PAURIC GRIMES: Retired players – The buck stops with you

By Pauric Grimes

AS we supped our pints of stout, in awe of the show that Walsh and Clifford were treating us to, little did we know that later that night Marty Morrisey and Liam McCarthy would perfectly sum up the ethos we carry through Reignite.

Marty Morrisey, “Tonight and today ends the men’s hurling and football championship.”

Larry McCarthy ”Well it ends the intercounty season, now we start the club season,which caters for 98 per cent of our players”

Good man, Larry! The road to Croker and the battle for Sam makes up a tiny part of the GAA calendar.

No doubt it gets the headlines, but as Larry says there’s still 98 per cent to get on with after the county season’s over.

And just like once all is said and done at headquarters there is still much more left to do in the life of a GAA player, once you have hung up the boots and closed that chapter of your life, there is much more to do.

A reminder once more that just because one thing ends it doesn’t mean everything ends.

You still have a responsibility to yourself to stay in shape, to be healthy and to have a purpose to your day.

One of the lads I was watching the game with has been training with me for the best part of four years – pandemic withstanding.

He retired at around 2728. Got married, started a family, priorities changed and his love for the game disappeared. He couldn’t justify the sacrifice anymore at this time in his life.

But after two years of not playing football, training regularly and having a reason in his head to eat well and look after himself, the pounds piled on and the belt needed loosened.

It’s at that point he reached out to me and we went to work. And he showed up. Twice a week, every week without fail. There were periods when we dropped the hammer and increased output to three or four sessions per week but would never drop below that baseline of two.

I’m painting this picture for you because as we sat watching the game, dissecting where it was won and lost, our pints of Guinness helped to lubricate the conversation.

“You’d have done a better job for them in the middle of the field, Damo. You’re in better shape at 35 than you were at 25!”

He actually is. And there’s absolutely no reason why you couldn’t be too.

He, like so many others, retired from playing because he had fallen out of love with the game. It was the playing, being a part of a team and everything that went along with that which he enjoyed. He wasn’t fussed on training, didn’t take much heed of his eating and didn’t enjoy how serious he felt it had got.

Some people love what the modern game demands of you in terms of training and performance.

Others don’t.

There’s no right or wrong camp to be in as long as you acknowledge that your expectations need to match your standards.

Where the penny drops is after the point. After you’re no longer training regularly and playing games every week. After you pull the handbrake on the physical output of a lifetime, and continue eating like you always did. Or sometimes, a little worse because you don’t have to worry about fueling properly for a training or a match at the weekend.

It’s when you are no longer pigeon-holed as a “player” and have to be an adult.

“I saw how you went after quitting and didn’t want to be another one of the fat dads club.”

The craic was good, the pints were smooth and the truth cut straight to the point.

Your All-Ireland campaign may have ended once you decided you were finished playing, but as Larry McCarthy said, there’s still a whole lot of playing left to be done.

So, are you going to be an ex-player in the fat dads club or an adult who joins the fit dads’ club?

As always, the best thing about these sorts of questions is that ultimately the buck stops with you. You get to decide what way the story goes.

I’ll leave you with this. I’ve been a member of both, and I can don’t think I have to tell you which one I prefer.

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