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21st Jan 2018

‘The concept of a drink ban never sat well with me’ – Marc Ó Sé on GAA drinking bans

Jack O'Toole

Five-time All-Ireland winner Marc Ó Sé has hit out at drinking bans in the GAA and fears that if players are unable to control their downtime they will begin to resent their existence.

Ó Sé’s comments come on the back of Tipperary All-Ireland winner Kieran Bergin’s remarks that no other sport is asking players to abstain for months without alcohol.

Speaking to Colm Parkinson on Thursday’s GAA Hour, Bergin said that the commitment can only be justified by victory.

“It is an awful lot to get back out of it, don’t get me wrong. It’s brilliant to win an All-Ireland. A lot of inter-county players don’t get that chance,” said Bergin.

“At the same time, too, for the level of commitment that went in that year, at the end of the day if you were to ask me was it worth it… it was, but if you were to ask me about the sacrifices you’ve made to get there, it’s only worth it if you win it.

“If you’re not winning them regularly, I don’t see how it’s worth being involved in an inter-county set-up for the level of commitment, the level of your life you’ve to put on hold.”

Writing in his column in today’s Irish Mail On Sunday, Ó Sé noted that there needs to be a greater level of trust in players and that serious athletes will not abuse their bodies.

“I absolutely get the need to advise players on what to eat and how to refuel to ensure that your body is in the best shape to absorb the benefits of training, but the concept of a drink ban never sat well with me,” wrote Ó Sé.

“That is not in any way making light of an alcohol culture in this country, one which is not healthy, but I just never saw the point in a ban being put in place just for the sake of it.

“The reality is that if you are serious about your game you are never going to abuse yourself in that way, but going for a couple of pints with your friends is a way of unwinding.

“And if you can’t control your downtime then it is easy to understand why players would begin to resent their existence.

“The bottom line is that you have to trust your players to have the same ambition and desire to get the job done, while respecting that they have lives to live.

“That is no snowflake approach, just the common sense belief that if a player is happy in his head, enjoying his life on and off the field, then he is going to be in a far better place with his game.”

You can listen to the whole Bergin interview here from 41″00′.

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