Irish basketball ace and Douglas football coach explain how they're staying fit and ready during the sporting shutout

Irish basketball ace and Douglas football coach explain how they're staying fit and ready during the sporting shutout
Cork footballer Brian Hartnett (right) and his brother Niall, former Cork minor and captain of the Douglas minor football county champions get in some practice during the current Covid-19 pandemic. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THESE are strange days for everyone, especially for the players and coaches in Cork and beyond whose lives normally spin around the sporting axis. 

With sport locked down due to Covid-19, everyone is trying to stay sharp for when they do return to the training and playing pitches.

This week in the Echo we caught up with athletes and mentors from across the spectrum to find out how they're keeping focused, mentally and physically, away from their normal routine.

Today, Irish basketball international Jordan Blount, whose time playing college basketball in the US is over and who is now looking towards securing a professional contract next summer, and Douglas football manager Ray Keating reveal how they are coping.

JORDAN BLOUNT (Irish basketballer):

How are you and your team preparing and training now?

"I had to leave America [where he played for four seasons with UIC in Chicago] so I'm back in Ireland right now. Our season ended and I am a senior so I’m not doing much with my team right now. I'm waiting to take the next step in my basketball career." 

Jordan Blount drives to the hoop for Ireland against Luxembourg. His next port of call could be as a pro in Spain. Picture: Larry Cummins
Jordan Blount drives to the hoop for Ireland against Luxembourg. His next port of call could be as a pro in Spain. Picture: Larry Cummins

What type of programme are you following?

"Personally, I was very lucky to have access to a gym in the early stages of this lockdown so I was getting a workout in every day. Since the more severe measures were put in place this was made a bit more difficult. 

"Since, I have a basketball hoop out my back garden and shoot around and play with my brothers out there every day. I have also started to do at home workouts that do not require any type of insane equipment. 

"It is all bodyweight and very invigorating so it definitely suffices in this trying time. It’s extremely important for us to keep active in some shape or form not just for our bodies and our fitness but more so for our mental. 

"Our mental health can be very delicate sometimes and having such a major shift in our everyday lives so abruptly can often affect this. With that being said, these at-home workouts can be extremely beneficial. Knowing, in the back of your mind that you are literally doing everything you can, can definitely put our minds at ease and keep us in a better state of mind.

"Following programs like this presents a new set of challenges for us as a community and demands us to develop a level of self-belief and strength we may not have had before this pandemic." 

What are the biggest issues you are facing now to keep players fit and in contact?

"Every situation presents its own challenges and right now we are all facing the same ones. With that being said, I have individual workouts prepared for basketball players to stay up on their skills during this period and also an at-home workout that anyone can use and for all ages!

"I can be contacted at jbloun2@uic.edu for anybody that wants access to these workouts. We must stick together and help one another as best we can and we will soon be on the other end of this!"

RAY KEATING (Douglas):

How are you and your team preparing and training now?

"Things were going well pre-lockdown. Training was good, but our biggest issue was the weather because we only got one league game out of three played, had two more challenge games called off, as well as three Junior A games."

What type of programmes are they following?

"We’ve tried to give players some guidance on strength work they can do at home because gyms are obviously shut. And we have running sessions they can do on any patch of grass."

Ballincollig's Patrick Kelly is tackled by Douglas' Ray Keating when the teams met in 2013. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Ballincollig's Patrick Kelly is tackled by Douglas' Ray Keating when the teams met in 2013. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

What are the biggest issues you are facing now to keep players fit and in contact?

"The main issue is the uncertainty surrounding when we’re actually going to be playing again. There’s no point in trying to peak now if you’re not playing championship for three months.

"Our biggest challenge is to make sure the group is still connected to each other and the fund-raiser for Marymount was great in that regard as well as being a huge success financially.

"The mental side is also very important because fellows have a lot of free time now, time that provides a positive outlet. You can forget about what’s going on in your life and we’re conscious in ensuring players that is support available in that regard.

"We can provide the tools that will hopefully bridge that gap, forever how long it will be. We use mostly WhatsApp groups to keep in touch."

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