WHILE certain people may have enjoyed the downtime during this global pandemic, many of us are looking forward to getting back to the hustle and bustle of our usual busy lives.
Initially, a break from our daily routine was welcomed but 12 months on, we crave for the return of normality in our lives.
For Derek McCarthy, playing football at least four nights a week was something he has done for over three decades, and he looks forward to being back on the pitch as soon as possible.
“To be honest, I hear a lot of people say how much they enjoy having free time again in their lives, I don’t enjoy it one bit, sport is my free time and that’s my life since I was a kid,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy is well known in the footballing circles of Cork, in particular in his beloved Carrigaline area.
Still a player but also managing the club’s junior side, McCarthy clearly loves the game dedicating so much of his time to the club and wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m with Carrigaline 35 years with a two-year absence when I went to Cobh Ramblers for a spell many years ago. I have very fond memories of Cobh but Carrigaline is my home.
“I’m currently the junior premier manager with Philly Fehily as my right-hand man and great friend by my side.
“This is my second stint as junior manager as I also took the team from 2015 to '17. I have managed a number of teams in the club to date, including the youths, U17s and my first management job was the junior AUL side back in 2010.
“I have won at least one trophy with each team I managed to date. That’s excluding the current team, as Covid denies us that one.
I love been out most nights of the week involved with football. I’m involved in training sessions three nights a week and I could usually be at four games on the weekends.
“It’s what I love to do. It’s been a nightmare since football finished up and the longer this goes on the more kids and adults will be impacted.
“It’s really tough not doing the thing you love, for me it’s playing football.”
How important does McCarthy think sport is in the lives of so many people?
“Sport is a massive factor in people’s lives, mentally and physically. I’m seeing a lot of people struggling without it.
“Sport isn’t only about on the field on match day, but instead it’s about training, making friends, dressing room banter, socialising, your teammates become family.
“You spend a lot of time together and are all there to help each other whether it’s on or off the field. I’m really missing sport a lot.”
McCarthy’s junior side were top of the league before the first lockdown struck, and although disappointed not to finish the season he is hoping for this year to resume and for the lads to get something from the hard work they put in.
“Initially, when sport finished I suppose we all felt and hoped it would be for a short time only.
“We were currently top of the 2019-'20 season with five games left and were unbeaten for the year to that point in the league.
“As you can imagine we were gutted when the season was suspended but when the league confirmed the season null and void we felt very hard done by.
The league could have easily finished the old season before starting the new and at least one season would have been completed but instead, we now have two seasons unfinished.
“The new season we played nine games and I think and we only had five left in the old and all leagues were similar at that point.
“So personally it hit me very hard. We had put in a lot of hard work and it was all for nothing in the end which was obviously very disappointing for all involved.”
The game continues to evolve and for McCarthy been involved in the local leagues for over 30 years, he is thrilled to see the standard of the game get better each year.
“The junior and senior leagues are fantastically competitive, teams are getting younger, fitter, faster and it’s great to see.
“At Carrigaline, we facilitate for all adult levels but our junior and senior team are very young. Competition for places is very tough and that’s great from a manager's perspective as it keeps guys hungry.
“Personally I think the senior and junior teams are in a great position and we are getting stronger every year. Coaches are becoming more qualified, players are becoming more competitive and hungrier and this is all starting to show in the level of football we get to watch on a daily basis.
“This begins at grassroots level and travels right up through the ranks at our club which is great to see. Like all the clubs in the country, we too are hoping for a return soon. It will be fantastic to see our pitches occupied with people once again.”