'Pulling on the Cork jersey and playing GAA in these times is a privilege'

'Pulling on the Cork jersey and playing GAA in these times is a privilege'

Cork's Cian Kiely and Lough's Kevin Carr go high for the ball at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THE CORK footballers are doing everything they can to protect themselves from becoming the latest statistic in the growing numbers of those with Covid.

That’s according to wing-back Cian Kiely, who was one of the stars in the side’s promotion-clinching 5-19 to 0-16 win over Louth at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday.

The Ballincollig player capped an impressive display by setting up Paul Kerrigan for the team’s third goal after 22 minutes which helped Cork compile a winning total.

“We’re adhering to the protocols. Everyone is wearing masks, maintaining social distancing from one another and doing everything we can to protect ourselves,” Kiely said.

It’s the new norm now for inter-county players that they eat at home first, then travel on their own to meet up with the rest of the group, 90 minutes before the start.

And Kiely, a secondary school teacher, admitted it was eerie playing in an empty stadium with all games closed to the public.

“That’s very strange, as well. Normally, when the ball is thrown up you can hear a few cheers, but not this time.

“It’s weird, as I say, but we have the privilege of coming out here and actually playing during these mad times. And whether there’s people at the game or not, we’re just delighted to be playing at a ground with fantastic facilities.

“It was a weird few months for everyone, so it was fantastic to be given the opportunity to play the game. At the moment we don’t know whether football will continue or not.

“All we can do is prepare as best we can, taking it session by session. We’re very happy with the result because we, obviously, came out to win and got the result we were looking for.”

Cork made it six wins from as many starts with their biggest victory of the season.

Colm O'Callaghan scores the opening goal from Lough's Bevan Duffy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Colm O'Callaghan scores the opening goal from Lough's Bevan Duffy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Paul Kerrigan scored two of the goals, Colm O’Callaghan, captain Ian Maguire and substitute Mark Collins the others.

“Our goal was to get out of Division 3 and thankfully we were able to get the first of our last two games played. Hopefully, the game in Longford will be played as well on Sunday.

“We set out to perform to our best in every game. I thought we came together really well in the week-and-half leading up to the resumption.

“I thought it was great to get a performance like that and it showed the group is coming together very well.”

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