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O'Hare laments emphasis on fitness
24 Apr 2015 15:03
Strength and conditioning work must be done, admits Down’s Donal O’Hare, but shouldn’t be at the expense of practising the core skills of Gaelic football.
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Recent seasons have seen a trend of packed defences and an increased emphasis on fitness levels. This has resulted in a decline in standards of the traditional skills of the game such as high fielding and kicking with both feet.
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But O’Hare is one player going against the grain, insisting that to compete at the elite level, players must always hone their ball skills.
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“Every night I’m out practicing the pick-up, practicing the high catch, over at the pitch doing a bit of shooting, always something with the ball in hand,” O’Hare told RTÉ Sport.
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“Nowadays with the gym factor, and the strength and conditioning, I tend to stay away from that and focus on the skills.
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“A lot of people now might walk about with dumbbells or weights in their hand, whereas I tend to stick to the size 5 O’Neill’s [football].
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“It’s just something I’ve been brought up with – practice your skills every day. Just because I’ve made it now at county level doesn’t mean I stop that. If anything, I have to do more of that to make sure I’m competing at that top level and I’m not letting myself down.
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“The gym factor, it has to come with the game too, you have to do that as well.
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“Personally, I think there is too much emphasis [on fitness]. I think there should be more emphasis on game plan and more ball-orientated exercises, to get young fellows used to playing with a football and stuff like that.
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“I think the way GAA is going is very strength and conditioning-based. I put my hands up, it has to be done, you can’t shy away from it, your work has to be done. If I was to advise a young fellow nowadays, I would say, keep practicing your skills.
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"I wouldn’t say [skill levels] have] dropped. I just think the strength and conditioning has taken over a wee bit compared to the skills but I still think the skills level is very high, it has to be playing at that top level.
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“Maybe I’m just a wee bit biased because I’m not very good in the gym. There’s nothing better I like than going down to my local club, Burren, with ten balls, practising right and left foot, free-kicks, shots, whatever it is.”
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