| 15.1°C Dublin

Hurley burly Ireland’s strongest man urges Limerick countymen to make their own sporting history today

Our tough record-breaking strongest man lifts weight of 5 Limerick players and says: ‘We’re just too strong to lose’


Pa lifts Maeve who is Ireland’s second strongest woman.

Pa lifts Maeve who is Ireland’s second strongest woman.

Pa lifts Maeve who is Ireland’s second strongest woman.

Ireland’s record-breaking strongest man urged his Limerick countymen to make their own sporting history today.

Muscle-bound Pa O’Dwyer dead-lifted the weight of five Limerick hurlers last week to claim the title of Ireland’s Strongest Man – now he is backing his fellow countymen to do the double and lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup for the second year running.

In scenes that wouldn’t have been out of a place in an episode of Game of Thrones, he claimed the national title this month in Co Down for a record fifth time, by lifting a 60st basket of rocks with his bare hands and doing a Viking press which involved hauling three huge logs over his head. For good measure, he flipped over a car to win the Finn McCool trophy.


Give Pa a sliotar and no one can take it away from him.

Give Pa a sliotar and no one can take it away from him.

Give Pa a sliotar and no one can take it away from him.



“I won four out of the five competitions. I lifted a basket of bricks with my hands. A lot of bricklayers would be able to relate to that, it’s about the weight of four or five Limerick hurlers,” he said.

More than anyone in the county, the Limerick father-of-three knows what it’s like to transform your body shape, after going from a lithe 11 stone as a young man to 23 stone of brute strength over the past decade.

Pa, who also works as a personal trainer as well as being a professional strongman, believes that the Limerick hurlers’ physical conditioning will help them win back-to-back All-Irelands.

“What makes them different is their fitness doesn’t change from the first minute to the last minute of the game. When you watch the Limerick hurlers coming off the pitch, there is none of them out of breath, they are still full of energy,” he says.

“They’re able to keep on the accelerator for the full game.”

The 35-year-old, who has spent the last decade building up his core strength, believes weight training can vastly improve performance on the field for GAA players.

“Strength is just something that kind of gets better over time, when you have the right strength coach. Building that core strength takes years, he says.”

He believes that it makes players stronger and faster, not to mention being a major bonus in the tackle.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

“When a player is trying to come in with a shoulder, they might as well be trying to shoulder a wall. When you’re stronger, you are planted to the ground, your legs are stronger, your arms are stronger.

“I don’t play football or hurling but if I had a sliotar or a ball, ask any one of those lads to take that ball off me and there’s no way, I would completely overpower them.

“I know a lot of GAA coaches and managers are against gym training and they shouldn’t be. They shouldn’t be because you can turn a hurler or footballer into a machine with the correct use of a gym.

“I don’t have the insights into what they’ve literally done in Limerick but it looks like that’s what they’ve done.”


Pa says it’s all about building up the core.

Pa says it’s all about building up the core.

Pa says it’s all about building up the core.


The laidback champion, who is the only Irish person ever to win the title of the UK’s Strongest Man, eats 12 eggs a day along with half a kilo of yoghurt and numerous streak dinners. In all, the champion, who is full of easy conversation, says he “shovels 8,000 or 9,000 calories down my throat” every day. He can lose two stone in a single week if he takes a break from the high protein diet.

The ex-trucker from Newcastlewest honed his strength in his youth wrestling calves and ­lifting foals over his shoulders during his farming childhood.

For him, it’s all about smart training. He spots a weakness and works on it. A gruelling training regime is another thing he believes he has in common with the hurlers.

“I’m a big believer in training harder, I bleed in training and I laugh in competitions. Their training would be killer but obviously, the match has the whole mentality aspect to it,” he says

At a photoshoot this week, he lifted another Limerick sports star, strength trainer, Maeve Frawley, who clinched second place in ­Ireland’s Strongest Woman competition recently and is set to compete in the UK’s Strongest Woman competition

Meanwhile, Pa and Limerick hurler, Séamas Flanagan, got to exchange good luck wishes recently when they both helped to highlight the Garda’s charity, Little Blue Heroes.

“I got to pick his brain a bit. We wished each other good luck. I’ve won my All-Ireland, it’s their turn now. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind they’ll do it,” he trumpeted.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Top Videos