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“I don’t see the value of it”- What is the benefit of a rugby performance coach in GAA?

Discussion on the benefits of a rugby performance in GAA, with Gordon Darcy and Donnacha O’Callaghan involved with Wexford and Waterford

Shane and Michael discuss is there any benefits of a rugby performance in GAA, with Gordon Darcy and Donnacha O’Callaghan involved with Wexford and Waterford.

Shane Stapleton and Michael Verney returned this week to a recurring topic that they have seen over recent years in the GAA: performance coaches from rugby.

Denis Leamy was part of the Tipperary backroom team that won the All-Ireland in 2016, Doug Howlett played a part in Cork previously, while Gordon Darcy and Donnacha O’Callaghan are currently involved with Wexford and Waterford.

That latter two counties are both in the midst of very poor seasons, and Stapleton again asked what tangible impact these rugby performance coaches have.

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“He’s an incredible guy,” John Meyler told us of the Doug Howlett impact with Cork.

“One of the most humble people I have met, and I spoke to him a lot about the All Black culture, the Maori culture, the New Zealand culture and their success in winning.

“The whole idea was to bring him in and look at that high performance aspect of winning and performing from the All Blacks.

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“His parents were in New Zealand and so were his wife’s parents and they were getting older,” Meyler explains of Howell returning home in the summer of 2019, which was also the end of the St Finbarr’s man’s two-year term at the Cork helm.

“He had kids that were on the verge of secondary school, so he decided to go. He rang me and said ‘I need to meet you’ and I knew by his voice that he was emotional.

“So we met at the Rochestown Park Hotel and had a cup of coffee. There was very little said in a way because the two of us are emotional guys and he just said, ‘I want to give you something, I have a jersey here for you’.

“On the arm of the jersey was ‘New Zealand v Samoa on June 16 2001’, and he pulls this jersey out of the bag and gives it to me.

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“I’ve a fascination with the All Blacks and their culture and the Maori culture, and I’ve been there and loved it.

“He gave me that and I was an emotional wreck. For a legend to give me one of his jerseys.

“I couldn’t wait to get home and I went Googling it, and there it was: Howlett was on the wing that day against Samoa in 2001. I treasure this jersey.”

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