Conal Bonnar: Tipperary must use league to blood next generation

Conal Bonnar: Tipperary must use league to blood next generation

“If those U20s, U21s don’t make the team they could drift away and we could miss a whole generation of guys who were the best at their age and had All-Ireland glory.”
Conal Bonnar: Tipperary must use league to blood next generation
Conal Bonnar. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

 

Former Tipperary star Conal Bonnar hopes the county’s 2018 and ’19 All-Ireland U21 and U20 winners make up a significant proportion of the senior team during the forthcoming Allianz League.

 

 

Liam Sheedy’s side open their Division 1A campaign away to All-Ireland SHC and Division 1 champions Limerick on Saturday week, a team they have lost to in four of their five previous league and championship clashes.

 

 

Bonnar believes Tipperary supporters will be happy to have avoided Limerick in the Munster SHC draw. And with their semi-final against Clare or Waterford in mind, he would like to see Sheedy take an experimental approach to the league.

 

 

“I think we nearly know what they (Tipp’s experienced players) are going to do,” the Cashel King Cormacs man told Tipperary’s Mid West Community Radio in an interview to be broadcast this Saturday.

 

 

“They will obviously play two or three of those matches but we have had three very impressive U21 teams, a lot of good lads, I know Liam has brought a lot of them in and it will be good to see them in the league and give the older guys a break.

 

 

“Let’s see if we can find one or two backs, one or two forwards. The likes of Jake Morris, who made his own breakthrough last year, give him a pivotal role, play him in every league match.

 

 

“The older guys are the best generation of Tipperary hurlers I think since the 60s and probably ever. They have contributed enormously, they have three All-Ireland medals and they owe Tipperary nothing. And I think they will go out and perform really well for us again this year but equally we could do with finding more guys that in time take their place, compete with them now and we have a new generation.

 

 

Because if those U20s, U21s don’t make the team they could drift away and we could miss a whole generation of guys who were the best at their age and had All-Ireland glory.”

 

 

Two-time All-Ireland and All-Star winner Bonnar marvels at the level of commitment put in by players compared to his playing days but is worried about the extent of it.

 

 

“I definitely think we have gone over the top. I’m not sure whether they have the time for fun, whether they enjoy it.

 

 

“The time people must be putting into it to achieve that level of performance has to be triple, quadruple what we did in our day. We trained hard and I was coming from Dublin for a lot of it, a huge amount of time would go into that, and probably all of that travel didn’t help with injuries.”

 

 

Bonnar, 51, is currently recovering from a hip replacement having endured several injuries during his playing career.

 

 

“Coming straight into senior (club) from such a young age (was a reason). I was 16 and maybe eight stone and playing senior. You’re running into bigger lads and you’re still growing. It took me three or four years to get up to 13 and a half stone.

 

 

“I was struggling with a lot of injuries, hamstrings, lower back. I cracked a vertebrae in my lower back in the ’92 Fitzgibbon and had huge sciatica. I got ’97 out of having back surgery, maybe I should have had it earlier. I had huge groin injury troubles. The joints taking most of the hits from those collisions didn’t hold up well later.

 

 

“Players nowadays have much better strength and conditioning. I see some minors now and you’d love to be the size of those when I was a senior. We didn’t have that. Professional training was coming in. When Nicky (English) took over from 1999, the training had changed dramatically.

 

 

“We thought we were training really hard in ’89 with Phil Conway but it went to a completely new level by the time I was finished playing with Tipperary.”

 

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