John Kavanagh discussed his relationship with GAA legend Kieran McGeeney, recalling how he attended his first-ever game with the Armagh manager.
The pair have trained together for 10 years. McGeeney asked Kavanagh for a private lesson a decade ago and has never looked back.
The Armagh man is BJJ brown-belt and has cornered SBG fighters. While Kavanagh sparked a love of the game in McGeeney, the famed MMA coach revealed that McGeeney reciprocated that spark by getting him into Gaelic games.
The SBG head coach was a guest on The Hop Ball podcast. When asked about McGeeney, he outlined how met Geezer.
“It definitely came from Kieran, to begin with (beginning to look at GAA from a training perspective). I got very lucky that I met him around about 10 years ago.
“It was around the same time that a bunch of fighters that I had, Conor (McGregor) is an obvious one that he was just getting to a very high national level. We were kind of on the brink of starting to go to a European and a world level. I met Kieran and I had no background in sports science or coaching at any high level.
“I was able to lean on him a lot about structure in training and his mindset. It’s always funny when I meet a GAA guy. I mention that I know Kieran they all have a bit of hushed reverence for him.”
Kavanagh recalled how on McGeeney’s first trip to SBG, he had no clue who he was. However he soon found out.
“My first meeting with him is he booked a private lesson with me and I had no idea who it was and a few guys were elbowing me and were like ‘You know who that is that you’re going to train with and I didn’t.
“Well, I knew by the end of that hour, trust me on that. I usually have a drill that I do with people that by the end makes people tiresome quite quickly if they’re not used to it.
“Even if they’re fit in other areas it is a wrestling drill that I know how to cheat on and other people don’t if they don’t know how to do it so they’re usually very inefficient at it and you’ll blow a gasket in five minutes or six minutes. I did it with him for just under 40 minutes and ‘I said okay. I’m done’.
“We very quickly started training, I’ve basically trained him pretty much every day from that day on for the last decade and I’ve got a huge amount out of him.”
It’s common knowledge that Kavanagh has since become a big fan of his native Dublin. The SBG man has attended each of the All-Ireland finals en route to five-in-a-row.
However his first live GAA game wasn’t a Dublin match.
Kavanagh recalled attending a game with McGeeney, as his own star was beginning to rise. It was then that he realised how revered the 2002 All-Ireland winning captain was in GAA circles.
“It’s funny because my first time going to a big game. Not my first Dublin game. I went with Kieran and at that time, we were kind of getting known around Dublin. Conor had won a few national titles, a few guys were beginning to do well. The odd person would stop me.
“And then I went to a big game with Kieran McGeeney and I got to see what it looks like to be around an actual famous person. People were dropping onto one knee and tipping the hat. I was like, ‘Oh my god, this skin is huge here!'”
Kavanagh made an interesting comparison claiming Dublin and their fans were like NFL franchise New England Patriots.
“I’ve been very interested in watching the Dublin team when I was getting into the game and I always kind of found it funny. There is one other sports team the (New England) Patriots, that the real fans you’d be down at the halfway mark and they’d all go ‘we always do that, we’ll get them in the second half’ and sure enough, it seems to always happen.