The View: Former Tipperary hurler Kieran Bergin – whistleblower or whinger?

Noel Dundon


Noel Dundon


Midfield battle: Tipperarys Kieran Bergin in a tangle with Clares Patrick Donnellan in Sundays National Hurling League Division One semi-final clash at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick.

Kieran Bergin in action for Tipp - the Killeanule man lifted the lid of the level of commitment required to be an inter county player.

The Killenaule man had a lot to say about the level of commitment required to be an inter county hurler, but there are a hundred lads out there trying to break down the door to go in.

The comments of former Tipperary senior hurler and footballer Kieran Bergin have prompted a lot of debate and reflection in the last week on the subject of workload on inter county players. That this is being talked of in the first place, has to be a positive thing.

The Killenaule man, who left the senior hurling panel midway through last season, and linked up with the footballers a week later, had a fair old rant about the demands being put on players and the kind of commitment expected of them. For instance, he spoke about the 'drink ban' and how inter county players are supposed to abstain from alcohol during the season. Bergin also spoke about the dietary requirements of players and how the demands of getting into the right shape and staying fit, are huge.
There is nothing new in all of this and frankly there is nothing shocking about it all, despite the headlines Kierans comments garnered – perhaps it was because he was bemoaning, in a very forthright and honest manner – the kind of commitment required, which really made people take notice.

Tipperary's former dual star - Kieran Bergin.

For most senior club hurlers, alcohol is more or less an avoided substance during the season. The affects of alcohol consumption are simply too weighty and too much ground would have to be made up, for most to even contemplate drinking. We're not talking about a socialable drink here – we're talking about drinking to an unacceptable level for athletes.
When you multiply the kind of work which must be undertaken by county players and the lengths they are going to, to gain an edge, surely it has to be a given that alcohol is off the menu. It's just not worth it. Imposing drink bans should not be necessary, because players training in the kind of elite envoironment created in the inter county camp, should know that it is simply not on.
It must be frustrating for players on the fringes of panels to work as hard as those getting games, but to see limited game-time. The reality is that those fringe players must work even harder if they are to dislodge the regulars. And yes, the effort required is enormous and the workload huge.
But- and no player should ever forget this – there are a hundred others out there breaking down the door trying to get into the squad. And, they would glady adhere to all the requirements and regulations laid down by management.
Players in inter county teams work harder than professionals, but the vast majority of them also enjoy what they do – you can see that any time you visit their training sessions. Granted, the slogging associated with this time of the year is not pleasant, but no squad member has a gun to their head forcing them to play for Tipp. If they want out, they can walk. How many players have voluntarily walked over the last ten years? Even those who retire nowadays generally do so in consultation with management – few leave the inter county panel on their own terms.
So, Kieran Bergin – whistleblower or whinger? Make up your own mind on that.
Few Tipperary supporters would be surprised by his comments in relation to the commitment. Many would be surprised though at his view of it being almost a chore.