The Shape I’m In - Mark McNulty: I still get goosebumps when Rocky is in the ring

OFF the pitch, footballer Mark McNulty is not what you’d expect. There’s hardly a sentence when the Cork City goalkeeper doesn’t mention his children.

FIT MAN: It's off-season but Cork City goalkeeper Mark McNulty still works out up to four times a week in the gym. Picture: Dan Linehan

To begin we get their names and ages sorted: Meghan, 13, twins Tess and Faye, seven, Mark, five, and Millie, eight months.

“My wife Therese works part-time, so I get the kids out to school in the morning. It’s nice that I can be there for them,” he says. “During the season we finish between 1pm and 1.30pm. It’s a massively family-friendly job. Obviously, when I’m away at European matches during the year, it can be quite tough on Therese.”

It’s been an outstanding year for the player. Cork City won the Premier Division, before making it a double when they beat Dundalk in the FAI Cup final.

And it’s no surprise that he has recently signed up for another two years with City. Aged 37, he’s challenging the belief that top-level players retire in their early 30s.

The reason for his longevity, he says, is down to luck and a remarkable almost injury-free career.

“In 17 years, I’ve only been out three weeks through injury. Obviously, I’m a very, very lucky person.”

It helps, of course, that he’s “doing something that I love”.

Riding on the crest of his two big wins, he intends to play the long game. “Right now, I hope to get another two-year contact when I’m 39. I feel young, fresh and fit. I could be playing well into my 40s. Age is just a number.”

What shape are you in?

After the Cup final, our strength and conditioning coach told us to do nothing until December 1. During the off season, the training schedule is different for different players. Three to four times a week, I’m in the gym for about an hour — mostly it’s weights and a little time on the treadmill. I’m a slight build — no matter how much I work out, I don’t pack on weight/ muscle.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

Breakfast is quick and easy — a smoothie. I put oats, bananas, strawberries, frozen fruit and a scoop of protein powder into a Nutribullet. It’s ideal when I’m running around trying to get the children out to school.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

A takeaway pizza on a Saturday night and watching a bit of TV.

What would keep you awake at night?

When I was younger, once I closed my eyes I’d never wake. But when it comes to the kids, everything seems to change. Mostly, though, I get a good night’s sleep.

 How do you relax?

I like all the Rocky movies. Even after watching the series a hundred times, I still get goosebumps when Rocky is in the ring. Also getting the children out for walks in the park or around Mahon Point.

Christmas is coming so myself and Therese are looking forward to bringing the children to see Santa. We’re going to Cork on Ice too.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

James Corden, he’d be good for banter and craic; team player Gearóid Morrissey, he’s the funniest man ever when we’re on a night out; my father Michael and wife Therese.

What’s your favourite smell?

We moved to a house in Frankfield recently and every morning when you open the front door there is a beautiful smell from a nearby factory — Ferrero Rocher. This morning it was like a strawberry scent. It’s an added bonus.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

My wife seems to be quite happy with the way I am. Once she’s happy, I’m happy.

When is the last time you cried?

When I heard that my best buddy is ill I got a lump in my throat. He’s a fighter and I hope he’ll be alright.

What traits do you least like in others?

I’m quite an easygoing person. But at times on the roads, you see drivers whipping in and out of lanes — I’ve got five children in the car and I’m aware that one mistake could cause a serious accident.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

I can let people take advantage of me. I feel bad if I don’t say yes.

Do you pray?

I would say a lot of prayers. In the mornings, I like to go for a walk with Millie and sometimes we go to Mass in Ballyphehane church. It’s lovely to sit down and relax. I always say a prayer for others.

What cheers up your day?

When the sun is out in the morning. If the sun shone 24/7 like it does in other countries just think how much happier we would be.

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