Kilkenny hurling legend Jackie Tyrrell had a stellar sporting career, winning a whopping 9 All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship titles and 4 All-Star awards. He’s regarded as one of the most skillful players the game of hurling has ever seen.
Jackie is an extremely positive person both on and off the field, but he didn’t always find this easy. The Littlewoods Ireland Style Ambassador had days where all he could think about were his negative performances, and whether he was good enough to be on the Kilkenny panel.
We sat down with Jackie and he told us about the tougher days of his career,. He let us know how he managed to change his mindset to only see the good, and how wanting to be the best version of himself is what pushed him to make a change.
Best version of himself
“Yeah, it is an out there statement to make, to say that I like to be positive and be the best version of myself, but I break it down to on a day to day basis. After training sessions or matches I used to be a divil for beating myself up, for bottling up how I felt. This is prevalent in society in Ireland today, for males to bottle up how they feel. It’s important to speak out and talk about what’s on your mind.
“On a low level, I became good friends with a guy in Kilkenny who i just used to talk to and ring him up after a game. He used to put it to me that it was all very simple- why are we beating ourselves up over a game? I learned that it was only a game at the end of the day, and he used to tell me that I worry too much about what people think out there. He told me to just forget about all that, and that it’s just about enjoying the game, and about playing with a smile on my face. You go out there, you perform, and if it doesn’t go well for you then you just bounce back.
“Before speaking to him, if I had a bad game on a Sunday I would be annoyed Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, it would maybe even still be with me on Thursday. Then I started thinking about that and talking about how I felt and come Monday evening I’d have that game parked and I’d be looking forward and feeling positive and up beat, I’d have left that baggage behind me.”
It’s a journey
Although Jackie took this simple step to try and take care of his well being and mental health, it wasn’t a quick and easy process. It took time to adjust to his new mindset and to make it a routine.
“It wasn’t a thing that just talking to a person once that it helped me, it was a journey with him. Eventually though I just kind of freed myself of all of that doubt and I had confidence, because at the end of the day it’s a game.
“I used to let it affect my relationships, I’d be coming home and giving grief to my Mam and Dad. My friend used to challenge me about that and say that the people that love you the most in your life are there for you through thick and thin and you’re being snappy with them when you walk through the door. If I met a supporter down the street though, I would stop and talk to them and be nice. So when I sat back and had a think about that I realised that he was dead right and it just put everything into perspective for me.”
Jackie has now retired from the game at both club and county level, but he takes these values with him off the pitch and into his everyday life.