How are our footballers coping without football? This week Adam Moynihan spoke to Dr Crokes forward Daithí Casey about missing his teammates, staying fit at home and his thoughts on how the season might play out after the lockdown

 

Well Daithí. These are strange times that we’re living in. How are you coping with the lockdown?

The hardest part for me is just not seeing my teammates as much. That’s the part I miss the most – not being able to go to training and just talk to the lads face to face.

Obviously there are a few teammates that you’d still keep in contact with, your best friends on the team, but I wouldn’t ring certain players even though we’d be good friends. There are 30 guys on the panel and you’re not going to be ringing all of them, so not seeing them or talking to them is tough.

But it’s important not to be meeting fellas now because of the stage we’re at. It’s obviously vital that we stay indoors.

 

Has the suspension of GAA activities highlighted how important local clubs are in our community?

Yeah, that’s the thing about football: it brings people together. It’s a way for 30 different fellas from all different age groups to come together and meet up but, as I said, I haven’t talked to a good few of my teammates recently, and that’s hard.

And it’s bigger than that. Fr Paddy does the cards there in the Crokes clubhouse and stuff like the lotto, they’re small things but they make a huge difference socially. I’m sure it’s the same at every club. Not having that social element is hard for everyone. But at the end of the day, our physical well-being is the most important thing.

 

Players had been training individually or in small groups up until recently but GAA grounds have now been officially shut. How are you managing to stay in shape?

The Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) stuff is absolutely brilliant. I find him very good so I’m just doing sessions of his on YouTube. I started doing pilates as well last Christmas. These are things that I wouldn’t normally be doing during the season but they’re good for the moment. I’m trying to do a bit of running and skills work, and it’s good for the mental health to get out in the fresh air, but it’s hard when there’s no end goal in sight.

I’m actually like a 10-year-old out the back of the house. Kicking around in the garden on my own, practicing my soloing. I’ll have to draw a little goal on the wall.

That’s the one thing that I do like about this whole situation. Everyone is back to being a child in that regard and creativity is going through the roof, especially with all the quizzes and challenges going around. Alan Kelly’s Isolation XI is absolutely hilarious.

 

It’s brilliant in fairness to him! You mentioned goals. Is it difficult to keep that focus when you don’t know how long it’ll take to get back out on the field, or what the competitions will look like when you do?

It is. We normally know what we’re training for. For example, we’d normally be training hard in July for championship in August or September. The same in January, you’re training for the Club Championship in April. There’s none of that at the moment, so it’s challenging to push yourself as hard as you’d like.

I don’t know what they’ll do as regards restructuring but I’d imagine they’ll get rid of the County Championship and play the Club Championships instead. I think that’s probably the best option.

I’m only guessing but I’d imagine the earliest we’ll be back playing championship football will be September because even if we’re allowed back training in July, then the intercounty will probably come first and it’ll be County League for clubs.

What will they do for intercounty? Will they have 40,000 people at a Munster final? It’s hard to know what ‘normal’ will look like when we get back to it.

 

Premier League clubs are talking about playing their remaining fixtures behind closed doors over the course of a few weeks, with all of the games being televised. Could that work in the GAA?

That’s an option, but in the GAA you’re taking fellas from all different parts of the county and getting them to train together, and then they’re going back to their families and their towns. It’s maybe a bit more feasible at a professional level, and even then it’s not that easy at all really.

They probably do need to get the Premier League in particular finished… Well, obviously as a United fan I’d be delighted if Liverpool didn’t win the league.

 

And I’d be delighted if Villa didn’t get relegated. With no football to play and no sport on TV, how are you filling your time?

Well I’m working away from home (Daithí is a teacher at CBS Primary School, Tralee) so that’s keeping me busy during the week.

I don’t watch as much soccer as I used to anyway but sometimes it’s nice to just throw on Sky Sports News or the basketball or the golf on a Sunday evening. I think I’m more of a player than a spectator though, and that’s what I miss the most.

One thing I’m really enjoying is the fact the Crokes are putting up old games, going back to the nineties, on Facebook. Those are matches that I wouldn’t have watched before. It’s great to see so many fresh faces! And even our own games, the 2010 and 2011 finals… When you’re playing you don’t think about those things, so it’s nice to look back now and reflect on what you’ve achieved.

Having said that, I’d much rather be out there playing.

 

Is it important to stay positive in the current climate?

Yeah, I think it is. I’ve been trying to stay optimistic and in fairness I think Ireland as a nation is doing well so far. It’s just amazing that something like this has come about and stopped everything. It’s like someone has hit the reset button on the world and it’s back to square one.

If there’s something to take out of it, it’s that when this is over we’ll be a lot more positive and appreciative of simple things like meeting up with people or giving someone a hug – things that we took for granted in the past.

It’s obviously a pain for the next month or so but I think if everyone just does it right, we’ll be in a good place sooner rather than later.