Cahill relieved to leave demands of intercounty game behind

Former Dublin star says all-consuming nature of modern game draining for players

Barry Cahill: “It’s just so demanding really, and teams are coming back earlier every year. There’s no real off-season, even if you’re not allowed train collectively, you feel under pressure to actually keep your body in decent nick.”

Barry Cahill: “It’s just so demanding really, and teams are coming back earlier every year. There’s no real off-season, even if you’re not allowed train collectively, you feel under pressure to actually keep your body in decent nick.”

 


It’s not quite a chorus of disapproval but former Dublin All-Ireland winner Barry Cahill has added his voice to recent claims that the intercounty game had become a little too all-consuming.

Cahill retired one year ago, aged just 31, and while he continues to play at club level, he looks back on the latter years playing for Dublin without any sense of regret – nor indeed any sense of loss.

“There are certain parts of it that became a bit of a chore,” says Cahill. “You’re going week-by-week, eating the perfect diet, the hydration, doing the morning sessions, etc. You could be doing about seven or eight sessions in total, within the seven days, whether it’s on the pitch or in the gym.

“It’s just so demanding really, and teams are coming back earlier every year. There’s no real off-season, even if you’re not allowed train collectively, you feel under pressure to actually keep your body in decent nick. So certainly I think the lifespan of an intercounty footballer is closing a lot earlier than what it was maybe ten or 15 years ago.

Sour note
“And certainly there was a few years that ended on a sour note, and you sort of just block them out. You’d nearly describe them as the lost years, you know, because you didn’t really get too much out of it. But in saying that, some of the hard defeats that you took in those games can actually drive you on then to success at a later stage.”

Earlier this week, Kerry footballer Paul Galvin declared that he had no intention on reversing his decision to retire, partly because “some of the fun had gone out of the game”, while Limerick hurler David Breen warned that “careers are being cut short” by the demands being placed on intecounty players.

One of Cahill’s former Dublin team-mates, Mossy Quinn, still only 32, is now playing as well if not better than ever for his club St Vincent’s, having also retired from the intercounty game at the end of 2012.

“The level of commitment to a county team is so high these days, compared to the club,” says Cahill. “I suppose, on average, you’d be giving maybe 25 hours a week to your county whereas you’re giving about ten hours to the club.

“Basically, you’ve a healthier balance in your life when you go back playing with your club. You’re not totally consumed by football, which can sort of be to your detriment at times. When you’re in this bubble of playing with Dublin and you’re just totally consumed by it and everyone wants to talk to you about it. And your every waking minute, you’re obsessed with the Dublin senior football team.”

Significant funds
Cahill was speaking at the launch of a GAA-related charity event – the Sam to the Summit – which in May hopes to raise significant funds for the Alan Kerins Projects by bringing the Sam Maguire and an All-Ireland football medal from each of the 32 counties to the top of Carrauntoohil. Cahill will be carrying up his All-Ireland medal from 2011, now that he has the time to do it.

One current Dublin player, who also attended the launch, wasn’t made available for interview: “It’s about getting the balance right,” says Cahill. “Being a Dublin player, there is a profile attached to it, and you do get a number of calls, and inquires. Jim Gavin has a plan in place to deal with that.

“Maybe a few years ago, things did run away a small bit for Dublin players, and maybe they lost a bit of focus on the training, and the match itself. But I think in the GAA, possibly, some managers are a slight bit paranoid, in terms of doing interviews, and what could develop, especially in the week of certain games. Because I think a lot of GAA guys are quite articulate, have a lot to say, and maybe it would be good to see that they weren’t as restricted as they currently are.”

The Sam to the Summit is limited to one further participant from each county: for more information see www.samtothesummit.com