Sligo manager confirms what we always thought - Some lads are built to play on astro 3 years ago

Sligo manager confirms what we always thought - Some lads are built to play on astro

Can you feel the burn?

If the answer it 'no', then you probably are not playing on astro turf.

In intercounty football the opportunities to play on an artificial surface are few and far between. In the depths of winter there could be challenge matches played on 3G pitches but, for the most part, the GAA is a grass and sod kind of organisation.

That is how the vast majority of people like it. For some the exaggerated bounce is too difficult to read after a life of soggy turf, for others it is the toll it takes on the knees, while for others it is the carpet burn.

However, for some Gaelic footballers, that reliable bounce and firm surface is perfect. It makes them better players. This is what Niall Carew has found as he prepares for Sunday's Connacht SFC preliminary round encounter with New York on the astro turf pitch of Gaelic Park.

Since concluding their National League campaign at the beginning of April with a win over Louth, Sligo have trained exclusively on astro turf in preparation for Sunday.

They have been limited to As v Bs games as no opposing manager in their right mind will play a challenge match on astro turf because of the whole bounce, knees and burn thing.

"Our only focus since the League has been on New York, we have only trained on astro turf pitches since the National League finished. That is how seriously we are taking New York," Carew told Colm Parkinson on Thursday's GAA Hour.

Listen to the whole interview [from 22'45"] or continue reading below.

"No team will play us on it, I wouldn't play on it if another manager asked me either," said the former Waterford boss. "The first thing you have to do on astro is take that first ball that comes in to you.

"If it goes away from you it is gone so the first thing to do is to gather than and if you do that you are away and it is very hard to defend and that goes for both sides."

Already without Kevin McDonnell, Luke Nicholson and Gerard O'Kelly-Lynch for a variety of reasons, Carew has admitted that his starting side has been affected by the playing surface - with the astro-only training throwing up some unexpected starters.

"That has worked well for us as I have seen players who are just better suited, a bit like a race horse, different ground. It is similar to that, believe it or not," said Carew.

"There are two or three players playing Sunday who would not normally be playing if it was on grass. I think that is the way to go."

Carew will not have known exactly what he was dealing with until the players got a chance to take to Gaelic Park on Friday after their Thursday flight to the United States.

"We have been working on making sure the first touch is good and the right type of ball is going in. I know from Gaelic Park too, the bounce is probably higher than most astro pitches and it is a little bit firmer," said the Kildare native.

They are facing a New York side who, bolstered by the likes of Tom Cunniffe and Danny Sutcliffe, will be hoping to build on last year's near miss against Roscommon.

There could be the bounce of a ball in it.