Former Ireland and Munster rugby captain Paul O'Connell was guest of honour this week at a breakfast morning for UL GAA club. The Fitzgibbon and Ashboure cup winning sides held their event at the Castletroy Park Hotel, the official sponsor of the club.
The event saw Pat McDonagh announce that the hotel, situated across the road from the University Campus, would again sponsor the UL GAA teams for a further three seasons.
The event itself included a half hour chat with O'Connell, who talked about coaching, his move to Toulon and his advice on the theme of the morning - The secret to success.
One piece of advice O'Connell gave was to coaches and how they can keep half time as simple as possible.
"I've never remembered one half-time team talk from my playing days. I've never walked onto the pitch with any of the advice iIve received at half time. You're banjaxed tired, you're under pressure, and you get about 15 messages from three different coaches. One of the things I try and do at half time is give the players as little information as possible"
Another topic of interest to the GAA followers in attendance was in relation to training smarter.
"I played some of my best rugby at 35, but I was only training at 50% as to what I used to when I was young. I was training a lot smarter. I always had a great plan, as I couldn't train as much as when I was young"
The former Lions captain also spoke about the move to Toulon, in France, which never came about due to a career ending injury. In fact, the former Young Munster man admitted that the injury may have been a blessing in disguise.
"In comparison to Munster, it was absolutely poles apart, the environment, the way they looked after the players, the way the players looked after each other. It wasn't a relation to what we had in Munster. They may have been winning European Cups.... I was only there a short period, but I didn't recognise any of the great attributes we have in Munster From an injury point of view, to go down at 35, with the injuries I had, I think there would have been a physical price to be paid if I had been there for 18 months. So I think it was probably a blessing in disguise. I'd have loved to live there, in the South of France, learned the language, played with some world class players"
One final point, which stuck with many in attendance, was O'Connell's belief in personal fitness and being able to deliver more 'work' in a game, more than the man next to you.
"For me, it always starts with having the ability to deliver more work than anyone else. I think for a lot of players, with new training, with the GPS, with weights and recovery, the thing around fitness and the ability to deliver a large volume of work has faded a bit. Remember the Clare team which did all the mad training with Ger Loughnane. They had incredible belief in their fitness. And that's what I feel we had with Munster back in the day. I think that's the most important for young guys to take. After that, it's chasing down the basic skills of the game"
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