Bannigan: ‘Football not the biggest priority at this moment’

Monaghan footballer Michéal Bannigan says that sport should not be rushed back.

The news emerged last week that Taoiseach Leo Varadker said that sports could return as soon as July 20.

Leo gave us some hope last week, that August time might have some football. That is promising.

My own thoughts are that early on I thought it would be back in a few weeks. The longer it goes on you think that there won’t be football played.

There’s still that thing in the back of your mind that football will be back at some point this year. I am hopeful that football will be played, but football isn’t the biggest prioirity at the moment.

A lot of things that are more important that need sorted. People have lost jobs and that sort of thing. That’s a reality for a lot of people.

The other thing is football can only come back if it is safe to do so.

The government is handling it well as it is something that we have never encountered before.”

Bannigan explained that the lockdown has put players in a situation where they have become more responsible for their own training. That has both positives and negatives.

At the start I thought it would be three or four weeks. You didn’t know what to expect.

I enjoyed the opportunity to train individually. But when you are six or seven weeks in, you thinking that you could be doing it till Christmas. The last couple of weeks were a struggle because there is no end goal and it is hard to see what you are building towards.”

He said that he finds it easier to work through those periods of doubt because training for him is a break from his studies.

Bannigan is a Business studies student in his final year of university. He says that in lockdown it is harder to gauge where he is at in terms of his fitness.

When you are in a team environment you pit yourself against other boys. You know where you are at compared to other boys in runs and in games. You nearly want that wee bit of competition to beat them.

It is difficult to know where you are at.”

Regarding contact with management, Bannigan said that the Monaghan team have had a few Zoom calls to keep up with each other.

That helps with the camaraderie with the other boys. Communication has been fairly good. We touch base to see what we can work on.

Both club and county managements have been good. They know that boys have different facilities, and they are very good and very accommodating about that.”

Mental health is an important issue at the moment.

Bannigan said: “It is a tough one, you are a footballer for eight or nine months a year, training and playing. This is the longest that you would be without it. And you do miss it.

I miss being in the team environment.”

Sometimes you can go out and get your runs done and you feel great.

But other times you go out and you just feel sluggish. You don’t feel good and you think that you would love to be training with a few other boys.

I think everyone is the same. They have some good days bad days. You are just frustrated at times. That’s life, you have to deal with it.”

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