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Eire Og's Shane O Donnell: “The psychological barrier of putting what happened to me the year before behind me, that was definitely the biggest thing I had to get over.” Photograph by John Kelly

O’Donnell happy with how he got his head back in the game

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One of the stories of the GAA this year has been Shane O’Donnell’s sparkling form. The Éire Óg man has reminded the hurling public of his undeniable skill and scoring ability with a series of devastating performances both at inter county and club level.

After suffering a concussion in training last summer, O’Donnell endured a lengthy spell on the sidelines while he missed Clare’s entire league campaign this year.

Fortunately, he was deemed fit enough to return to training in March as he tells The Clare Champion the advice was for him to jump right in and return to full contact training so that he could develop confidence in being able to take contact.

“I was told explicitly that I should be thrown straight in, that I was ready to go and if I got a knock that it would be the same as if I got a knock without ever having a concussion before.”

“I had fully recovered, and it would have hindered my recovery psychologically if I came back and said I can’t do that tackling drill or I can’t do this high ball drill or whatever it is.

“It would be in my mind and I’d be thinking I’m not 100 percent yet. I was thrown straight back into it and once the physios were happy for me to do full running then I was back at it.”

“The psychological barrier of putting what happened to me the year before behind me, that was definitely the biggest thing I had to get over.”

The feedback from players towards the split season has been positive as O’Donnell voices his support. O’Donnell is firm in his belief that the calendar needs to be condensed further.

“I’m a big fan of it (the split season). I would prefer if there was even less of a season to be honest and I don’t think it’s appropriate for teams to be going back playing in November or December. I think there should be a mandate that January onwards is really when you are actually allowed to train and that should be enforced.

“A lot of people have experienced when they get injured, or they come back later in the year and they only have a few weeks to ramp up into full fitness, they never have a problem with that. That should be at least a reason to try shortening the season even more.”

Without question, the gifted forward loves playing the game. However, he believes that more should be done to ensure the country’s best players don’t become overburdened.

“The vast majority of players are going through the year without a decent break. They might get three or four weeks in October or November but it is actually the standard that you will be playing 11 months of the year and it’s not appropriate. No other sport would do it.

“I don’t understand why an amateur sport would expect more than what they would from other sports. Burnout isn’t just a physical phenomenon. A lot of it is psychological as you need to decompress and enjoy things outside of hurling and GAA or just not training for a while. I don’t think that should be looked upon so negatively.”

Looking ahead to this Sunday’s showdown with Ballyea, O’Donnell feels that Éire Óg cannot afford to surrender any dominance they have in the game. Sixmilebridge wrestled control in the second and final quarters of the game with the Townies left to rely on a late O’Donnell goal to force extra time.

“I think our consistency needs to be improved. We can’t afford to let two full quarters go by where we are not really adding to the scoreboard realistically and there isn’t that much else to be honest.

“We did a lot of what we could against the Bridge. They are very strong and probably 12 or 13 of our players played near the top of their performance to get us over the line. We are obviously going to expect a huge amount of work and everything that goes with it. I don’t think it’s going to be very different from the Bridge game realistically.”

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