Cork football veteran Paul Kerrigan is still hoping for one last dance

Cork football veteran Paul Kerrigan is still hoping for one last dance
Old rivals Paul Kerrigan and Kerry's Kieran Donaghy exchange views during the 2015 Munster SFC final replay. Kerrigan would have another shot at the Kingdom. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

CORK GAA star Paul Kerrigan fears that he might have played his last game for the Rebels if the championship is cancelled this year.

The Nemo Rangers’ attacker is currently in his 13th season with Cork but is unsure whether he will make it to fourteenth or not, with a number of factors to consider.

Kerrigan, an All-Ireland winner with Cork in 2010, would like to see the championship played even if that means without spectators.

“I hope that the championship can be played in some way this season even if that means that it has to be played behind closed doors.

“Obviously, I’d much rather play in front of a crowd but if games have to be played behind closed doors then so be it.

“I think the GAA will wait as long as possible to make a decision, I don’t think they would be too pleased with playing games behind closed doors. However, they may not have a choice and what is important is that there is a championship this year.

“If there is to be a championship this year, I think it will probably be around October.

“I would be very disappointed for the championship not to go ahead because I might not get the chance to play for Cork in another one again.

“I have a lot of factors to consider about before returning next year. I’ll be 34 and might have to focus my attention a bit more on other aspects in my life.

Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane
Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

“But I love playing for Cork, so it’s something that is going to take a lot more time to think about but something that I have to consider.”

Kerrigan believes it’s unlikely that the new two-tier format will be implemented and that the competition could revert back to straight knockout.

“Cork were top of Division 3 before the pandemic outbreak and the 33-year-old feels that the Rebels would have finished the job had the league continued.

“We are probably the big losers. It was the first year the championship was going to be structured based on league results.

“I’m confident we would have been promoted from Division 3, meaning we would have been in the top-tier for this year’s championship.

“I don’t see that format happening this year. I think it will probably be straight knockout games and maybe have one qualifier if teams do lose a game to give them a second chance.

“A lot of supporters have been questioning for several years, would reverting back to straight knockout games make the championship more interesting and they may get there wish.

“Like I said, I think if we do have a championship this year, it’s going to be very late in the year and it’s going to be very difficult to fit a lot of fixtures in such a short space of time, which is why I do believe it will be straight knockout games.”

Paul Kerrigan and Stephen Attride of Laois. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton
Paul Kerrigan and Stephen Attride of Laois. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton

Having trained rigorously throughout the year, the players were given training programs from Ronan McCarthy and his management team. Players are used to training by themselves in the off-season but always have a date of return in mind.

“We were given programs by the management team and had to log our sessions every day but it can become very repetitive doing the same type of running and sessions every day.

“We have been given two weeks off, not to rest but to do our own fitness work. It gives lads a chance to do a bit of road running or cycling and I think it’s a good idea.

“It’s certainly much tougher training by myself.

“In every sport, players are always training by themselves before going back pre-season but at least then players have a date in mind of when they are returning and know what type of training to do.

“The uncertainty is the difficult part because I don’t know when we will resume. Being allowed to return training could be anytime. I don’t know whether I’m doing too much or too little training.

“It would be great to get back to some sort of training even if that is in a small group because it’s very difficult as a Gaelic player training by yourself. You need a group of players to develop skills.

“There’s not much an individual can do to improve his skills. It will also be good just to boost morale in the team. I think what I miss most is going into training and having a laugh with the lads.”

The pandemic is not the only big change recently, he and his wife recently becoming first-time parents.

“It’s been brilliant getting to spent extra time with the family.

“I’ve always been a person that stuck to a strict routine. I’d know exactly when I was going to go to the gym or go training but that’s all changed and I could find myself training at eight in the morning or eight at night.”

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