Lukasz Kirszenstein is the strength and conditioning coach of the Galway hurlers. Last season he was involved with the Tipperary side that walked the steps of the Hogan.
He is one of the best S & C coaches in Irish sport and we ask, will his influence help Galway lift the Liam McCarthy trophy in September?
Galway have always been aa team as far as I can remember, a side who always produced skilful hurlers and were always a joy to watch. I remember Kevin Broderick soloing through the Kilkenny defence in the All-Ireland semi-final of 2001 to the many episodes of outrages skill from Joe Canning in recent years. While Galway have come so close especially in 2012, they have not won an All-Ireland title since 1988.
Its’ hard to point out why it’s been such a wait. In recent years the Kilkenny dominance has made it difficult for any side to make a breakthrough although the one side that Kilkenny found difficult to manage was Galway. In the aforementioned 2001 game against Kilkenny, Galway defeated the cats but then were defeated by Tipperary. Consistency has been an issue with Galway. They seem to be able to put in one big game but fail to keep it going into the next game. A problem which could be argued about the current All-Ireland champions Tipperary up until last year.
One of the key cogs in any backroom staff in modern GAA is the strength and conditioning coach. Tipperary in 2016 appointed Lukasz Kirszenstein, a Polish native who had previous experience working with the Irish woman’s rugby team, Munster rugby and with the U21 Limerick hurlers in 2012.
Prior to the All-Ireland final last year, Padraic Maher gave a ringing endorsement of Kirszenstein in an interview with the gaa.ie, “A lot of other years I have, working with the trainers, concentrated on lifting a lot of weights. While that has all been fine, we have changed our exercises where it is a lot more explosive which suits me a lot more. Some other lads might want to get bulkier but this suited me more to get more mobile on the field and I feel that I have been. It has helped my hurling too, again it comes with experience and year after year you are learning new things and it’s suiting at the moment so long may it continue. We work one on one with Lukasz and try new things and it’s kind of working at the moment and thank God I am staying injury free at the moment and that’s the main thing. The fitness levels are up as well for this time of the year especially, the boys are in good shape, and Lucasz has done great work with us all, again he is there to do things one on one which is great.”
Maher would go on to win his fourth all-star and more importantly another All-Ireland medal. Maher was always a physically gifted but he along with his Tipperary teammates, but in 2016 looked a lot leaner and pacier than in previous seasons.
In previous season’ Tipp could not live up to the power of Kilkenny but in 2016 the tables were turned as Tipp physically dominated Kilkenny, with their ability to break a tackle being a standout feature. The same can be said about the Galway hurlers. In the victory over Dublin the movement of the forwards, in particular, caused a lot of trouble to the Dublin defence. Joe Canning who covered a huge amount of ground and is in tremendous shape considering his career was almost ended last year with a hamstring injury.
What is Tipp’s loss is Galway’s gain? It is clear with the level of performances of the Galway hurlers and the great condition that they are in, the appointment of Kirszenstein maybe Micheál Donoghue most valuable inclusion to his backroom staff. When you consider how close Galway was to beating the eventual All-Ireland champions last year in the semi-final (a one-point defeat), the appointment of Kirszenstein may be the edge that Galway needs.