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Home » Sports » Senior Hurling Final » O’Brien’s experience adds strength to Ballyea cause
Adrian O'Brien, second left with the rest of the Ballyea management team, including Alan Duggan, Robbie Hogan, Raymond O'Connor, Diarmuid O'Sullivan, and Jude Quinlivan.

O’Brien’s experience adds strength to Ballyea cause

Champion Chatter

The newest member of Ballyea’s well-oiled backroom machine also shares the bulk of the coaching responsibilities.

Adrian O’Brien’s initial Strength & Conditioning role for 2021 has been fleshed out to include hurling coaching in what has been another storming season thus far for the holders.

Being the first time that Ballyea have reached back-to-back finals, their latest historic leap is one that Limerick native O’Brien modestly isn’t willing to take credit for.

“To be honest, I’d never get too excited about the good days or too low about the bad ones because in reality we are just there to support the players.

“Once these lads get to senior level, the majority of work is done so it’s the lads who coached and mentored them from Under 6 all the way up to minor and Under 21 that should take most of the credit.

“From a strength and conditioning standpoint, a big part of the remit here is just managing training loads really, that if they’re coming back from football that we’re not overloading them because it’s week-in week-out and if you pick up even a soft tissue injury in that period, you’re going to miss a major part of the year.”

Ballyea’s unique situation of having not only a large dual inter-county contingent but also representatives from seven different football clubs was initially challenging for O’Brien whose S&C expertise also helped St Finbarr’s to a first Cork Senior crown in 29 years last weekend.

However, as his relationship with the players developed, his understanding and more significantly appreciation of the admirable leadership that propels this squad also blossomed to new heights.

“It’s a dynamic that you can’t really prepare for until you experience it. It’s challenging from a coaching standpoint because it’s either a feast or a famine with regards player numbers at training as you could have 35 or 40 lads one week and only five or six the next.

“But that’s the way it is and we manage it as best we can and in fairness to Robbie and the lads, they are brilliant, they bring a great energy and have the experience to manage things so for Ballyea it’s really about gradually building momentum as the year goes on.

“The players are so mature. I’ve always said that there’s comfort in certainty and as a coach if you’re certain that there’s going to be a baseline level of honesty, communication, leadership, attitude, work-rate and commitment, all those thing you see on the walls of changing rooms all the time, if you see those values applied and you’re certain that they’re actually going to take place whenever the lads put on a jersey, that’s very comforting.

“The players also have good ownership in being part of the gameplan formulation as well. For the most part, it’s a shared dynamic and a shared discussion to put our heads together and come up with a gameplan and go from there.”

So what has he made of Éire Óg’s surge to a first county hurling decider in 22 years?

“Éire Óg are a fine side who are really well coached and really well set-up. They’re a very physical team, they’ve some unbelievably exciting forwards and they will be very hard to break down. So it’s going to be a great challenge and a great occasion because it promises to be a great day out in the Park and it’s a final pairing that we’re all relishing.”

About Eoin Brennan

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