Stepping away from Kerry, Griffin aware of everything he’s giving up

Stepping away from Kerry, Griffin aware of everything he’s giving up

In ‘stepping away’, as he puts it, from the Kerry football panel, Mark Griffin knows precisely what he is giving up: the jersey he eyed ambitiously since he was eight.

Confirmation from the 28-year-old St Michael’s Foilmore man to Examiner Sport that he is taking a break from the inter-county treadmill in 2020 mightn’t trigger a news tremor, because he wasn’t central to Kerry’s September journey this year.

But his commitment was every bit as full and sustained as Peter Keane’s frontliners in 2019.

So why is he taking a break “for the foreseeable future”?

“The time and commitment involved, work being very busy and planning to do some travelling in the new year. Factors that led to me pulling away from it.”

And, he accepts, frustration at his championship bit part this year.

“I felt I didn’t have as much of an impact on the championship,” he agrees.

“When you weigh that against the other reasons I mentioned, you begin to wonder whether you can square those against the commitment you’re giving.”

Griffin elaborated: “The time required at inter-county level is phenomenal and definitely increasing these past couple of years.

"It’s actually unquantifiable how much time you put into it, because even when you are not at training, you are constantly looking after recovery, nutrition, and mentally preparing for the next session.

“I work with a German company, Enercon, as a project manager and that requires me to travel abroad now and then.

"But the day is gone where you can miss Kerry training if you’ve got something else on — even if it is work related.

“Ultimately when you miss training, you are the one who loses out. The excuse of ‘I’ve got work’ is gone.

"That doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s your own fault if you’re not at training. You are only letting yourself down then.

If you can’t go at 100% all the time, you are wasting your time and people will get ahead of you.

The chattering classes had it that Griffin could be a surprise bolter for the All-Ireland final against Dublin.

He was going well in training, having overcome the disappointment of being excluded from the squads for the final Super 8 game against Meath and the All-Ireland semi-final against Tyrone.

Was it an effort to lift himself back into contention after those disappointments?

“You have to be professional in that regard. That’s what you signed up to. There is no guarantee it is going to go your way, especially with the level of competition in the Kerry squad.

“It can be frustrating — you are restricted from work and your personal life but not getting what you want out of your Kerry commitment.

"You just can’t let those thoughts creep in during the season. But when I look back and review the year, I wasn’t happy with what I contributed.

“I got decent time. I featured quite prominently in the earlier part of the championship. And I made a sub appearance in the drawn All-Ireland final, but it wasn’t significant.

I don’t think I was in the conversation to start, but on the basis of training I had the feeling I was in the mix for some game time somewhere in the middle eight.

"I had been training at centre-back and midfield was an option as well, depending on how the game was going.

“But I’ve made a decision now. People don’t realise that in Kerry, we now go to the county championship (South Kerry face St Kieran’s in the quarter-final this weekend), and after that the South Kerry championship which rolls on into Christmas.

"I’ve been playing that every season since 18.

“I’m 28 now and haven’t had a prolonged break from football for a decade. I need to recharge.

"I’ve gotten some time off work and I’ll use it to travel to Australia and New Zealand. I won’t be around for the league and whether I return after that is in Peter Keane’s hands.

"If Kerry call me, I wouldn’t be slow to answer the call.”

He says the leaving of Kerry is “an extremely difficult decision — not one you take lightly at all. It has been a privilege to wear the jersey”.

“At the same time, there’s a long, long slog throughout the year that people don’t see. That had to be weighed up as well.

"I wasn’t in the picture this year as much as I wanted to be. When I get back? That’s another conversation, if there is one to be had.

“I’m not 29 til next year, so I wouldn’t rule it out. I’ve never felt in better condition.”

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