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"It's our flat All-Ireland" | Willie McCreery on Longines Champions Weekend

Enda Coll
Enda Coll

16:33 7 Sep 2021

Trainer Willie McCreery and former Tipperary hurling boss Liam Sheedy spoke to OTB Sports about their love for horses, GAA and what the two sports can learn from each other. 

Former Kildare footballer, turned horse trainer Willie McCreery said that the Longines Champions weekend is the All-Ireland for 'flat horses' and he aims to train his horses to peak for the event.

The Champions Weekend kicks-off this Saturday in Leopardstown, with the second day taking place at the Curragh, in Kildare.

And McCreery told Off The Ball that prepares his horses for it like he would prepare himself for an All-Ireland final.

"With the prize-money and the prestiges of the Longines this weekend, that is our flat All-Ireland", McCreery said.

"You have to try peak for that"

McCreery was part of the Kildare GAA side that were beaten by Galway in the 1998 All-Ireland final, and the trainer said that he has learned from the mistakes that team made and brought the lessons over to his approach to training horses.

"For Kildare, I think we peaked for our All-Ireland semi-final"

"We were playing Kerry in the semi-final and Mick Ó [Dwyer] thought Kerry were the team to beat so we peaked for that. Then we tried to get fitter than 100%, and I don't think you can get fitter than 100%"

"You can tweak things and you can remain at 100%, but you can't get any fitter than 100% and that was our downfall"

Former Tipperary hurling manager Liam Sheedy agreed with McCreery, admitting that some of Tipp's poorer displays of the past came when they overworked their players.

"Honestly, some of our worst performances we had, has been when we tried to push things a little too far", Sheedy said.

Sheedy also pointed out the issue of dealing with increased crowds as the competition moved forward, something McCreery agreed was also an issue in horse racing.

"You're spot on, especially in the last year with COVID-19, there has been nobody racing. So the two-year-olds for example, first time out, are going to an empty parade ring. There's no noise, it's lovely and quiet"

"Whereas Longines weekend or any weekend before that was busy. People talking, yapping, kids running around the place, horses get spooked. So you have to try to prepare them for that as well.

WATCH: Johnny Ward joins Willie McCreery and Liam Sheedy on McCreery's yard. 

World Rugby responds to ambitious new World 12s concept


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