“HAVING sport back in our lives feels fantastic.”
As the FAI gave the go-ahead for the return of football training, one happy man was Rockmount’s Danny Aherne.
“We returned to training yesterday and it was brilliant to be back on the pitch,” said Aherne.
“It was great to get back to see all the lads again and having the banter, although we would have been in touch, but to actually catch up in person was great.
“For the majority of us, it was a typical pre-season session, tough, and also the drills were different to our usual set up as we had to abide by the social distancing rules.
“But credit to the management, everything was done perfectly adhering to all guidelines that were given and the session was still enjoyable,” he said.
When I last interviewed the 26-year-old midfielder back in March, the focus was very much on winning the Munster Senior League.
Given that they were a point ahead of Ringmahon, with the latter having a game in hand, Aherne was confident that his side could win the title.
“It was very disappointing that the league was cancelled when it was. I thought we were on a good run and we were in with a good chance to win the league.
“To have won the league would have been absolutely massive to the club especially for the underage to see the senior team being successful. It would give them something to work towards and look forward to.
“However, unfortunately it wasn’t to be.”
Aherne is with the club since 2016 and although he has enjoyed some success, he believes the league is getting more and more difficult every year, such is the high standard.
“The standard of the league this year was very strong, with a lot of ex-League of Ireland players involved with a few clubs. Also there were a lot of players moving from different teams which is making the league more exciting and stronger every year.
“Prior to the lockdown we were a point ahead of Ringmahon on top of the league, but they had a game in hand on us so it would have been a good run in between us both.
“We were in a few cup finals and one semi-final so we were having a good season.
“Obviously, from our point of view, we felt it was a bit early to cancel the league.
“Personally I thought the league committee should have waited until it was safe again and then finish the season because who knows what will happen this time next year.
“Maybe there will be a possibility that we might have to go back into lockdown and then that’s two seasons not completed. I understand they may have been pressurised to make the call, but I still believe it was a tad too early.
“We had done a very tough pre-season and so it left a sour taste alright knowing that all the hard work and dedication we put in was for nothing in the end.
“However, I think now it gives us a real proper chance to get a squad together early enough and get comfortable enough playing with each other to kick on again for next season.”
For the hospital porter, who works in the South Infirmary, life during lockdown for him did not change too much.
“I suppose I was lucky enough to keep some bit of normality because I never stopped working or training, being honest.
“Working in a hospital through Covid-19 was a bit scary, to be honest, but everything was done properly and all the guidelines were followed perfectly and everyone knew what to do so it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, so we were kind of blessed in that sense.
“During the lockdown, we still trained. We had Zoom calls for work-outs with the team and we got sent some running drills to do on our own to keep the fitness up because we weren’t sure when the league was going to return. This was great really as it kept us focused as well as keeping us fit.
“I hope the season will begin again early August but I think that could be wishful thinking. I would imagine most players across the leagues would feel the same. It has been a long break and everyone seems to be eager to get back playing.
“For us in Rockmount, our aim is pretty much the same as every year. We will be looking to be as competitive as always.
“Obviously the league is the bread and butter and that will be the main aim, but we will also try and get to the deeper rounds or even win a few local cups and the intermediate cup too. A challenge that definitely isn’t out of our reach.
“A huge benefit for us next season is the fact that we will hold on to all our players. Any lad that may have considered retiring this season certainly will not now.
“I don’t think you could retire with the way the season ended especially how good our run was and I think it makes people even hungrier for some success next season with the season being cut short this year.
“We are all looking forward to the beginning of the season and let’s hope it can be a great year for us at Rockmount.”