THERE IS light at the end of the tunnel as adult players throughout West Cork and beyond have received the all-clear to return to outdoor club training sessions from this Monday, May 10th. It’s not a moment too soon either according to West Cork-based footballers, hurlers and camogie players interviewed by The Southern Star.
Martina Collins (Dohenys ladies football) – ‘Mairead Mawe sent a message to our players’ WhatsApp group about when we would be able to go back training and the reaction was something else. You could sense the excitement and relief in each player’s reply. The thought that we would soon be reunited back out on the pitch for a training session was just a fantastic feeling.
‘We have been on Zoom sessions throughout the winter but there is only so much you can chat about in those so, of course, we are looking forward to the football side of things but the social aspect of meeting up once again is equally important. That (government) announcement has given everyone involved in the GAA a big lift.
‘Hopefully, there won’t be too much of a rush to get back playing games just yet. Getting match practice is a big thing before heading into the championship alright so hopefully, we might get the chance to play a few practice games before that starts up again. For now, just getting back to simple ball work and getting a feel for the football will be all that matters.’
Sean O’Donovan (Ilen Rovers senior football) – ‘The most important thing for us right now is to try and get that group dynamic going once again back out on the pitch. It is great that we had the government announcement and then the Cork county championship draws in the same week to help focus our attention heading into the summer.
‘Hopefully, we will be able to go back to full-contact training soon but it is great from a social point of view to be able to meet up with the lads once again. The social side of going back playing football is such a major part of what we do.
‘Ilen Rovers are looking forward to just getting back on the pitch and working hard. The fact we will be back training and playing championship football in the summer is also good. As club players, we are used to slogging on wet pitches during the winter months whereas we are going back on May 10th and on pitches that will be in excellent condition. Everyone will be hopping and it will be great to see a pep in everyone’s step when we take part in that first training session.’
Moira Barrett (Ballinascarthy camogie) – ‘It is brilliant to be going back as, in fairness, everyone has been waiting for the moment when it was announced we could return to training and now it is here.
‘It’s also great for people’s mental health. Getting together, collectively, and seeing all your teammates out on the same pitch will give every single GAA player a boost. Having not seen many of the Ballinascarthy camogie players in so long, I’m definitely looking forward to going back training. Representing your club is the most important thing for any player as far as I am concerned.
‘In camogie, you can do all the running in the world but you need your team around you and match practice to get back up to speed, to get your touch. That’s where everything comes together. The long evenings are on the way with everyone out training together and that will be brilliant for people’s mental health more than anything.’
Joe Collins (Kilmacabea junior football) – ‘It is great to be going back. Kilmacabea did very little up until January when we went back with our individual running. That’s not ideal by any means and not why we play football. Football is a team sport so obviously we are looking forward to joining up as a panel once again.
‘Everyone is just keen to get back out on the field. From our own point of view, Kilmacabea has an awful lot to gain over the next couple of months. The club is competing in a county quarter-final and that will be our sole focus, preparing properly for that as soon as we return to training.
‘Our players’ main priority since the start of the year was to get some mileage into the legs so that we would be ready as soon as we were cleared to start training again. It will be all ball-work as the hard running is done now. With any bit of luck, we should have enough time on our side to play high-quality challenge matches once it is safe to do so.’
James Walsh (Bandon senior hurling) – ‘Training away on your own, you don’t get the full competitiveness that you’d get from a group training session. To get the best out of yourself, you need to be competing against other players out on the pitch. That’s where you get to see where you are actually at. Reacting to a sliotar flying at you is the only way to prepare for in-game situations.
‘Sharpening our skills, as a group, will be the big thing for Bandon over the next couple of weeks. That’s why, for hurling anyway, it is critical that you are out there (on the pitch) and getting your touch right.
‘Avoiding injuries will be another big thing. I’ve noticed the odd niggle myself having been running over the last few months. That’s why strength and conditioning coaches have been emphasising the importance of players doing their core work. Injuries are inevitable as players push themselves to get back up to full pace. It is down to each individual player to make sure they are ready and hopefully we will be okay by the time league games come around.’