Former Waterford hurler Noel Connors talks about being dropped by manager Liam Cahill, the toughest player he ever marked, and why it’s all about winning.
BY SHANE STAPLETON
Noel Connors knows there’s more to hurling than medals, but there’s also a lot more to playing than what people see on game day.
A recent ESRI report showed that inter-county players plough an average of 31 hours per week in their sport, and that’s before you consider what is required mentally.
The Passage man collected three All Stars during his 11 seasons with the Deise, and was let go from the panel ahead of this current season by incoming manger Liam Cahill.
He knows all about playing at the top, and came closest to reaching the holy grail of an All-Ireland win in 2017.
Given the difficult and winless seasons endured in 2018 and 2019 under Derek McGrath and Paraic Fanning respectively, perhaps reaching the final just before that might have felt like a magical feeling.
Connors has a different view, however, having been involved in teams that made it to the final four of the competition on a couple of occasions, and were rarely that down the pecking order.
“You know what, we were there knocking on the door for a number of years, even some of them [the older players] before that with Davy (Fitzgerald),” Connors says.
“That’s not to sound arrogant but we were used to semi-finals and quarter-finals, so it was just an extra step to some of us.
“It was a large step to take but the expectation in Waterford is always to win an All-Ireland.
“It’s no different to people in Tipp, Kilkenny, Wexford, Clare, Wexford, Cork and so on — the expectation is to win.
“You take in a lot of information from the people around you and I love the Brick (Michael Walsh), he was my best friend on the panel for my 11 years.
“We would have roomed together, travelled together, and loads of bits. He said to me one day, ‘it’s all about winning’ and I said, ‘what do you mean?’.
“He said ‘it’s absolutely all about winning… you spend so much time and put so much commitment into it, that winning is the only game in town. If you’re not winning, it’s not worth it.’
“I sat back and said he’s 100% right. Because you’re gone out of the house seven days a week to play, and the only way is to get something out of it.
“I know you get a lot in friendships and all these things and all your contacts but, when you’re playing at that level, it’s all about winning.”
Click play on the video at the top of the page to see the full interview, including:
Thoughts on being dropped by Liam Cahill
Austin Gleeson’s body transformation
Calum Lyons and the injury to Conor Prunty
The best player he has marked
Former Waterford Minor hurler and Senior hurling captain, Noel Connors, pictured today at the launch of the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Championships. Electric Ireland is celebrating the seventh year of its landmark #GAAThisIsMajor campaign, with the return of the Player of the Week initiative and the Minor Star awards. The awards will announce the Electric Ireland GAA Minor Hurling and Football Teams of The Year as well as a special 2020 award to recognise the outstanding off the pitch contribution of one young Minor in the country who has gone above and beyond for their community during Covid-19.
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