In full flight, he was one of the best footballers in Kildare but injury curtailed MORGAN O’SULLIVAN’S football career. Now the Sarsfields star has discovered a new sporting passion.
AN UNLIKELY FOOTBALL CAREER
I didn’t play underage. I came back a Junior C player in 2002 and progressed onto the seniors in 2003 and onto the county team in 2004. Padraig Nolan was the manager for the two years I was with Kildare. I left mid-season in 2005, just before the Westmeath game in the championship, went back to the club, got to a Leinster final with Sarsfields. After that, coming up to Christmas, John Crofton rang and I was thinking of going back for 2006 but then I did my cruciate in January so that was me out for a year after that.
I did the cruciate again two years ago. I was only back for the club championship last year and I was kind of struggling. The lads got fit under John Crofton and I was struggling a little bit. I decided to leave it and I found The Performance and Fitness Academy then.
SWAPPING GAA FOR THE GYM
I know a few friends who know Niall Munnelly (who runs the Performance and Fitness Academy) and I heard he was opening up a new gym and that it was really good. I tried going to the gym on my own and that never really worked for me. I can’t train on my own, I can’t motivate myself for that whatsoever. I think it was three months since I had stopped playing GAA altogether. I wanted to do something and I wanted it to be in a class format.
It’s exactly like playing with a team. It’s really strange. I can understand how people who have played sport before can come here and fit but I’d say even people who haven’t played sport there fit in. It’s a bond, it’s a group thing. There is nothing singular about it. You work on your own and you work hard but lads will stand around and cheer you on. It’s not like a conventional gym at all and I think that’s why I am enjoying it so much. It’s as good as if not a better spirit in here than I have seen in dressing rooms. You are not specifically tied down to one skill. The pressures that come with other sports aren’t there, the highs and lows. I just find that I am on a permanent high in here. There is no downside to it at all. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
The workouts here are always different. You could find that you are in the top two or three on one workout but the next day is something that you struggle on so you have to go off and get better on that yourself. The only thing that I find my football helped with is the stamina end of things. That’s the only benefit I find. Fitness-wise and looks-wise I don’t think I’ve ever been in as good a shape. I might have been able to run but I didn’t feel that it benefitted me in everyday life like this.
MY TRAINING PAST
The weights were probably only coming into football when I was with Kildare. You had your personal trainers and dieticians but there was a lot of runs. You’re talking ten 300 metres, ten 200 metres, ten 100 metres after a full training session. It was heavy going. Weights programmes were done for yourself and then in the off-season you were given a sheet to follow. Lads who knew each other and knew gyms would go together. The gym never really appealed to me unless it was a team session. I could not motivate myself to go for a jog, to go for a run, even the poor dog in our house rarely gets out for a walk. The gym wasn’t the be all and end all back then, I think it is more so now. I think the game itself is evolving in bad way in terms of the way that skills are being developed.
I know lads in an off-season with GAA would get a weights programme but if a lad said that he wasn’t doing a weights programme and came down here, the shape it gets you in, it would be a great move. There are certain exercises that we do here that I’ve never done and I don’t know how we never did them going by the benefits I see after coming here. Stuff like box jumps, lunges, pull-ups, doing burpees non-stop. There are all levels here, you can come in and lift no weight and just work on technique but you’ll fit in.
I think footballers at the highest level today might be different to my day. I think they would probably be able for this type of training. You only have to look at them to see how much work they do away from the football pitch. Club footballers might be different, I think you’d be fit enough to play club football just from the work we do in here.
Now, I hate running. I used to stop and slow down to a walk but when I came in here to the gym and saw the effects it was having on me, I went for a run in the Curragh. I did 46 minutes and I wasn’t out of breath. I started the car without even feeling like I had gone for a run. It was amazing so now I’m thinking of doing Run Kildare.
A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE
People in here have said to me that they have had huge benefits when they have gone back training so I’ve kind of had the feeling that I am wasting the fitness I’ve developed. I was contemplating going back to football but then I’d have to give up all this. I don’t think I could do that, I don’t think I could give up this feeling. To go back to football and be thinking can I get a game, to sprint hard, to maybe get injured – I thought about giving it one more year because the knee is much stronger and there is no pain but I wouldn’t leave here.
Because I took so many years off with injury I still have a nice appetite. Some people in here have amazing stories. There are other people in here who I know for a fact that this is changing their life, their outlook on life, how they go about their day, how they spend their weekend. It can effect everything. I probably would have listened to somebody saying this a couple of years ago and though: ‘what are they talking about? It’s only a gym, it’s only a workout’ but it’s not. It is life-changing stuff and that is why I would never leave here. If I had my time back I would definitely do this type of training alongside the football.