CORK footballer Mark Collins doesn’t expect the inter-county season to return until the autumn, at the earliest.
The 30-year-old Castlehaven forward is the Gaelic Players’ Association (GPA) rep for the footballers.
“We had a meeting the other night, when Tom Parsons, from Mayo, made a very good point,” Collins said.
“He was saying, realistically, the best possible scenario for team sport is a return in September-October and the players will be asked to play in those months and into November, as well.
“This is usually players’ downtime, but we’re training now as if championship is in a month’s time.
“Parsons was saying that players are likely to be going a full year and that the GAA should call it now and have a down period for players when they don’t have to train as hard.
“To be fair to everyone involved in this, nobody knows what’s going to happen,” Collins said.
“And it has to be the way that the World Health Organisation will make those decisions. Money can’t talk in all this, because it’s too serious,” Collins said.
Still, the Douglas-based accountant is keeping fit under the guidance of Cork’s expert coaches.
“To be fair, our strength-and-conditioning coach, Kevin Smyth, and Cian O’Neill have been brilliant.
“From minute one, Kevin got on to us and we decided to stick with the training plan we had all along.
“We were doing gym Monday and Friday, pitch Tuesday and Thursday, and a session at the weekend,” Collins said. “Kevin sends us on running programmes and Cian sends skills sessions for those three days.
“It’s going very well and is brilliant to keep you occupied for a couple of hours almost every day.
“In the first week, two or three us could meet up for running sessions, but all that changed, so we’re doing it on our own now, which is a small bit tougher,” he said.
“Cian has changed it around as well, in that we’re trying to beat times, which brings a level of competitiveness. And when it’s over, then you have to put a picture into the WhatsApp group and that creates a bit of craic,” Collins said.
“There’s plenty of interaction and this is vital. I’d say, we’re on to each other every day and that’s been very good.
“All along, it was body-weight exercises, doing circuits, but, recently, we got weights from gyms and started to use them, which is another important change,” Collins said
As for honing skills, inter-county players might not have many people at home to whom they can kick-pass, for example.
“It’s great if you have anyone in the house with you, like your brother, sister or girlfriend, someone who’ll run after a ball.
“Cian has sent us on nearly 100 drills that we can do either on your own or if you just have one person with you.”
Not knowing a return date is most frustrating, but especially for Collins, because he missed the whole league.
“I played McGrath Cup on January 2, against Tipp, and picked up what I thought was a routine groin strain, a two-week job. But, it wasn’t getting any better, more like wear and tear, and it took a lot longer than expected.
“The first game back in the panel was the Derry game in Pairc Ui Chaoimh, so it was two-and-a-half months. It’s perfect now and, typically, I was just getting fit, when all this happened,” Collins said.
The club scene hasn’t been forgotten, either, with the Haven organising team meetings on Zoom to keep fellows interested.
“Anything you can do to occupy a couple of hours during the day is great,” Collins said.