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Time spent on video analysis, 'ridiculous' drink bans and regrets over 2017 Munster final

Retired Clare hurler Brendan Bugler has opened up following his decision to step away from the inter-county game.

Brendan Bugler (file pic).
Brendan Bugler (file pic).
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

ALL-IRELAND WINNING CLARE hurler Brendan Bugler has opened up about his decision to retire from the inter-county game in October.

The 32-year-old has penned a column for AIB entitled ‘Why I couldn’t give any more to Clare,’ delving deeper into his decision to step away from the fold after 11 years.

He writes about, how as the seasons passed, it became ‘mental torture’ and how all of the extra gym sessions, meetings and video analysis work took its toll.

Life off the field was neglected due to the amount of time involved with being on the Clare panel, doing things that he feels could be done away from the collective set-up.

Bugler explains, on video analysis in particular: “Men playing senior hurling at the top level are mature enough to take personal responsibility for their own game.

“I would much have preferred to analyse my own game and the team’s game in the luxury of my sitting room rather than in a cold damp room either before or after training. I simply hated these meetings.

“When you’re that bit older, and you’ve had a child as I have had recently, and you’re building a house or whatever, it’s over the top. Do you sit still and put your life on hold? It’s very hard to give up four or five nights per week.

“From my experience, we must start to look at the needs of each player. I’m 32 years of age now and I want to be home and I’m needed there, far more than I was earlier in my career.

Davy Fitzgerald celebrates with Brendan Bugler Bugler and Davy Fitzgerald celebrate their All-Ireland win in 2013. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“The lack of tailoring to individual needs is the big one though, and part of that is down to not trusting players. Surely lads can be considered responsible enough to look at their own clips of video analysis at home than to do it all collectively.

“If they do not take responsibility on analysing themselves they should not be on the panel anyway.”

He referenced a recent interview with Kieran Bergin in The Irish Daily Star where he spoke about the treatment of players involved in the GAA, voicing particularly strong opinions on drink bans.

Bugler admitted that he disagreed with some of the former Tipperary hurler and footballer’s thoughts, but was on board with others, particularly the bans.

“The idea that a lad would be told to not drink for six months is ridiculous,” he continues.

“And the very suggestion of banning 35 lads from doing so and expecting it to be adhered to is silly. It’s asking for trouble, and it creates frustration then when some people step out of line. Senior players are adults and should know what is expected rather that have to be told, and we are ‘amateurs’ at the end of the day.”

The Whitegate defender wrote candidly about last summer’s Munster final defeat to Cork, sharing his lasting disappointment from that day in Semple Stadium.

Brendan Bugler In action in 2014. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

“I think it was there for us in 2017 and, being honest, I still am bitter with decisions that were made that day. To me the main focus should always be on ourselves and our game.

“Sure, you have to look at the opposition, but we overdid it and it was probably the most disappointed I ever was during my 11 years playing senior for Clare.”

Although Bugler wrote at length about some of the issues he has with the inter-county game today, he also eloquently mapped his career and shared some of the standout moments along the way.

“Overall, playing for Clare definitely had more pros than cons. The buzz of the call-up, the debut, the first man of the match award, the plaudits, the mega buzz of the big games as Jackie (Tyrrell) would call it, you versus your man, the challenge.

“I feel privileged to have had these experiences.’

You can read the column in full here.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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Emma Duffy

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