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04th Jan 2023

Sean Kelly on the challenges of playing for a full year without a pre-season

Lee Costello

“I’m actually looking forward to a pre-season next year.”

Galway captain Sean Kelly has been playing in peak condition for an entire calendar year now, starting practically every game and doing so without a pre-season.

The 25-year-old began his season in the FBD league, before attacking Sigerson, gaining promotion with Galway in the league, winning the Connacht championship and then leading his county all the way to the All-Ireland final.

Then it was straight into the club scene, where they won the county championship, conquered Connacht and are now in the All-Ireland semi-final against Glen.

Sean KellySean Kelly (Moycullen, Galway), pictured ahead of the AIB GAA All-Ireland Football Senior Club Championship Semi-Final, which takes place this Sunday, January 8th at Croke Park at 3.30pm.

This means that Kelly has been in championship mode for most of the year, and hasn’t had an opportunity to have an off-season, or pre-season where he can lift as heavy as possible, and build a foundation for the year ahead.

However, with careful management and the help of strength and conditioning coaches, the Galway skipper explains how he has managed to stay in peak condition.

“I started playing this time last year in the FBD and I’ve been playing nearly every game since, which has been with Sigerson, Galway, and now back again with the club.

Sean KellyThe AIB GAA All-Ireland Club Championships features some of #TheToughest players from communities all across Ireland. It is these very communities that the players represent that make the AIB GAA All-Ireland Club Championships unique.

“Something I’ve tried to do is manage when to peak, when to lift heavy, and obviously with Galway we have a whole plan in place ,but going back to club – it was probably something going back to the group stages – I was able to do a bit more strength work.

“Then when we went into the knockout stages I went more kind of explosive work, but obviously we kept going and going so it’s just been about maintaining strength and still trying to build so you have that explosiveness and that power.

“It was in the group stages though that spread over about eight weeks, where I put in that strength bit and thankfully we were getting results, even though we were in a tough group.

Sean KellyNow in its 32nd year supporting the GAA Club Championships, AIB is extremely proud to once again celebrate the communities that play such a role in sustaining our national games.

“But since then, and it’s been three months or so, it’s been all about maintaining strength and being explosive so you’re still able to be in peak condition when you’re playing a match.

“It is tough to balance without a pre-season I won’t lie, and it’s probably something I actually look forward to next year, but if we do get over the line against Glen and keep going, then we’re straight into the league with Galway.”

Of course, the mental burnout is just as important a factor for players as the physical burnout and with so many high pressured games coming thick and fast, Kelly had to keep his head right.

Sean Kelly

Thankfully, the well-oiled machine that is Moycullen GAA meant that he was able to ease himself back into club football following the loss to Kerry in the All-Ireland final.

“After the Galway loss (in the All-Ireland final) it was a bit of a tough end to the year so mentally you’re obviously a bit all over the place.

“In fairness, getting my mind off it early was by going back training, and I wasn’t required to push standards or anything; there’s enough lads in the club that meant we just sort of fitted right back in.

Sean Kelly

“Some of the lads who were with Galway this year were chomping at the bit to get going because some of them didn’t get as much game time, so they were just dying to play.

“They were the ones pushing training on, pushing standards, and it meant that I could take nearly a step back and just focus on a bit of football.

“I got away for a little while as well, took a little break , but at the same time I was under as much pressure with Moycullen when I got back because it wasn’t me driving everyone on, we had a lot of senior lads able to do that.”

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