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McConville's new challenge as he joins Laois hurlers

 

By Declan Bogue

His background in addiction counselling has led 2002 All-Ireland football winner Oisín McConville to what he describes as a "refreshing" switch to the management backroom team for Laois hurlers.

Laois manager Eamonn Kelly has gone on record about his belief that sports psychology is a crucial ingredient in preparing teams, but McConville is unsure about such a narrow definition.

"I don't see it as sports psychology," the Crossmaglen multiple All-Ireland club winner told the Belfast Telegraph.

"The vast majority of what I do day to day, in the job that I am in, which is Addiction Counselling, a lot of it is psychology. If that's psychology, maybe I am doing that, but not in any sort of formal role.

"The way I see my role is facilitating players, trying to get the best out of them. That might sound a bit airy-fairy, but that's exactly what it is. I deal with them as a team, but I also deal with them as individuals."

McConville initially met Tipperary man Kelly at his own club Kildangan's dinner dance last February. The two stayed in touch thereafter and it led to an invitation to come down and address the players on a one-off basis.

After that, he continued to be asked down. While he ended his involvement as Crossmaglen co-manager with John McEntee because of the pressures of time, he has a looser arrangement this time.

"I am really loving it. There's something refreshing about it. Hurling is new ground for me but I just find it really refreshing," he said.

"I can talk to them about performance and referring to the fact that I think there is more in them. Maybe they are not playing to their potential."

The major difference he sees between the two codes is the level of resilience of hurlers in general, he believes.

"I played on teams that were very resilient, that got on with things, but I just think hurling, you are very lucky to come off a hurling field without some sort of an injury, a nick, a bruise or whatever.

"And yet, they turn up at training on a Tuesday night and there is nobody sitting in the physio room, they are all back out there.

"If that doesn't tell you how strong they are, not just physically but also mentally, then I don't know what would."

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