Derek McGrath believes that when Austin Gleeson's mind and body are in the right place - as they seem to be right now - he is one of the "top three or four hurlers in the country".
Gleeson scored eight points in Mount Sion's 1-19 to 1-13 victory over Clonea in the Waterford SHC on Sunday. Three came from play, three from placed balls and two more from the sideline.
Earlier this month, Gleeson revealed that he had been neglecting his body during the Covid-19 lockdown. In a bid to extract himself from the hole he had dug, the 25-year-old began working with personal coach Ian Keohan.
Gleeson said it was "the best decision I’ve made for myself in a long long time!" Over eight weeks, his body was transformed as he lost nine kilograms.
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?⚪AUSTIN GLEESON?⚪ _____________________ "They say when talent meets hard work, it creates an unstoppable force" _____________________ Waterfords Austin Gleeson, crowned Hurler of The Year and Young Hurler of The Year in 2016. He is one of Waterfords most lethal weapons on the hurling field and easily one of the countries best ever hurlers to date. It's a sure thing this kid has talent, but now he has it all. Lighter on his feet, added muscle, extreme condition and most importantly, the MINDSET. He is now more focused then ever, eager for challenge and hungry to compete. Having the right mindset and attitude will determine your success in any given goal and I've watched Austins mindset grow stronger, and stronger each and every week, every week becoming more determined. ________________________ Austin came to me originally with a goal of losing weight and getting in shape. He was very clear with me from the begining that he wanted to get the most from this. Muscle, size, condition, everything. He wanted to achieve the best version of himself that he possibly could. 8 weeks ago he started at 96kg and worked his way right down to 87kg. He made a significant decrease in overall body fat and even built some muscle along the way. #missioncomplete Austin was extremely easy to work with over the last few weeks, give him a task and he will complete. He knew from the start that this would require for him to be pushed weekly but he welcomed the challenge. I leaned on him every week and asked for just that little bit more. Every week grew tougher in effort but every week he did too, he managed to impress me and deliver the results each and every week with zero setbacks. ______________________ Head up, eyes on the prize, zero hesitation and move forward as an unstoppable force???
"He looks in great shape, first and foremost," McGrath, who was Waterford manager when Gleeson was named Hurler and Young Hurler of the Year in 2016, told the Irish Examiner's GAA podcast.
"Everyone has seen how great a shape he is in. And sometimes it’s hard to follow that up, when you expose yourself in that manner.
"He looks to be in a great place mentally and physically. He followed it up with a great performance from the middle of the field; sitting back in the first half he got a couple of monstrous scores. Look, he was all over the field.
"When he’s like that, let’s be honest, he’s up there with the top three or four hurlers in the country, when he’s like that physically and mentally.
"It’s great both for Waterford and Mount Sion to see him like that. Please God it will continue into the autumn."
After winning those accolades in 2016, Gleeson's performances did not hit the same heights. That was partially due to his own complacency about his fitness.
In November, Gleeson told Balls that "he wasn't a happy person the last two years. I was doing things for other people instead of doing them for myself".
After spending two months in New York last summer following Waterford's elimination from the championship, Gleeson said "I came back a totally different person, getting away from all that negative vibes around".
His motivation had returned, boosted by the realisation that he was about to hit his mid-20s and the chances to win an All-Ireland with Waterford were dwindling.
It seems that motivation took a dip during the lockdown but has returned even stronger.