The Paudie Kissane column: Hunger is key for Munster club hurling and football success in the depths of winter

The Paudie Kissane column: Hunger is key for Munster club hurling and football success in the depths of winter
Clyda Rovers' Gavin Carey and Chris Kenny pile the pressure on St Joseph's Seanie Malone in the Munster final. Picture: Tony Grehan/Press 22

THERE are many Cork teams involved in Munster Club action this coming weekend. 

It’s an exciting time for all involved but lose focus and the season could be over before you know it.

Heading into the provincial championships there can be a different feel to it compared to the county championship. That is certainly how it felt for me when Clyda Rovers won county and Munster intermediate honors in 2013.

There can be an expectation or pressure to win a county title. On achieving that goal you experience joy but massive relief also. It’s only then that the Munster championship comes into focus.

The most successful teams always want more, addicted to that winning feeling. That is how the provincial championships should be approached. The fuel to ensure preparation and intensity is at the desired level. Only then will talent make a difference.

The Mourneabby ladies are one team who certainly seem to have the hunger to achieve All Ireland success again this next year. Sometimes you can talk about it all you want and feel preparations are going well but it is not until a team is in the face of battle can the hunger be really tested.

Last Sunday in tough conditions at the excellent facilities in Mourneabby, the ladies team came through a stern test from Donaghmoyne. Trailing by three points at half time, Mourneabby ladies raised their game to win by six come the full-time whistle.

This team suffered its fair share of heartache before they eventually reached the summit in 2018. I am sure they haven’t forgotten those struggles and are determined to stay as champions for another while yet.

Team commitment and preparation is vital as we know but this sustained success is not possible without great friendships and spirit within the group and among its loyal supporters.

On an individual level, I would have admired Kilkenny hurler Paul Murphy’s recent views on spending the next six months in the Lebanon. On peacekeeping duties with the Irish army Murphy will not return until May, which obviously is not ideal with the start of the Leinster round-robin championship just around the corner.

The return date to Ireland was out of his control but Murphy was thinking of the things that were in his control. Positive mindset, application to training and how he could get an edge on the players back home. This is his second trip so experience gained from his first time away would of big benefit no doubt.

Lack of match practice would be the biggest hurdle to overcome come May but mentally Murphy would be very fresh and hungry come championship. Come the spring this lack of official matches, would also allow Murphy to give a full commitment to his physical training whilst still practicing his hurling skills.

Teams are fitter and faster now and the national leagues are so competitive. Therefore during the league, if results are a priority training volume or intensity may be reduced to ensure freshness come game day. Murphy will not have this problem.

There will always be hurdles to overcome whether that be through results, non-selection, injury or personal circumstances. Irrespective, with the right outlook, there will always be areas for improvement.

Inter-county teams are starting back their preparations now for the new season and for the teams in Division 2 and 3 it will be like preparing for championship. Final league placings this year will dictate whether a team is in the new Tier 1 or 2 championships.

Combined with the usual battle for promotion or relegation, this will lead to some huge battles in early 2020. You might even find bigger crowds attending a league game next March than will attend a championship game later in the summer.

Barring an injury crisis it may be harder for a newcomer to break into the first team next year as the results of every league game could be important. Most teams in recent years would have some consistency in selection but there would still be room for experimentation with the view of developing new players for the championship.

Will the player who is after a long club season or carrying a minor overuse injury suffer next spring as the first few league games are now more important than ever. This is particularly relevant to the talented player who is with a smaller county with less depth in the panel. This player may not get the rest he needs and may suffer for it later in the year.

Other players to suffer will be the students combining exam preparations with condensed Sigerson Cup and inter-county U20 competitions in January and February next year. A more condensed schedule may look pretty on paper but the welfare of the player seems to have been forgotten.

Been involved in inter-county management I have experienced first hand the negative effect exams, study, travel can have on a player's ability to recover from training and games. Players have different personalities and some will tend to worry more than other’s. Sleep is then what suffers most here.

While most look for the next fancy gadget to improve the rate of recovery from strenuous exercise, most will have minimal effect if a player is sleep-deprived and his or her life is not organised. Poor recovery then naturally will increase the risk of injury.

You just wonder what factors are been considered when Croke Park makes these important decisions. Considering these latest events it will be interesting what the new fixture review committee proposes in the coming weeks.

Contact: @paudiekissane

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