Minor Hurling Team Of The Year Announcement: Michael Fennelly – The Irish Examiner – September 20 2018

Club player workload almost at county levels, claims Michael Fennelly

By Daire Walsh

Former Kilkenny midfielder Michael Fennelly believes the demands of club hurling are beginning to match that of the inter-county game.

In the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) report entitled “Playing Senior Inter-County Gaelic games: Realities and Consequences”, it was revealed that GAA stars are spending up to 31 hours per week on their senior inter-county commitments.

However, nine months on from bringing his glittering career with the Cats to a close, Fennelly still finds himself with an extensive workload.

“It follows inter-county. That’s the kind of sequence, the way it goes. That’s getting more serious and club gets more serious. It’s a hobby at the end of the day and we have to realise that. But at the same time, you’re there to put in work,” Fennelly remarked at the Minor Hurling Team of the Year announcement in Dublin yesterday.

Before, you’d three sessions a week maybe, which is grand, but now the gym is an important aspect of preventing injuries. Of getting stronger. People are asking me had I loads of time off since I left with Kilkenny? I was like ‘I’m training four, five nights a week still!’

“That doesn’t change, time didn’t change. You’re still putting in the same workload, you still have to mentally be preparing for your training sessions.”

In addition to accumulating an extraordinary haul of eight All-Ireland titles under Brian Cody, Fennelly has also claimed three national crowns with Ballyhale Shamrocks (2007, 2010, and 2015).

They remain in the hunt for county honours in 2018 as they face the newly-promoted Ballyragget in a senior championship quarter-final this Saturday. The fixture list continues to be a source of frustration for the LIT lecturer, though, who is in favour of condensing the club season into a six-month period.

“The fixtures are a major problem. I’m sick of talking about fixtures. I don’t think we’ll ever come to a fixture list where people are 100% happy. There will always be disagreement. The championship for the senior inter-county was super this year for supporters, absolutely brilliant.

And all the games were close as well because there is not much between most of them. But for the player, it’s a bit of disaster to be honest. I’d love to scale down the club season to maybe six months max and actually do it all then. Actually hit it hard. Then you have time off and you’re hungry to go again at it. Instead, it’s just dragged out.

While he stressed it isn’t a short-term objective, Fennelly has a stated ambition to eventually move into management.

“I’m eager to get into it. But I’m conscious of the fact I’m doing a PHD, lecturing and doing some leadership work with companies as well. So I’ve loads on, to be honest. We’ve a little nipper coming in January as well, so that’s going to cause problems,” Fennelly said.

“I’d love to get into it at some stage, as quick as possible, but I have to be smart with my time. I need to be in with a team, first of all. Maybe a club team and build up from there. To go straight in would be a huge task.”

Fennelly’s uncle Kevin, who preceded Brian Cody as Cats supremo, previously had a two-year stint as Dublin senior hurling manager — a position that is available once again in the wake of Pat Gilroy’s shock resignation.

The Sky Blues chief sighted a “considerable amount of overseas travel” as his principle reason for stepping away after just one season at the helm and Fennelly feels inter-county management now requires a full-time devotion.

“It is a serious role. The amount of hours that goes into that. I’d like to see a report on that, because it’s a lot more than 31 hours I’d say. A lot more pressure, a lot more stress.

“For me, it should be a full-time role and it should be a job actually in itself. Where you step away from nearly work or you’ve a part-time job or something. Because again, that’s the way it’s going.”

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