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Drink in Sport: How has drinki...

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Drink in Sport: How has drinking culture evolved in modern football and GAA?

Cian Roche
Cian Roche

02:42 17 Apr 2019


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How prominent is drinking culture in modern sport?

With the development of sport science and the emphasis on recovery  in the era of 'marginal gains', there has been a shift in attitude toward alcohol consumption in athletes.

On Wednesday morning's OTB AM, Kieran Donaghy added to Lee Keegan's sentiments insisting there needs to be a balanced approach when it comes to athletes and alcohol.

"I think we mentioned it on Shot Clock about three weeks ago. It is a culture thing. It is slightly changing, that 'we'll go off the drink for three months so we can win this Championship' attitude.

"I think that's kind of gone because of the amount of effort players are putting into training everyday; whether it's a gym or a field session, a recovery day when you have to stretch or foam roll or get into the pool.

"It's everyday for a GAA player. If they can't go for a meal or have a glass of wine or have their few beers after a game, I agree with Lee on all those points."

He continued: "For me when I was at the end of my career, I started enjoying the journey of my career as in, enjoying all the small things.

"I think those few pints with your team-mates after a game should be something that you enjoy and go together to - have everyone be in the same boat.

"The culture is gone, these young guys aren't like the young guys we had when we came in in 2006. I was coming in learning off Dara O'Sé and the boys. If you won a Munster final, they mightn't see you until Wednesday.

"You were just getting in and out of bars.

"Whereas now these young athletes playing GAA at the highest level - I remember looking over at some of the younger guys on the Kerry team last year. It was 2am and all these guys were sober and talking away and nice and calm.

"I was thinking, 'Jesus when we were 18 or 19, if we had a few pints we'd be on the floor at this stage.'

"We saw it so rarely that it was a case that you'd go on the beer for three days then off it for two months. It's not healthy."

The former Kerry inter-county footballer also highlighted that the GAA could learn from the practices of other sports around the world.

"The Aussie Rules guys finish a game and come into the dressing room. There's 25 boxes of pizza there and a few crates of beer as well. They sit there and relax as a team.

"They have a bit of time together to talk about what went well or what they need to improve on for the next game. But they're getting the carbs in with the food and having their few beers as well.

"Sure they're not playing again til next week. Even when we're out, we may not have been out in six weeks so now we're out and we're at the bar and just drinking.

"That's to make the most of it and that's the wrong way to look at it. It should be nice and relaxed. Go for a good few quiet pints with your team-mates. But it isn't.

"It's that attitude of 'Right it's 10pm, we're just after getting back. I'm going straight on the Jameson because I'll be drinking 'til 2am and I won't get on it if I keep buying pints.'"

Alcohol in the Premier League 

Former Tottenham and Ireland defender Stephen Kelly also offered some insight into the drinking habits of players and teams in the last 15 years.

"When I first came into the squad at 18 or 19, there was a drinking culture there. As soon as the game was finished, me being the youngest player I was sent into the players lounge to come back onto the coach with a load of beers.

"All the senior players would be drinking - Les Ferdinand, Teddy Sherringham, Jamie Redknapp. They were down the back of the coach having a few beers on the way back to the training ground. That's the way it was.

"That's being completely changed. I was never much of a big drinker, that was just my preference. I never got into it, but the culture was there. As it's gone on, that side of the game has completely gone out of it. Only with the old school managers you'd see that happen.

"With Steve Bruce after we'd been promoted. We came into training next morning and the fitness coach came in with a lucozade box. He wheeled it in and Steve closed the changing room doors.

"He said: 'OK lads, are we ready for training?'

"He opened up the box and it was just full of beers. The same day, the Sky cameras were up at Sunderland who'd been promoted as well and they were out running on the pitch.

"Roy Keane was the manager at the time and Steve was like 'Look at these guys!'

"I always remember it being a really good time. Steve wanted us all together as a team to celebrate what our achievement was."

Drinking Culture in the GAA

Speaking to several sports outlets this week, Lee Keegan gave his take on drink culture within the GAA and the fact that some teams enforce drinking bans on their players.

"You sit in the pub even having a MiWadi and the heads are staring over at you; 'Why is he in here?'," explained the Mayo footballer.

"If you can't have a normal life like that, what's the point? I think it's just the culture within GAA.

"I always look at professional sports and particularly rugby, they have their few beers after their game and they train two days later and perform at the highest level the week after.

"That's the way the way the GAA should look at it as well."

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Drinking Culture Kerry Kieran Donaghy Kieran Donaghy's Shot Clock Lee Keegan Mayo Stephen Kelly

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