The strongest players in hurling was the topic of discussion with Tommy Walsh on Thursday’s OTB AM.
While Walsh’s top five strongest hurlers largely consisted of past players he noted the extraordinary contrast in conditioning between the young players of his era and the heavily bulked current crop of teenagers emerging in the sport.
“There's such a difference”, Walsh exclaimed.
“If you go back to a young fella say an 18, 19, 20-year-old lad only starting in the 90s early 2000s they were only a sliver of guys. They were really skinny they were really fast and fit but they were so skinny. They didn't have an ounce of muscle anywhere."
Walsh explained that at a recent U17s game he was amazed by the size and strength of the players.
“They are like 23 or 24-year-olds. The way the game has gone you have got to be ready for that. Imagine coming in now having done no weights you'd be blown out of it.”
“I remember in my own club as a 16-year-old, helping out with numbers, coming across Bill Hennessy, it was like I described with Brian Hogan earlier, it was like hitting JCBs.”
Nowadays, there is not as large a gulf in physicality between the senior and junior players in a panel. That, Walsh highlighted, can make it more difficult for older players to maintain their influence as the years progress.
However, Padraic Maher, who earlier in the week Michael Verney described as the strongest man in hurling, is one player that Walsh says has no problem dealing with the new breed of young hurlers.
“It’s just amazing for a guy to be able to stick to the level he's at playing centre-back and now he's in a different era coming up against guys who've been in the gym since they were 15, 16-years-old and still we are saying he is one of the strongest guys out there.
“To be fair he is one of the strongest men no point in saying otherwise about it. His ability to do it since 2009, when I first came across him he was 19-year-old so that's nearly 11 years on the run.”
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