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'On a training camp in Portugal, Jack made a huge mistake by letting us out for a few beers'

‘There was absolute carnage, one fella broke his jaw,’ Marc Ó Sé recalls on The42 GAA Weekly.

Jack O'Connor celebrates after winning the All-Ireland in 2004.
Jack O'Connor celebrates after winning the All-Ireland in 2004.
Image: INPHO

THE QUICK TURNAROUND between league and championship, due to the condensed season, meant that the usual gap that allowed county teams head away on training camps is no longer an option. 

On this week’s episode of The42 GAA Weekly, Marc Ó Sé recalled some yarns from pre-championship trips away with the Kerry team.

On one team bonding trip up the Galtee Mountains in 2014, members of the Ranger Wing of the Irish Army put the Kingdom squad through their paces.

“We were coming down the mountain and we knew it was near the end of the day. We were so fed up of the whole day, mentally it was very challenging. We were coming down the mountain and Declan O’Sullivan, whose knees were never good at the best of times, he fell into a hole and he was in it knee-high.

“He got out anyway and he was minus a shoe. So I stuck my hand in to see if I could get the shoe and I took out the shoe. He caught the shoe, in pure rage and just flung it down the mountain. He says, ‘Fuck it I’ll keep going’ and he just ran down the mountain minus a shoe. 

“It’s funny, you look back on days like that and when you’re training and playing, they’re the memories. Whatever they say about winning All-Irelands and things like that, it’s memories like that you’ll always have that really stand out. That day we’ll never forget it. 

“You watch Ultimate Hell Week, that was like an Ultimate Hell Day.

“There will be camps you go on and it doesn’t lead to success. Fortunately for us we won the All-Ireland that year but it doesn’t always work out that way. It was definitely a positive.”

The players were asked to bring items from a list with them on the day and Dr Crokes player Daithi Casey was punished for not having all items. He was forced to wear a gas mask for a few hours.

“Poor aul Daithi Casey, I was in tears laughing at him,” added Ó Sé. “The poor divil was wearing a gas mask for half the day, he couldn’t breathe like.

“And anytime I saw him for the month afterwards I’d just look at him and I’d break down laughing because I’d be thinking about it. But those things, when you’re training hard and struggling, you think about those things and they actually keep you going a small bit.”

During Jack O’Connor’s first stint in charge, a trip to Portugal also coincided with All-Ireland success later that year.

“We were on a few training camps in Portugal. On one of them Jack O’Connor made a huge mistake. We were for six days and we had trained two days in-a-row. And that had consisted of 8am focusing on running, then 2pm football and 5pm gym. Three sessions in a day and after two days we had six sessions done. 

“Jack made a huge mistake by telling us that we could go out for a few beers. Out we went and there was absolute carnage. We got home around 4am, one fella broke his jaw. Dan Doona, he went off to America afterwards, very talented footballer.

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“The captain at the time Daire Ó Cinneide landed down to Jack’s room at 3am to say he was after breaking his jaw.  

“After that it went on to the following day, there were more fellas drinking the following day. Ger O’Keeffe the selector went into Aidan O’Mahony’s room and said, ‘Aidan you have to get up man, there’s training.’ Aidan just turned to him and said, ‘Listen Ger, please now close the door from the outside.’

“So that was the end of that. Mike McCarthy had told Jack he was leaving the panel.  

“So what was supposed to be a great training week ended up having two of our better players were nearly leaving the panel. But in fairness to him he got it going again and the two boys steadied up a small bit.

“But again we were lucky enough we won the All-Ireland that year. We went on a lot of training camps where we didn’t win but that year we won.”

To listen to the full episode, go to members.the42.ie.

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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