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04th Dec 2021

“Up the carbs, lower the proteins” – Sean O’Brien and Alex Goode on rugby’s best pre-match meals

Patrick McCarry

“There was a story where a lad was supposed to have had 10 pints of Guinness before an All-Ireland Final!”

Sean O’Brien was happy to see Tyson Fury’s ‘two pints before my fight’ story and raise it with a tale of the Offaly hurlers.

Fury claimed in a chat with JOE’s Alex Roberts that he had a couple of pints before his first win over Deontay Wilder. ”

“I’ve got that old school mentality,” he explained. “Before Wilder 1, I went downstairs and had two pints because I felt like it. Didn’t do me any harm did it?”

On the latest House of Rugby episode [LISTEN from 1:30 below] O’Brien and co-host Alex Goode spoke about pre-match meals, drinks and how the hurlers from Offaly used to do it.

Sean O’Brien pictured at a Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup match between Naas and Tullow in 2018. (Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile)

O’Brien and Goode on pre-match meals

Both Goode and O’Brien then shared their own pre-match routines and meal preferences.

“My game day is pretty boring,” O’Brien admitted. “It’s the day before where I’m carb loading.

“It’d be getting the right amount of carbohydrates in so the batteries are fully charged for the next day. That’s a lot of food – four to six meals. Bananas, blueberries, smoothies, rice, yoghurts. Up the carbs, lower the proteins.

“The morning of, I’d usually get up at 8 or 8:30am on match days, no matter the kick-off time. I’d have overnight oats or porridge, then poached eggs, maybe a bit of bacon and one slice of toast. That’s really me until pre-match. I usually have a bowl of rice pudding. I try to get the day before 100% so I don’t need that much food on the day of a game. I like to feel light and lean.”

For Goode, he starts his day around 9am with some gluten-free oats, with blueberries or banana. He also goes for gluten-free pasta as his pre-match meal.

“I’m not gluten-free, normally, but sometimes when you have loads of carbs, I find, you be be quite windy,” he said. “Less gluten means no wind, and I feel much more comfortable; not so bloated. The nutritionist got me on to it, and I feel great.”

While Goode avoids caffeine until right before he heads out to play, O’Brien steers clear. “I had to stop taking caffeine, because I gave away about nine penalties on day,” he remarked. “I gave away four in the first 15 minutes. I was so wound up.”

Sean O’Brien on Offaly’s hurlers of yesteryear

After Goode told him about Fury downing a couple of pints before he went out to beat Wilder, O’Brien regaled him with a tale of Offaly’s crack hurling team of the 1980s.

“There was a story where a lad was supposed to have had 10 pints of Guinness before an All-Ireland Final,” O’Brien began.

“He’d have the 10 pints, then drink whiskey until early into the morning time. He’d get up, have his breakfast then go on to the All-Ireland Final. He’s still be full of Guinness, full of whiskey and would still play unbelievably well.

“In the GAA, that would have happened years ago. From my own point of view, there’s only one time I can remember playing hungover or half drunk. It was Under 17s or 18s. I wasn’t meant to be playing, but they were short.

“I rocked up in the morning time, and the lads were like, ‘Have you shorts? Have you your gear?’ I was like, ‘I’m only back in from a night out!’

“About two days later,” said O’Brien, “I played pretty well but I felt like a bus had run over me. Every single part of me was sore.”