clare.
Arthur still lives in the village of Newmarket and is a regular at club and county games.
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