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"I was crying out for him to understand me" | Alan Quinlan on Declan Kidney

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

22:57 1 Apr 2020


Alan Quinlan has given a wonderful insight into the development of Declan Kidney as a coach and a man, saying that he 'got the best out of me'.

The conversation was in relation to Munster's run to the 2000 Heineken Cup final, which they lost against Northampton Saints, but attention turned to Kidney's evolution.

"I think he probably treated a lot of us at the start like school pupils," said Quinlan of Kidney, who had recently left pedagogy to go full-time into coaching.

"He got the job by default. I can't remember the Welsh coach that came into the job in 1997 and realised that most of the squad were only part time, guys were going to work and it was completely disjointed. He walked away after three days.

"Declan got the job then and by the start we were just like pupils. Discipline was massive.

"Getting to know players takes a certain amount of time for any coach in understanding them. Not just by 2008-2010, when he was coaching, but as the years went on, the relationships got better.

"He understood that not everybody had to train with the same intensity - other guys had to work on certain things.

"He had a great way of connecting with people and that was one of his biggest strengths; to be able to understand the player. At the start, he probably treated everybody the same and if they stepped out of line then they were in the bad books.

"As the years went on, when things were going wrong for somebody, he wanted to understand why and try to help the player, and understand how best to instil confidence and belief in him.

"I think that was his biggest skill and I don't think that he would mind me saying that; that he got to understand people."

This was a personal point for Quinlan, who believes that they mended their often-fraught relationship by speaking and listening to each other on a deeper level.

"He certainly got the best out of me for a couple of years. That was because I ended up having a chat with him at the end of that season about whether I am going to get a contract here, whether my attitude needs to change, to do things differently.

"[I was thinking] what do I want from the game, and all that stuff. I had my own inner demons that I had to battle with throughout my career. Woody could tell you about those, and he helped me a lot as well.

"But I remember having that conversation with Declan - and we had clashed a lot up until that point - but after that the relationship was totally different.

"I was crying out for him to understand me more, and to actually help me, rather than coming down on me like a tonne of bricks, if I stepped out of line.

"It made a massive difference, and when it came to 2001 I was starting for Ireland and playing well in every game I played.

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