Gaelic Games continue to evolve in front of our eyes. Looking back at video clips even from the nineties and early naughties, player physique was of a powerful bulky nature. Nowadays it seems that gaelic athletes are conditioning themselves for speed, flexibility and agility instead of bulk and strength.
And with this, diet has become a huge element of physical development. Players are constantly watching their eating habits during the season to ensure they’re are their peak. But surely if you’re an All Ireland winner, there must be a period following the result where players can be a little over indulgent?
Dublin and Na Fianna defender Jonny Cooper has had a tremendous few years. Along with his team mates, he’s just come off the back of Dublin’s third consecutive All Ireland Championship victory, and it’s the time of the year to attend victory celebrations, media presentations, all star awards ceremonies, team holidays, the list goes on. So how much does a successful athlete like Jonny indulge in the off season?
“You just kind of eat whatever you want.” he told the42.ie.
“That’s probably the first five or six weeks for me.”
“The first couple of weeks after the All-Ireland is just whatever’s coming up – be it a social event or a night out or family.”
Jonny admits his one favourite indulgence, and when he’s off season he doesn’t care how much he indulges.
“I love a pizza. And in fairness, when I’m not involved, I don’t mind doing it – I’ve no conscience about it. But when I am involved it wouldn’t even come into my thoughts.”
But it’s now the time of the year to focus on the upcoming season and put some things right again. The Dublin panel will travel to South Africa for their annual holiday at the end of the month, returning on January 7th. So it’s straight back on the horse so to speak.
Jonny, even now, is putting a little work in to keep the body close to the pace.
“I’m sure the guys do have the odd blow-out, they’re no different to me, but I’m sure they do keep one eye on what’s coming down the track. Christmas is going to be busy anyway for everyone, but straight away in January you’re going to be hitting it hard.”
“I’d say lads would be doing something, whether it’s just a gym session or spinning. I doubt if it’s something on the pitch but maybe some lads like to keep up some pitch work but I wouldn’t say so.”
Cooper also insists that Jim Gavin has never had to enforce a drinking ban because most players call it on themselves anyway, or know when it’s okay to partake.
“I don’t mind. I went a good number of months without it. And without too much hassle.”
“I think the way it works is no different to playing – if you’re out doing that, you probably have less of an opportunity in terms of maximising something on a training pitch for Jim to see.”
“It’s probably so competitive now that no one’s willing to give too much room for somebody else to nudge them out of the way for any reason. That’s probably one of the reasons.”