Saturday 20 January 2018

I've learned to rein in GAA instincts – Meyler

Hull City star David Meyler admits he was 'too eager' in his early days as a footballer in England. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Hull City star David Meyler admits he was 'too eager' in his early days as a footballer in England. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

David Meyler believes toning down his natural GAA instincts has helped him to become a better Premier League footballer as he prepares for an FA Cup final appearance at Wembley at the end of the season.

The Irishman has enjoyed a fine campaign with Hull who realistically need a maximum of three points from four league matches to ensure their top-flight status, although they are keen to get it done as quickly as possible before the distraction of their May 17 date with Arsenal comes into focus.

Meyler, a double cruciate victim during his time at Sunderland, has thrived this term under the tutelage of Steve Bruce and believes that he has refined his game to become more effective in elite company. The son of hurling legend John, the current Carlow manager, David conceded that his overly physical approach was in danger of being counter-productive.

"I was too eager," says Meyler, reflecting on his early days in England and associated injury issues. "I come from a massive GAA background. I have learned and I don't tackle half as much as I used to.

"Now it's more about reading the game. I have matured. Now, if I watch a game, like Atletico and Chelsea the other night, I study the players in my position and look at the positions they take up and why they are playing Champions League football."

Meyler is determined to be a big part of Martin O'Neill's Irish plans, dismissing the suggestion there could be a problem because the Derryman sold him to Hull.

"The boss didn't want me to leave Sunderland but I said I needed to go to play regular football," explains the 24-year-old. "I begged and I pleaded with him and he said 'look, I'll leave you go'. I had 13 games to play for Hull and I went and I played 13 and I was loving life, just to play regular football. It had been stop-start for 20-22 months.

"He (O'Neill) didn't want me to go but he saw how much I was enjoying it. Thank God Hull made it permanent."

Meyler, speaking at the launch of the FAI's new e-flow Summer Soccer Schools, asserted that he is still learning his trade. "You can always get better and that's what I'm trying to do.

"Everyone talks about Cristiano Ronaldo being one of the best footballers in the world and you speak to people who played for Man United and they rave about how much he's in the gym, how much he's practising. I'm working on my first touch, my passing, my finishing all the time," he said.

"I got asked a week ago by someone, 'do you feel like a Premier League player' and I said not until I play 100-150 games in the Premier League and then I'll say, 'maybe.' It's right to say it's been my first free-flowing season that I've played the majority of matches.

"So it's been nice, but when I've played 100-150 games then I can look back and start to feel like a Premier League footballer."

Irish Independent

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