Kilkenny adapting to new approach at training sessions
By Cian O'Connell
DJ Carey has spent a lifetime in hurling, but is quickly getting accustomed to the new normal.
Adamant about the merits a Championship can provide for GAA people throughout the world, Carey acknowledges a Kilkenny training session is an altogether different experience in 2020.
“From our point of view, we train in MW Hire Centre, which is our training centre," Carey explains.
"We don’t go to Nowlan Park to train because you can’t use dressing rooms. We have two big marquees that are left up either side of a little stand. "Half of them go into one and half of them go into another.
"The same players go into each every time they come to training. There are one way systems in and out. I know it sounds a little bit silly, but you come in one way and go out the other. Players are not supposed to come together in one car unless they’re from the same household.
"You go have your temperature checked. You come togged out, ready to go. All the hurls, bas, balls are sanitised before we start doing any sort of hurling."
Then the drills and session unfolds, but different methods continue to be adopted.
"We don’t huddle or come in to talk," Carey adds. "You talk from a certain distance to players and then once training is over the players take off their gear, it’s put into a big bin and that’s collected by a dry cleaners, taken away and back the following night.
"Players tog out into fresh gear, go home and have a shower. Their meal is delivered to them at training – they take that home or eat it there and then, either in their cars.
"If you need physio, that has to be booked in. it’s only the physio and a player can be in a room. As before, there could be five guys in a room waiting to jump up on the bed – none of that can happen.
"From a management point of view, we’re there with masks on. two, three, four metres apart, all the time.
"You’re trying to abide by it all the time. If anyone has a sniffle they don’t come to training, they contact Tadhg Crowley for any sort of fear they might have something. That’s it."
While it is a significant change, the Kilkenny panel and management follow the instructions of Dr Tadhg Crowley.
"I’d say it’s completely different," Carey replies. "In dressing rooms, the bit of craic is not there. Because there is very little close contact. But look, it is as it is. There might be other counties doing things slightly different to us.
"Tadhg Crowley, this is what he has asked us to do. From the Kilkenny County Board point of view, it’s a huge cost.
"If you’ve ambitions, putting two big marquees up is a huge cost. Now obviously it won’t be a huge cost if you’re beaten in the first round, but will be if you go on and be successful later on. So there are a lot of costs there."