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'I Was A Full-Time Athlete' - Declan O'Sullivan's 2006 All-Ireland Endeavours Went To Another Level

'I Was A Full-Time Athlete' - Declan O'Sullivan's 2006 All-Ireland Endeavours Went To Another Level

Kerry had to go through the backdoor in 2006 after losing the Munster final in a replay to Cork.

It was Declan O'Sullivan's second consecutive year as Kerry captain. The previous campaign ended in All-Ireland final defeat to Tyrone.

Speaking on TG4's Laochra Gael programme, which airs this Sunday at 5.55pm, O'Sullivan related the dejection which he felt after the loss to Cork.

For me there was still a big hangover from 2005. I just knew I was in a rut and you are trying hard to get out of it and you know, it's just not happening and you are getting frustrated. It's kind of a snowball effect.

It wasn't just defeat which negatively affected the five-time All-Ireland winner. It was also the reaction of Kerry fans after Cork's victory at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

I suppose it wasn't until I got to the stand and into the dug out that I realised this is after happening here [beeing booed by Kerry supporters] and it hit me hard.

I think time really showed me to appreciate my friends and my family. They were really good to me, and even the older fellas. I remember Seamus Moynihan grabbing a hold of me that night and saying, 'Declan, you are plenty good enough, just drive through it.' And I knew at the time myself if I could get through it mentally it would really stand to me.

To be honest I've used it as an advantage since, and I've really forgotten about it and moved on from that long ago.

O'Sullivan lost his place in the Kerry team after the Munster final replay. He knew something had to give - and it did.

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He quit his job as a rep with Powerade to concentrate full-time on gaelic football.

I gave up my job and I really said to myself after the disappointment in 2005, this was really my last chance as captain.

I trained like a dog those summer months after the Munster final. I was a full-time athlete. I'd get up in the morning. I'd eat well. I'd go for a nap in the middle of the day.

I have no doubt in my mind that if I didn't make that decision to step away from work at the time there 's no way I would have been able to get myself right to get on the team.

The decision paid off for the Dromid Pearses player. He regained his place in the Kerry team and would go on to walk the steps of the Hogan Stand to lift Sam Maguire later that summer. He also scored 1-2 in that All-Ireland final victory over Mayo.

Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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PJ Browne
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