As the foreseeable absence of competitive action from local GAA playing fields abounds, Athlone and Westmeath senior footballer, Noel Mulligan, spoke of the present pandemic situation with the likelihood of club and intercounty championships proceeding still very much uncertain despite the phased programme for lockdown exit announced by Government.
In a pre-COVID-19 routine of training ensemble with club and county colleagues, Noel is presently maintaining his fitness levels as he awaits a return to the sanctuary of the pre-match dressing room and a semblance of playing normality.
“Training individually, there is that additional need to maintain motivation until the day arrives when we can return to training as a football squad at both intercounty and club level,” Noel remarked.
Laden with variation, Noel, who captained Athlone to the Intermediate fooball championship in 2015, ensuring a swift return to the senior playing ranks for the county’s most successful club, is the thrice weekly recipient of detailed training plans from the Westmeath football management aimed at optimum fitness levels maintenance during this period of lockdown.
“Predominantly running orientated, the training plans enable a sense of competitive fitness to be maintained with distances ranging from five kilometres to ten kilometres covered on a regular basis. There are also relevant sessions involving free weights and core work so the variation aids the motivation process,” Noel added.
Similarly, with Athlone, a WhatsApp group permeates the playing squad, with training sessions outlined in detailed as the club aims to banish the memory of senior championship 2019, which saw no victories attained and demotion to Group 2 of the round robin phase.
“Emmet Egan is very much to the fore in this regard as part of the management team and with the squad posting images of their workouts it strengthens the team spirit also,” Noel continued.
Former All-Star footballer, Liam McHale is now at the Athlone managerial helm, a prominent appointment in local GAA circles, it is hoped that his playing and coaching experience will enhance the chances of a knockout phase appearance by the Pairc Chiarain based club should senior championship 2020 proceed.
“Liam has been a huge addition to the club and his experience can only bode for well should a competitive championship commence. From speaking with the squad, there is a sense of positive anticipation. Add in the playing knowledge of club stalwart, Fergal Murray and John Egan, as selectors, and it augurs well for the future,” Noel concluded.