Busy days aren't an excuse for Ireland's best GAA Club.
Aaron is one of five Branagan brothers who play Gaelic football for the 2021 All Ireland winners Kilcoo. For those that don’t know, Kilcoo is a small village at the foot of the Mourne Mountains in Co. Down in Ireland with a tight-knit population of approximately 900 people. So tight-knit in fact that all 44 players in the current squad, including Aaron and his brothers, all went to the same primary school. However, don’t be fooled by the small numbers, Kilcoo is a centre of sporting excellence of which Aaron is right at the core. We caught up with Aaron to find out more about how he balances working full time alongside his training commitments and how he gets the most out of himself each year for the All Ireland Championship.
‘It’s the 22hrs away from the field that make the difference’
The Physical Demands
For those who aren’t familiar with Gaelic football, there are a few things that you need to know. Played over 70 minutes on a pitch almost 1.5 times that of a traditional football (soccer) pitch. It is a fast-paced and physically intense game. Players typically cover in excess of 9km in a game and regularly exceed 1,000m of high-speed running. To put that into perspective these numbers are significantly higher than in international rugby union where players cover around 5-7km and around 500m at high speed. Strictly speaking, it is a non-contact sport, but you wouldn’t know that from watching the games, there are some big knocks meaning players need to be physically strong as well as fit. Preparing for this sport can be a full-time commitment which can be tough to fit into regular life, especially as Gaelic football is a completely amateur sport. Like the rest of Kilcoo’s squad, Aaron will complete 3 field-based team sessions a week, 3-4 gym workouts, and a mandatory 7 am Sunday mobility circuit with the squad alongside any “homework” he is prescribed such as additional individual skills work.
Given this, any investment of time and resources has to be worthwhile, particularly when the margins are so fine and winning and losing often comes down to the ability to make one final sprint or be that person who wins the break or gets that final score, take Kilcoo’s winning final where they came back from being a point down to win with one of the final kicks of the game deep into extra time. These strains and stresses of juggling life and training is something most of us can resonate with. So where has Aaron got ahead? Well in his own words
“Everyone is training and putting in the hours on pitch. It’s the 22hrs away from the field that make the difference. I try make sure I’m eating the right foods, at the right time in the right amounts and getting enough sleep”.
Aaron describes how the team would Carb Code by “periodising their nutrition and fuelling for the work required” to give them an edge and maximise how their bodies were responding and adapt to training because they knew when it comes down to big games the small details would make the difference. So much so that during the preseason the squad introduced strategic “train low” workouts using Carb Coding to improve their aerobic adaptations to their Monday night sessions.
How can you get the edge like Aaron?
Hexis now provides athletes of all levels the opportunity to take command of their energy just like Aaron. Whether you’re juggling work, family and sport and need help removing the guesswork and fuelling for the demands of training or if you’re another GAA athlete, club or county, looking for an edge in the run-up to this year’s Championship, Hexis has you covered.
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