By Niall Gartland
MONDAY marked the long-awaited return to collective club training for clubs in the North, but questions remain about how the upcoming season will unfold. We ask Tyrone club players how they got on during the lockdown, and what they’re hoping from the year ahead in terms of fixtures and results.
1) How has the latest lockdown been for you and your club?
2) The GAA released its revised calendar last week – what did you make of it from a club players’ perspective?
3) Do you feel the Tyrone CCC did a good job with last year’s fixtures? Did you enjoy it/would you like any changes this time around?
4) What are your hopes for the season ahead? What is your club looking to achieve?
(Omagh, St Enda’s)
1) I can’t complain as it gives plenty of time to get the body ready and build up a good base of fitness before returning collectively.
2) I think it’s a good thing in terms of knowing when the championship will be, but for the short term when restrictions ease, a few starred games could surely be arranged.
3) The CCC have done an excellent job in the circumstances to accommodate the games. And again, a clear guidance of when league games and championship will be played is always a big help.
4) My hope for this year is to be the best we can be and make up for the past few years where we exited the championship early.
Mark Carson (Greencastle)
1) Speaking personally, lockdown has had its ups and downs. There has been a lot more family time especially at weekends, but it was also tough trying to find the motivation to get out training not knowing when football will commence again.
2) The revised calendar is welcome but still adds a little uncertainty to club players. But with the weeks passing and summer fast approaching, we can only hope Tyrone club football will soon be back in full flow again.
3) Full credit to the Tyrone CCC last year as the structure was brilliant under difficult circumstances. I would, however, suggest they change the league structure so the top two in each group progress to semi-finals before the final. With regards to the championship, I think I speak for every one in Tyrone when I say it was the most enjoyable club championship in many years.
4) Challenging for silverware is always the aim for Greencastle, and this year will be no different.
Seán Murphy (Galbally Pearses)
1) The latest lockdown for me personally was a lot tougher than the first one, The first lockdown was easier to take as there was huge uncertainty around the whole virus. One year on we aren’t really any further on with anything, businesses are still shut down, football still affected and you can’t even go anywhere to ease that frustration such as weekend breaks, etc.
I have been trying to focus on personal development in this time such as creating good habit routines that I can really benefit from when everything opens up again. I have been making the most of a difficult situation. It’s been extremely frustrating for all the Galbally lads as I’m sure it has been for any GAA player. You can’t do anything really bar wait for any openings from an inept government, We have been biding our time and trying to keep things ticking over with road running and with home gyms/home workouts although it’s become very monotonous; Everyone has been chomping at the bit to get back.
2) There is still a lack of clarity regarding the whole thing. Are they making club players wait another five months before they can play competitive games? If this is the case then it’s ridiculous but it would come at no great shock. Granted it is extremely hard to please everyone but there are more club players than county players. There are going to be a lot more players disappointed with the decision to play it county-first. County football is obviously huge but in terms of where the nation is and how deprived GAA players have been of football, they got this one wrong in my opinion.
3) I feel Tyrone CCC did their best and managed it well last year, so they deserve credit for fitting in a great season in the short time frame given. It was a superb club championship for entertainment. My main issue with the Tyrone CCC is how they manage fixtures. It’s Sunday games year in, year out. This leaves all club players with a restricted weekend. Why not play the games on a Friday night or Saturday night? Give the boys a day off on a Sunday to enjoy with their family or partners. It’s a simple switch the whole that the county is crying out for and it’s constantly overlooked.
4) My hope for all Tyrone club players is that we are given a respectful, structured season that is worth the wait. In terms of Galbally, I hope we can build on our last two seasons and kick on from where we were. We have a huge bunch of very talented players; we all know our potential and how far we can go.
Its a really tough division but we want to compete and win the major honours. The good and bad thing about Tyrone Division One is that every club goes into each season thinking the same thing as what I’ve just said. We want to give a great account of ourselves and we will see where it takes us.