Ringmahon's Gearoid Morrissey: It's tough balancing work with playing at a high level

'I’m currently doing shift work so it can be difficult to get to every training and even matches'
Ringmahon's Gearoid Morrissey: It's tough balancing work with playing at a high level

Matthew McKeveitt, Avondale United, battling Gearoid Morrissey, Ringmahon Rangers, in an MSL game last weekend. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

FORMER Cork City player Gearoid Morrissey has a newfound respect for the dedication amateur players have.

Morrissey, who retired from professional football after 12 years last December, rejoined his boyhood club Ringmahon Rangers for their Munster Senior League campaign this year.

He is experiencing what it is like for the first time to manage work commitments along with playing sport and is full of admiration for those who have been doing it throughout their lives.

“I didn’t miss playing at the start. I thought I might, but I didn’t. Of course, I missed going into a dressing room every day and the banter that you have with the lads but I thought I would miss the playing side of things much more. I suppose at the start everything was kind of new to me.

“Having a bit more freedom in my life to enjoy myself more without worrying about having a game or training the next day. Even simple things like not having to be conscious about everything I ate.

It did take a few months before I got that itch that I wanted to go back playing again. 

"I always knew that I would go back playing at some stage, but I just never knew when. Basil [Aidan Foley, Ringmahon manager] rang me and I felt the timing was right to go back playing.

“I’m currently doing shift work so it can be difficult to get to every training and even matches. Most times I am lucky if I can get out to training once a week and then a match on the weekend. I must admit it is tough when you do go training because I’m going training after working a 12-hour shift, and it is tiring.

“Obviously it’s not something I have been used to doing. I have to give lads credit who have been working and playing all their lives. It is a lot of commitment. I didn’t realise how difficult it was for senior league players until now.” 

Cork City's Gearoid Morrissey wins the ball from Shelbourne's George Poynton at Turner's Cross. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork City's Gearoid Morrissey wins the ball from Shelbourne's George Poynton at Turner's Cross. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Some players struggle mentally after retiring from professional football but Morrissey explains that he is enjoying retirement.

“I’m probably in a better place mentally than I have been for sometime. I know how fortunate I was to have been a professional footballer for so long but it is one of the most draining professions mentally there is.

You never switch off as a player. If you have a bad game or a result goes against you; you spend your weekend thinking about it. Even in training, if you have a poor session or play a bad pass, it plays on your mind.

“Of course, there are highs, like winning a game or scoring a goal in front of fans, but those highs don’t last and there are probably more lows than highs.

“Now, I finish work and that is it. Yes, I want to impress my boss and my colleagues. In football, there are thousands of people watching, each one with their own opinions of you. It’s tough to please all of those people. As I said, I know I was lucky to have been a professional football player but I am really enjoying being out of that industry.”

Having won all the major honours with Cork City, Morrissey is now looking to replicate that feat with Ringmahon.

“I love being back with Ringmahon. I did get offers from other senior league clubs but I don’t think I would have been welcome in Mahon again if I did,” Morrissey jokes.

“I would love to win the Munster Senior League with the club as well as the Intermediate Cup. Of course they are the major trophies at this level. I do think we have the team capable of winning them. However, there are some very good teams in the league and some very good players.

“I’ve already seen that there are a lot of players in the league that are more than capable of playing in the League of Ireland but wouldn’t even if they were offered the opportunity because of their circumstances.

“Take someone like Anthony McAlavey with us. I know he played with Waterford and Cobh in the past but he is easily good enough to play at a higher level, but he has a stable job and a family to support. His priority is his job so he can support his family.

“Playing in the League of Ireland is not worth it for guys in those circumstances. It’s too much of a risk.”

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