'We're all working hard on fitness and touch but nothing can replicate what you need to be ready for games again'

'We're all working hard on fitness and touch but nothing can replicate what you need to be ready for games again'
Cork captain Maria O'Sullivan: “It’s quite tough to train by yourself so the big issue that I’m facing is what I’m missing: someone to kick a ball at me and different players taking shots at you.” Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

THESE are unusual times for athletes and managers across Leeside.

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.

We caught up with the soccer community to see how they are coping...

NEALE FENN (Cork City manager):

1. How are you and your team preparing and training now?

“We’re all back in our own homes following government advice and the players are training on their own.”

2. What type of programmes are ye following?

“Each player initially received a two-week gym and running programme when the season was delayed in early March but Joe Gamble has revised this and given each player a programme to run until the end of May. Hopefully we’ll be back in training by then!

“The gym programmes are designed to be able to use at home with little equipment to build up strength and mobility. The conditioning program is to be carried out every other day and is a mix of aerobic, speed and agility and high-intensity sprints.”

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

“The biggest problem we have is that the players are training in isolation and, as much as you can do running and gym programmes to keep fit, nothing replicates football fitness. I’m sure aerobically the players will be fine when we return but it will take a few weeks for the players to get their football fitness and match fitness back.”

Cork City manager Neale Fenn. Picture: Eddie O’Hare
Cork City manager Neale Fenn. Picture: Eddie O’Hare

MARIA O’SULLIVAN (Cork City Women’s FC captain):

1. How are you and your team preparing and training now?

“At Cork City, we’ve been given a very detailed day by day program from our management staff and s&c coach. It includes running, weights programs and soccer drills that we have to follow strictly.

“We must report back daily with our running test scores, or our exact weights exercises or we must send in videos of our soccer drills depending on the day, this is great as it ensures everyone is doing what they should be doing. Our management are doing a great job as they are always making sure we follow the program and giving constant feedback.

2. What type of programmes are ye following?

“I follow the running and weights program given to us from City but on top of that I do my own individual goalkeeper drills provided by our goalkeeper coach. So I do different drills from handling, diving, passing and hand-eye coordination drills.

“I also do a lot of skipping and other speed drills to keep up my footwork. I’m also cycling a lot during this time.”

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

“Well I suppose as a keeper it’s quite tough to train by yourself so the big issue that I’m facing is what I’m missing: someone to kick a ball at me and different players taking shots at you. That’s very hard to replicate that variety.

“Training with the whole team really benefits me so I’m missing that hugely. The goalkeeper specific drills I’m doing at the moment are not quite game realistic.

“You’d miss having the facilities in the gym as well but I suppose there are ways around that. Overall though there are still many ways to keep fit and in shape. From a soccer point of view, it also helps having such regular contact with our coaches.”

Cork keeper Maria O’Sullivan. Picture: Andy Fitz
Cork keeper Maria O’Sullivan. Picture: Andy Fitz

DYLAN COLLINS (manager, Cork Youth Leagues Inter-League team):

1. How are you and your team preparing and training now?

“Due to the Government restrictions, it’s impossible for us as a team to prepare for the Inter-League at the moment.

“The FAI issued the suspension of games the day before we were due to play Mayo in the All-Ireland quarter-final and up until that point we were working hard doing video analysis and on the training pitch in our preparation for that game.

“I think every manager in the country has the same question at this stage, will all of our respective competitions be completed?

“This is especially important for us as some of the lads in our squad are overage for youth football next season and won’t get the opportunity to compete in FAI Youth competitions again. But we are all hopeful that, when normality resumes, we will get the competition finished.”

2. What type of programmes are ye following?

“As the players will have more contact hours with their clubs on a week-to-week basis, we think it’s best that the players will follow the programmes are set by their clubs.

“At youths level, almost all clubs will incorporate a gym session in their weekly training and players will be well aware of the level of fitness they must be at for elite competition. But also, players have played a lot of football up to this point and most lads are probably happy with the break so their bodies can recover.”

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

“For us, the biggest issue will be getting all the competitions finished when we do get back to normal.

“There will be so many games to be played and this will take its toll on the players physically. I have faith in all our players to stay fit, we have a very hard-working and dedicated group with us.

“But I think it is very important that we do get all of the competitions finished. Within the league, we still have four teams involved in FAI competitions, the Cork Youths in the FAI Inter-League, Douglas Hall and St Marys U18s in the FAI Youths Cup and Douglas Hall in the FAI U17 Cup, and we also have College Corinthians in the Munster Youths Cup.

“These players and coaches have worked extremely hard all season to get into the position they are in and I’m hopeful that their chance at competing in these great competitions isn’t taken away.”

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