DUBLIN PLAYER CIARAN Kilkenny believes the fitness levels of GAA players rank high despite former Irish athlete Jerry Kiernan’s recent criticism of the physical capabilities of the county’s Gaelic footballers and hurlers.
Kilkenny is well placed to offer a judgement after his recent stint in professional sport in Australian Rules with the Melbourne-based club Hawthorn.
In January the Castleknock youngster opted to return to Ireland to resume his GAA career.
Kiernan’s controversial comments on Newstalk recently prompted a heated reaction from inter-county players after the 1984 Olympian criticised the GAA players grants scheme.
When asked yesterday in Croke Park for his views on the fitness levels of players in the wake of Kiernan’s remarks, Kilkenny was praiseworthy of his colleagues around the country.
“I think GAA players are up their fitness-wise because we have a very high endurance base. At the same time you’re getting hit from every different angle so various different parts of your body are being worked.
“I think the GAA is just as professional as Australia because you could be training four or five times a week. You could have two games in that week as well so we’re up there at the very top I think.”
Kilkenny returned to training last night with Jim Gavin’s Dublin senior side and is in line to feature in next Saturday’s Division 1 league game against Mayo after impressing greatly for the county U21 side last week.
He confessed he is satisfied with his decision to return to Ireland but revealed that he was confident that he could have forged a career in the AFL and coped with the physical demands of the sport.
“I thought I would have had a good chance of making it because I was doing pretty well at all the endurance aspects. I would be in the top group fitness-wise over there so I thought I would have had a good chance
“At the end of the day I weighed up would I rather win All-Irelands in football and hurling and titles with my club and college and all these other aspects or win the Grand Final. a
And I was raised to win All-Irelands. That was embedded in me, the whole tradition of my Dad playing and my cousins and everything. At the end of the day I’m proud about our history and our culture and I’d rather win All-Irelands than win Grand Finals.”