“It was a brilliant environment to be in” | Gavin O’Mahony reflects on the 2013 Munster win & the shift in attitude within Limerick hurling

As the twilight of his intercounty career approached, the shift in attitude was beginning to take shape as he recalls Donal O’Grady going the extra mile.

Former Limerick Senior hurler Gavin O’Mahony has highlighted the difference in standards from the beginning of his intercounty career to the end, and the stark contrast with the players of today.

Speaking on Treaty Talk Podcast, the Kilmallock man revealed what the setup was like, but insists he has “no regrets” from his intercounty career which came to an end in 2017, a year prior to Limerick’s breakthrough.

The Limerick players of today are machine like, equipped with dieticians, gym plans and tailored training regimes. It is the main reason we have seen the standard of the GAA rise so much in recent years with the current Limerick side the undisputed standard bearers.

O’Mahony revealed that there was no gym work at the start of his career, instead the Tuesday, Thursday and match at the weekend was the staple.

“The difference when I came in and when I finished the difference training wise, as regards professionalism it was gone through the roof.

“We had no gym work when we started, after a couple of years it started to come in but it was very basic but it was token stuff, maybe at the start of the season.

“But I enjoyed being with the group, there was great leaders. What I only really appreciate now is the training. The training at the time was a chore. You could play a championship match and you wouldn’t be out again for a five weeks so you knew you were getting a dogging at training the following Tuesday. A lot of those spells of training were torture.

“Unfortunately, in my time I can only start to appreciate it now as I can see the end line coming with Kilmallock.”

Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Final, Gaelic Grounds, Limerick 14/7/2013 Cork vs Limerick Limerick’s Gavin O’Mahony is carried from the field by fans Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

However, as the twilights of his career approached, the shift in attitude was beginning to take shape as he recalls then captain Donal O’Grady going the extra mile in terms of nutrition.

“The professionalism at that stage had gone through the roof, the lads wouldn’t eat a biscuit. There was just absolute dedication to the cause. That’s extremely enjoyable to be part of.

“Those couple of years really went up a notch. If you were seen having a biscuit with a coffee, the lads would be pulling you aside. I remember Donal O’Grady telling lads to take some of the butter off of the sandwiches that we got after training or before a match, to wise up!”

Nowadays, with proper recovery and training plans, we are probably seeing less injuries to players, even with the intensive schedule.

O’Mahony spoke of his envy at the Munster Round Robin format, and the regularity of the games, which allows for a more focused effort in training during the summer months.

Nonetheless, the Kilmallock man has fond memories of the provincial championship, playing a part in Limerick’s iconic 2013 triumph under John Allen, who he credits as the driving force behind change in Limerick hurling.

Having been captain for the minors loss in the All-Ireland final in 2005, two years prior to the seniors loss to Kilkenny in the same stage, O’Mahony holds cherished memories of the 2013 season where Limerick ended a 17-year wait for Munster honours.

“I was around in 2007 (All-Ireland final) to see the scenes of that.

“We had a brilliant group, to be fair to John Allen, he was the shift there with Limerick, he really tied the group together, got fellas to commit, it was a brilliant environment to be in (2013).

“We trained incredibly hard, there was no planning for what happened after the final whistle, nobody had experienced it, when I look back I have no regrets. That was definitely one of the good days.”

O’Mahony played 36 times for Limerick over a ten year period, scoring 0-21, and winning the 2013 Munster title. Three times he was part of Limerick senior sides beaten in the All-Ireland semi-finals, bringing his inter county career to a close at the end of 2017.

However, he has continued to flourish with Kilmallock, winning a fourth SHC title in 2021, adding to his 2014 Munster club title win.

His career alone shows the change in the game of hurling since first bursting onto the scene as a minor as attention for O’Mahony and co slowly shifts to the SHC kick off next month.

First up is the small matter of an All-Ireland semi-final this weekend where he will be cheering on plenty of former teammates in Croke Park.

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