FORMER Cork City player Jimmy Keohane is relieved that England have a roadmap in place to fully come out of lockdown so that life can get back to ‘normal’.
Although Keohane is still able to go to work, train and play football matches, the Rochdale player knows that lockdowns have been tough on people and having dates for restrictions to be eased has given people hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“To have some dates in place to when the restrictions are going to be lift really has given people a bit of a boost.
“Having a plan in place just gives people hope that things can go back to normal soon enough,” Keohane said.
“Speaking to my friends in Ireland, there are obviously no dates as to when the country will come out of lockdown and I could tell, they were annoyed by that, especially when England have a plan in place.
“I’ve been quite fortunate that I have still been able to train and play matches and get out of the house during the day.
“The differences for me are that I used to travel to training with Paul McShane and Bonesy (Eoghan O’Connell) but we can’t travel in together anymore because of restrictions.
“I have to get Covid tests done twice weekly which aren’t pleasant, and we have to eat individually at lunch.
“Obviously, I would like to go out to a restaurant or do something when I go home but I would consider myself fortunate because others have to remain at home all day.
“Mollie (Keohane’s partner) hasn’t been able to go to work and she finds it tough being stuck in the house all day and then I feel bad that I still get to go out.
“I did find it very tough mentally during the first lockdown. We were training and then when it was decided the league would be stopped, we were given programmes to do at home.
“Next thing, I was told that the club had accepted the furlough scheme and that meant then that communication between players and the club had to stop.
“We couldn’t ring asking about what sort of training we should be doing or anything relating to us working because once the club decided to furlough the players, then we weren’t allowed to do anything that would be seen as us working for the club.”
Rochdale are struggling at the bottom of League 1 and manager Brian Barry-Murphy has come under pressure.
Keohane believes the Cork native is still the right man for the job and will get the club out of danger.
“I don’t think the table reflects our performances this season. We started the league slowly but then found some momentum.
“At one stage I think other teams in the division thought we were the best attacking side in the league, but the problem was we were conceding a lot of goals.
“There is a good atmosphere in the dressing room and having players like Paul (McShane) helps.
“He does love to have a laugh but when things need to be said or he feels that players aren’t taking things serious enough he will speak up.
“The gaffer has been excellent, and he is so positive even when we have lost a game and things will turn around.
“Every manager is obviously going to come under some pressure when the team is at the bottom of the table, that’s only natural, but the gaffer is definitely the right man for the job.”
After recently turning 30, Keohane knows that he doesn’t have long left in his footballing career and has been preparing for life after sport.
The former Exeter City player is currently studying for a mathematics degree but still plans on continuing playing football for a few more years.
“My contract is up at the end of the season and we will have to see what happens then.
“There hasn’t been much discussions of a new contract, but I suppose the focus for now for everyone is to try and avoid relegation and then address contracts after that.
I’ve been studying mathematics at Open University for the past six years and I’m in my final three months of the course, so once I have that degree, I should have more options in place.
“It’s normally a three-year course but I’ve been doing it part-time so that’s why it’s taken six years. I’ve started the course during my time at Exeter.
“The only benefit of lockdown is that it has allowed me to give more time to my studying.
“Everything is done online, so lockdown hasn’t affected the way the course is taught like some other degrees.
“With it being online the onus is really on the individual to put the time and effort in which is why I decided to do it part-time instead of full-time.
“I know footballers finish up most days at lunchtime and have time on their hands, but I just felt I didn’t need to rush the course because I am playing football, earning an income and didn’t need the degree quickly to get another job.
“I don’t see myself returning to Ireland to play anytime soon but it’s not something that I would rule out in the future.”