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Kevin McManamon Reveals How He Overcame 'Crippling Anxiety' Before Big Games

Kevin McManamon Reveals How He Overcame 'Crippling Anxiety' Before Big Games

In 2011, Kevin McManamon guaranteed himself a precious place in the annals of Dublin GAA history when he scored the crucial goal that set off the Dublin comeback to defeat Kerry in the All-Ireland final and win the Dubs their first title since 1995. The image of McManamon stepping past Declan O'Sullivan, sliding the ball into the net and then sprinting back up the pitch, urging his team-mates on, is one of the enduring ones from that final.

One would think that at this stage McManamon would have been flying mentally, his confidence through the roof. Not so, according to the St Jude's man. He was speaking to Alan O'Mara for O'Mara's Real Talks podcast, and the two covered everything from Damien Dempsey to McManamon's admiration of Roy Keane - it's well worth a full listen.

But one of the most interesting pieces of discussion was when McManamon was outlining at what point his confidence actually picked up. And it was after he'd already won Sam Maguire.

It was 2012 when I had the All-Ireland in the pocket and I was starting and playing in the Leinster Championship games and still getting nerves, this crippling anxiety.

We (himself and sports psychologist Caroline Currid) had a great chat, a long chat one day out in a hotel in Maynooth...she got to the root of what my problem was and it would have been very difficult to see, because I would've cloaked it very well.

No confidence in my football. I was a confident person in terms of my personal life and my social life, going out and doing things but for some reason I would talk myself down a lot when I played football. I would discount my good performances.

I remember I had two man-of-the-matches in Leinster in 2012 and rather than (saying to myself) 'You were good today, fair play to you' it was more 'Ah sure, you weren't marking a great fella because they were all double marking Berno (Bernard Brogan) or (Diarmuid) Connolly...or 'That was a fluke, you just put the foot through that'...

It was nearly a lightbulb moment for me: 'Jaysus, I need to work on my confidence.' My self-talk was completely upside down...I was giving 10% positive and 90% being hard on myself.

I thought it was motivating me - if I'm hard on myself, I'll train harder, kick a hundred balls...we all know what we need to improve on, but actually (I instead started) giving myself some credit.

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Five years later, he's got another three All-Ireland titles to add to his collection.

You can find the full and intriguing chat on realtalks.ie.

SEE ALSO: Big Boost For Club GAA As Coverage Is Set To Increase Dramatically

Conall Cahill

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