‘The three or four pints always gave you a good night’s sleep’ – Offaly hero’s unique pre-match routine

LAOCHRA GAEL FANS are in for another treat this week as Offaly’s double All-Ireland-winning hero Johnny Pilkington steps into the spotlight.

Now the father of three children, the Birr legend talks about how he has veered into coaching at underage level since retiring from hurling, and how he enjoys helping young camogie and hurling players develop their talents.

His fondness for socialising also comes up during the episode, as well as incidents that showcase his humorous side.

But Pilkington’s character was far more complex than that and he battled with nerves as a player.

“I always went for the couple of pints in the local,” he begins.

“I wasn’t going to be one of these lads to go off to some discreet pub somewhere. What it did, and what it helped me to do, was it helped to take that nervousness and butterflies.

“The three or four pints always gave you that good night’s sleep.”

He adds: “It all kind of comes back to how you perform on the day, regardless of what you do. So, I think my performances, in a lot of situations, we won which means your scrutiny isn’t as deep as it would [be]. And then the days that we lost, I kind of played well enough to avoid the scrutiny of what went on prior to that.”

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His Offaly team-mate and fellow All-Ireland winner Michael Duignan says the team accepted Pilkington’s unique pre-match routine, such was his status within the group.

“I genuinely believe he did it for himself to motivate himself. He wanted people to see [that] ‘I’ll train, I’ll play, I’ll do it my way, I’m a maverick. But now I’ll go out on the field and I’ll perform.’ It nearly drove him on.

“We never passed any remarks. I’d say if he wasn’t performing, if he wasn’t the player he was and the type of leader he was, it wold have been an issue obviously in the squad. But it was never an issue with Johnny.”

Johnny Pilkington’s Laochra Gael will be shown this Thursday on TG4 at 9.30pm.

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