THEY mightn’t get the opportunity for a run in the championship this year, but this Saturday the Cork senior footballers are undertaking a relay to raise funds for Pieta House.
The squad features players from 24 different clubs and, over the course of the day, they will cover the total distance between those clubs, beginning with the St Finbarr’s contingent in the morning and ending with team manager Ronan McCarthy in Douglas.
The event was launched with an aerial video of all the club grounds produced by St Finbarr’s PRO Stephen Goggin, who operates Kickstart Media and has been well received. Team captain Ian Maguire is one of the Barrs players kicking things off and he is looking forward to the challenge.
‘A couple of lads were chatting in the WhatsApp group about maybe doing something for charity, in terms of coming together,’ he says.
‘It was just before the Darkness Into Light walk that we decided to do something for Pieta but we felt we wouldn’t do it on the day, because that’s such an event and a lot of clubs were already involved themselves.
‘We decided that we’d continue the work of Darkness Into Light for two reasons – one, in terms of mental health but, two, to show the importance of fundraising throughout the year. Darkness Into Light is a great event but is it enough for such an essential service?
‘The biggest thing that we wanted to separate ourselves from other charity events was players actually talking about mental health. It unifies the team in that we’re all together for the one goal but also each of us represents our club, all the players and the backroom staff like Colin Lane and Mick Curtin. We’re doing the run for Cork but also to represent the clubs, not just the ones with players on the panel.
‘The total run is 432km. The way we did it is that, instead of Thomas Clancy running 55 kilometres and Ian Maguire running one kilometre, we averaged it out for each player – each one of us sharing the burden together.
‘The St Finbarr’s players will go first, then Cian Kiely from Ballincolllig. The idea is that we’ll run throughout the day, connecting the clubs, and then we’ll work back to Douglas and Ronan McCarthy finishes it then, like a boss!’
While the initiative helps in terms of exercise, Maguire is keen to underline the importance of mental health and the work Pieta House does.
‘For a lot of people, and I’d be one of them, you grow up almost with an ignorance towards mental health,’ he says.
‘It’s only over the last couple of years, with different things that have happened in people’s lives, that I’ve become more aware. I’m a lot friendlier now with Brian Hurley than when I first came into the panel and I wasn’t aware of some of the things that he was facing, trying to get his injury right.
‘I’ve been with Seán Powter in a car once or twice when he has been on to the phone to Dr Con Murphy and he’s coming off and he’s not sure what’s happening, there’s an uncertainty there.
‘When you’re supported by team-mates, it’s fine but it’s different when you’re going home and wondering what you’re going to do the next day.
‘With Covid-19, mental health is still an issue and it’s okay to talk about it. It’s like everything has been put on the back-burner but a lot of social pressures have probably been magnified even more.’
With restrictions still in place, Maguire and the rest of the panel are having to train in isolation, meaning a lack of benchmarking, so he is keen to see how the run times compare on Saturday.
‘The hardest thing for a player is when you’re training on your own,’ he says.
‘It’s very hard to push yourself as an individual when you don’t have a benchmark with you. For example, when we run, we know that Mattie Taylor will be leading things and that’s where we need to be. When you’re on your own, it’s hard to know if you’re really pushing yourself.
‘If you’re in an individual sport, you’re used to that environment but when you normally have 30 guys training, it’s a lot different. It’s something people have been getting used to and credit to Jim O’Donoghue with the Barrs and Kevin Smith with Cork. They’ve put training templates in place to get people bouncing off each other, time-trials and things like that to try to get that competitiveness.
‘Because the Cork-Kerry game was due to be played last weekend, that was a significant point. With our run on Saturday, we’re hoping to get a leaderboard of times for the 10km and people will see where they’re at. It has the competitive element within the team.’