Pre-Match Pasta And Chicken? Not For Waterford's Stephen O'Keeffe

Pre-Match Pasta And Chicken? Not For Waterford's Stephen O'Keeffe

Professionals in all but one sense of the word, elite players within the GAA tend to behave accordingly. What it takes to "play county" relies on more than talent alone, and deviating from the line can be detrimental - just ask Cathal Barrett.

Under Derek McGrath, Waterford's hurlers have been an epitome of such dedication; their masterfully honed sweeper-system is as effective as it is inflammatory.

Yet, speaking to the Irish Times, McGrath revealed certain idiosyncrasies that are tolerated. Goalkeepers of any code tend to be a strange bunch, and the Deise's Stephen O'Keeffe is no exception.

When managing De La Salle College's hurlers, McGrath introduced the then unknown concept of pre-game pasta and chicken. O'Keeffe was not so receptive to McGrath's attempts at modernisation.


Stephen would just have a bowl of chips. Loads of salt and vinegar all over them. We decided that whatever made him happy, that’s what we’d go with. We were thinking about servicing players’ individual needs and if he felt he needed a bowl of chips, fair enough, so be it. It went against all nutritional advice and everything else. But you weigh these things up and we basically felt that whatever would suit an individual player’s needs, we would try to facilitate.

It is a habit that O'Keeffe has carried with him into the Waterford senior panel. With O'Keeffe and Waterford approaching yet another All-Ireland semi-final this Sunday, who knows, if the Deise were to win their first All-Ireland in fifty-eight years, maybe a few more GAA stars will resist the encroaching expectations of professionalism also.

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Arthur James O'Dea

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