Kerry minor football manager James Costello has spoken about how lost his players were during the lockdown.
The St Patrick’s, Blennerville man reported that the possibility of missing out on what might be their only opportunity to don the green and gold was upsetting for some of them before it was confirmed the Munster MFC will go ahead later this year.
“We divided them into groups and a member of management would have been in touch with them every week to see how they were doing,” said Costello, “and we gave them individual programmes like body weight exercises but more from a mental health point of view to get them out of the house and active.
“I do think they found it tough. What was hanging over some of their heads was the idea that the whole thing was going to be scrapped and they just saw their one chance possibly at wearing the county jersey evaporating and that weighed heavy on a few of their shoulders.
“A senior player generally has the chance of next year but that obviously isn’t the case for all at minor level so we were glad when we got the news that it looks like it’s going to go ahead later in the year.”
The lack of engagement and social interaction was onerous for some panel members too, says Costello. “Players no doubt have had it tough but especially minors because most would be in transition year and they were let go almost as soon as the schools were closed at the start of March. They had no schoolwork coming in and that was difficult.
“A few of our gang were working on farms and they were happy doing that but some lads, who would have both parents working, would have been stuck at home all day with nothing to do or interactions with their friends. They were basically locked up and wouldn’t see a sinner from 8:30 in the morning to 6:30 in the evening.
“So we had a duty of care to them and we provided that with home programmes and stuff like that. Now you’re waiting to get a picture on what happens at county level and the amount of football they will be playing and some guidance on what we can and cannot do with them.”
Munster GAA's competitions control committee are set to provide that following confirmation of the All-Ireland dates from the Central Competitions Control Committee next week.
Ahead of what was to be a provincial MFC phase two clash against Cork in Austin Stack Park, Costello was pleased with the team’s preparations. Whatever format the competition takes later this year, he won’t have to do much to motivate his charges.
“We actually had a lot done up to when they started so we were very happy with where we were. It was the first year when the schools moving to U19s really kicked in so the minors were largely unaffected by Corn Uí Mhuirí football. So we had a good bank of work done with them.
“We’re champing at the bit now and can’t wait to get back on the pitch with them and they’re of the same view. When you’re training two or three times a week together they just miss the group.
“We still have to decide the format of the minor championship in Kerry. It has been U18 but coming into line with national guidelines it was moving to U17 next year so will it now be a case of bringing that forward to this year? We have to wait and see.”