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29th Mar 2023

Darran O’Sullivan describes typical daily routine at inter-county training camp

Niall McIntyre

It’s the week when the amateurs become professionals.

Some will say that, when it comes to county GAA players, they’re full-time professionals anyway but that’s for another day.

A training camp might be a trip to Portugal, or it could be a trip to Carton House, and many teams will be getting ready to head off right about now, with easter week just around the corner.

But wherever you go, and no matter how long you’re going for, there’s only one guarantee and that’s that you’ll be sore on the way home.

And you’ll be tired and you’ll be achy.

As a member of the Kerry senior football panel for 13 years, Darran O’Sullivan has been on many training camps in his time and speaking on The GAA Hour this week, he took us through the nuts and bolts of it, the highs and the lows of it.

“They were very hard,” says the Glenbeigh-Glencar legend.

“For a lot of it, it was torture.”

Here’s the daily routine.

“You’d get up in the morning – you’d be in apartments and you’d have a few little bits around the house, fruit and teabags so you’d get up and have a cup of tea.”

Where would we be without the cup of tea?

“You’d train early in the morning, for us it used to be the running session, so you’d get that done, come back and have breakfast.

“Back to the rooms and up to bed.

“Get up again. The lunch-time session used to be football, right in the heat, and the pace of it was unbelievable. The pitches used to be perfect. No excuses.

“Then you’d have lunch, come back and might have another sleep or physio maybe.

Then there’d be an evening session – gym or a meeting where you’d be discussing things.

“Then in the evening, night-time, you’d have a bit of craic where all the childish behaviour and all the messing comes out!”

Having worked in the bank during his playing career, the former All-Ireland winning captain used always set aside a week of his holidays for the annual camp.

“I used book a week holidays for them.

“When I was playing, I’d never take holidays. I’d use up all my days off on the camp and then use a day’s holidays after away League games on the Mondays. That’d be it.

“From February to September it used to be like that, no holidays, you wouldn’t be going away, and then you’d be like, ‘we’ll head off now,’ but then you’ve county championship!”

But these camps – and the 36-year-old has the battle-scars to prove it – they were no holiday.

“The running sessions were never nice – and that didn’t matter if the sun was shining or if it was pissing rain.

“But the football over there, honestly, it was so quick. Just rapid quick.

“The training was great, the craic was good.

“The amount of work you get done, the bit of a bond you build – I couldn’t speak highly enough of them. We were lucky enough that we got plenty of chances to do them in our earlier years.

“To be honest, looking at them, I think Kerry need it at the minute. Whether it’s Portugal or up the road, you need something where the outside distractions aren’t there where you can solely focus on what you’re trying to do.

“Getting the full squad back, training together, playing off the same wave-length, that bit of speed of training will go up as well on the camp. That could bring a new level of confidence to them too.”

You can listen to the full show right here.

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