"We’re big boys. You just have to pick yourself up. You’ve got to learn the lessons." 2 months ago

"We’re big boys. You just have to pick yourself up. You’ve got to learn the lessons."

As a GAA player, what can you do?

In any normal year, these are the days when you’d be out slogging over puddles and ice with a manager in your ear and with teammates by your side. There’d be a match to base your weekend around and looking back now…God did we even know how lucky we were?

This Covid groundhog has reduced us once again to home work-outs, to blind training and to a state of limbo but as Cork football captain Ian Maguire says, the best bet is to keep spirits high and the body ticking.

“January was a pretty strange month for everyone I’d say. When February rolled around it was kind of hard to believe that it was February,” he says at the launch of Sports Direct’s sponsorship of Cork GAA.

It’s not stepping stones or Allianz Leagues, it’s finding a patch to play in, an exercise bike to suffer on.

Maguire's daily routine

“For me at the moment, ticking the boxes is trying to get my home workouts in my kitchen below. I’ve got an exercise bike, trying to get those exercises in, doing the 5ks. If there’s a patch of grass I can find, kicking a ball around and that sort of thing.

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“I work at home so maybe I’m at a luxury compared to other people but I have a bit of structure to my day. Work from home 8-4, do a bit of exercise. 

“I have a bit of a process but it’s not easy at the moment and I think everyone probably has the same experiences.” 

As many will attest to, the rigours of this lockdown have hit harder.

“I didn’t feel the full effects of lockdown, to a certain extent, towards the end of last year. 

“When we were training , you had three nights a week where you were going out to training and it was something you had in your schedule. 

“When we got knocked out of the championship, it was such a difference when I didn’t have those trainings and matches to look forward to. 

“This January and February, going back to March (last year) it’s extremely tough but it is just the nature of the beast at the moment for everyone. You just have to be grateful for the position that you’re in and adhere to the guidelines and keep ticking the boxes that you can.”

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As for last year’s sweet victory over Kerry and bitter loss to Tipperary, the St Finbarr’s club-man reflects on a missed opportunity.

“Since I’ve been involved with Cork football in 2014, every year is a missed opportunity when you’re not getting to the latter stages of competitions or winning competitions. 

“Regardless of what else happened in the year, Cork got knocked out in a Munster final. It was fourth year in a row we lost the Munster final. These are all missed opportunities. They all hurt. 

“That loss to Tipp hurt and it was a missed opportunity. 

“The beauty of sport is that you get to pick yourself up and go again but what’s probably a bit tougher with this lockdown is that I feel I haven’t had a chance to go back training or right the wrongs. 

“When you’re doing your home workouts, it’s just not the same as training as a team, or cracking into the league or McGrath Cup like you would have in other years. You get to roll into the next championship or next league and we haven’t had that opportunity so this loss has probably been a bit tougher than other years. 

“But we’re big boys. You just have to pick yourself up. You’ve got to learn the lessons and you’ve got to go again…”

As for the controversy that has surrounded his team breaching Covid regulations for a training session, Maguire says that would be a county board issue.

“I’ll be the first to say, these are sensitive times. Youghal and Ronan McCarthy’s suspension, these are all matters that need to be dealt with by the county board. 

“I’m unable to comment on that. I know you might think this is a cop-out but that’s the mandate that we’re following at the moment. 

“This is a county board issue that has to be dealt with so as a player we just can’t comment on it at the moment.

Cork GAA football captain, Ian Maguire, pictured following the announcement of Sports Direct’s new five-year sponsorship deal with Cork GAA that will see Sports Direct support the men’s senior, Under 20 and Minor teams in both codes and provide a new personalised boot partnership for the senior panels. The new Cork GAA jersey was also launched today and celebrates the three core pillars of clubs, schools and county, that together, form the foundation of Cork GAA. The newly-launched jersey is now available exclusively through Sports Direct Ireland online https://ie.sportsdirect.com/, until stores across the country re-open.
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan