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21st Mar 2023

“Man, could he run!” – Darran O’Sullivan recalls the greyhound that bossed Kerry pre-season training

Niall McIntyre

Darran O’Sullivan was a sprinter not a stayer.

He came to that realisation a long time ago.

Anything under 100metres and he was golden but as the Glenbeigh-Glencar legend says himself, anything over it and he was in up against it.

Distance running has been a part of GAA pre-season training for donkey’s years though and playing as he did from 2005 right up to 2018, O’Sullivan has found himself mired in many slogs.

Speaking on Monday’s GAA Hour podcast, the show’s host recalled your typical Kerry pre-season training routine – pre-season was a different beast back then, given how much longer the season was – and he says inter-county players have it much easier nowadays.

“We were actually talking about it at the weekend,” recalls O’Sullivan.

“We were training in Dr Crokes at one stage and I’m not sure whether it was during or after the League – but it was pre-season and we used to do these runs.

“There was a lad in with us at the time Philip O’Connor – man, could he run!

“Every time you got called into groups, you’d be like ‘aw no, Philip is in the group.’

“Honestly, we used to do these one lappers, and he was a good half a lap ahead of me.

“That shouldn’t be possible but he’d take off in a proper sprint, and just keep going.

“Then he’d finish and wouldn’t even be blowing for air. I’d come back a minute after him and I’d be absolutely purple,” says O’Sullivan.

“Anything over 100metres and I was goosed, but the runs didn’t knock a stir off some fellas.

O’Sullivan feels that seeing as the season has shortened, teams don’t have time for these manic pre-season schedules. Otherwise they’d be turning out jaded every weekend for League games. Because this was tough going back in his day.

“You’d have had long running sessions, and your break would be a bit of football,” he says.

“But the football would be tough, that’s not a break, you’re still running around after the ball.

“You could be unlucky and be marking one of the lads who had their runs done, and the runs wouldn’t have knocked a stir off them. Like Donnchadh Walsh, like Philip.

“You could be doing short, sharp stuff. Back then there’d be some longer stuff as well.

“It was heavy metal back then, it was taxing on the legs.

“You’d be doing a good bulk of weights as well, maybe Monday and Wednesday, then Tuesday and Thursday you’d be training and running and then at the weekend maybe back with the club and you’d have some fella marking you looking to make his mark and battering you around the place! Hard going.”

All hail the split season!

Listen to the full podcast here.

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