Kneesy does it for the elder statesman of Ballincollig

When he was putting in top-class performances on a regular basis for Aston Villa and Ireland, Paul McGrath’s inability to train tended to attract wide-eyed wonder.

Kneesy does it for the elder statesman of Ballincollig

The conventional wisdom was that he’d be even better if he could train, when in reality it was the careful management of his issues that allowed him to peak in matches. For Ballincollig’s John Miskella, it has been something similar for the past few seasons.

Miskella (36) will represent his club in tomorrow’s Cork SFC final against Carbery Rangers in Páirc Uí Chaoimh (3.45pm) two years after he, and everybody else, thought that he had retired.

“I retired from Cork after the 2011 season,” he says, “my body was shot and I was told to pack it in. In 2012, we had a very good run at the start of the year but then a few fellas went away to America and I went back hurling just to help them out as we were finding it hard to field teams.

“I took a massive break and I changed my training methods. I couldn’t cope with the intensity of the intercounty scene anymore and that was the big thing, really, I had absolutely no time to recover.

“I took six or seven months off and then played a game every two weeks. I didn’t even enjoy it that much, I was struggling a bit, but this year it has sorted itself out. I’m still picking and choosing my games and training sessions but I’m getting through it.”

Throughout Ballincollig’s run, Miskella has worn the number 15 shirt, but the left corner is not the place to find him. A roving brief has suited him and it has shown.

“I haven’t enjoyed a year playing football better than this year, it has been absolutely fantastic,” he says. “I’m aware if I get any bad injury it could be the finishing of me, so I’m thrilled to be still here and able to do a job, that’s the main thing.”

In 1999, Miskella was a greenhorn on a team which lost to UCC in the semi-finals. Little did he think it would be 15 years before he would experience the last four again.

“I thought we’d kick on from there but we didn’t, even though we had some very good players,” he says.

“We just never seemed to back up one performance after another, that was the problem. This year, we have come under the radar and the attitude is fantastic. We’ve been underdogs in our games for a reason, history would dictate that.

“This year, we’ve kept everything very quiet, nobody’s getting too hyped up with anything and it’s worked fantastically. Every training session has been very intense and we’ve improved as the months went on. We’ve had a couple of dodgy performances too but they’ve been one-offs.”

With characters throughout the team, it means Miskella can be a leader without having to overdo it.

“In defence, you have Noel Galvin, Steve O’Donoghue and Liam Jennings, they’re all massive leaders, and then the Kellys, Pa and John, are leaders in attack. It’s the one thing this year, there are leaders everywhere so there doesn’t have to be much talking done by me. I might say a few words here and there but I wouldn’t be overly vocal. I’d leave that to the management and I think that has worked out this year.”

As a garda based in Clonakilty, working hours can be varied but it is something which can be used as an advantage.

“The way that it’s worked out, I have to pick and choose my games and training anyway,” he says. “When I’m working, the games and training that I’m missing are ones that I need to miss. My job has been very good to me, I don’t think there’s any hassle getting off for a game here or there if I need to.

“Rest is needed too. It’s probably something I didn’t do enough when I was playing with Cork, but it’s forced on me now and that’s a good thing.”

With work and football, there’s not much time for anything else but Miskella isn’t complaining.

“It is tough, but it’s a privilege,” he says. “This is my social scene, coming down here on a Tuesday or a Thursday and I absolutely look forward to it, especially this year.

“My kids are playing with Ballincollig and they love it too.”

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