"Nowadays, even if I don't hit a ball, I don't care as long as we win" - Gleeson learning from the past 2 months ago

"Nowadays, even if I don't hit a ball, I don't care as long as we win" - Gleeson learning from the past

Oisin McConville texted Liam Cahill recently to ask about Austin Gleeson.

Gleeson was due to appear on the BBC's GAA Social podcast so McConville went looking for some background information. And while it might surprise some, it might not surprise others, Cahill's response was emphatic.

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It was a huge compliment to Austin Gleeson because what Cahill said to McConville was that if he was going to war, Austin Gleeson was one of the first men he'd want with him. What more do you need to know?

Cahill and Gleeson had their moments.

On that same podcast, Gleeson spoke about last year's League League game up in Antrim. His parents have friends up there and Gleeson asked Cahill if he could stay on with them that night. One thing led to another and word got back to Cahill that Gleeson had been drinking. He was then given a dressing down at their next training session.

That's just one example but while Gleeson may have his flaws, we all do, Cahill's respect for him is telling.

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We spoke to the Mount Sion man today at the launch of eir's sponsorship of the All-Ireland hurling championship and we started off by asking him about Cahill's compliment.

"It was great to hear that," Gleeson says, "To hear that from a manager who you only had for a few years, that's great."

"But we had a good relationship," he adds.

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"It might have looked from the outside that we didn't, but we did.

"He did a lot for me personally and on the field, so it was great to hear to be fair. He gave it everything for Waterford, and that's all we could have asked."

Gleeson also talked about issues he has had with his fitness during that BBC interview and we asked how he managed that side of things during this off-season, given that it was longer than in previous years.

"We had a bit of football, but it wouldn't be the highest of standards!

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"So you have to keep an eye on yourself even when you're not in training. That's the biggest thing. You have to be tipping away in the gym, outside on bikes, to keep it going, that's what the majority of us are doing. If you don't do that, you'll be months behind.

"And the way the game has gone now, it's very hard to get back to that level."

On the subject of dealing with expectation - the man was Hurler of the Year at 21 - Gleeson says that the best way to deal with it for him is understanding that he doesn't have to win games on his own.

"I always thought that if I play well, it gives the team a good chance. But that was a selfish way of looking at it.

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"Nowadays, I know that even if I don't hit a ball, I don't care as long as we win.

"That's what Liam and Mikey used to explain to me - if you get three hooks, three blocks, three turn-overs, that's just as good as scoring. I tried to make that a big part of my game as well, over the last few years, to get those hooks, blocks and turnovers. And I'll try do the exact same thing again this year."

There's always debate about where to play him but Gleeson says that his favourite position is in the half forward line.

"I'd probably say wing or centre forward to be honest with you. The way the game has gone now, you can kind of do both, defending and attacking from there."

Having had his disciplinary issues in the past - Gleeson was sent off twice last year - he says that while he will continue to play on the edge, his aim is to cut those 'stupid incidents' out of his game. He admitted to, with refreshing self awareness, that he has no-one to blame for those incidents other than himself.

"I put myself in those positions. It's nothing to do with anyone else. It was my own fault and that's the way it's been. There's situations where I have held my cool and other times when I haven't, and that's when I let myself down and let the lads down and let the management down.

"That's something I have been working on the last few years but last year I got myself into those stupid situations again. Maybe there's a bit of it, that my reputation precedes me, but it's my own fault for giving that reputation out.

"At the end of the day, I won't be changing the way I play, which is on the edge. Because if I did that it would take a lot away from my game. That's my game, I need to be fired up to get going a good bit.

"If I can just get rid of the stupid incidents, I will be a lot better myself. It's something I need to work on personally. I think I should have learnt a lot more last year, so hopefully there's no more of those incidents this year."

Waterford hurling star, Austin Gleeson, in attendance at Croke Park today following the unveiling of eir as a new official sponsor of the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship. The five-year deal, which begins with the 2023 Championship season, will see eir’s partnership with the GAA evolve to support the Senior Hurling Championship.