Defending Westmeath senior football champions, Garrycastle, may not have the opportunity to retain the Flanagan Cup this calendar year such is the impact of COVID-19 on the many facets of daily life.
With GAA being one such sport which unifies communities, Garrycastle manager (a role he shares with Gary Dolan ), John Keane, remains hopeful that there will be competitive club football action prior to the end of 2020.
“You can’t argue with the decisions taken by both the Government and the HSE to date. The health and safety of all those within our local communities has to come first and sport can return when it is ultimately safe to do so,” John remarked.
Having played one league fixture prior to the cessation of games (a draw with Tang ), Garrycastle trained on the Tuesday night prior to the imposition of lockdown restrictions with each player adhering to relevant health and safety protocols.
“You miss that sense of unity of purpose, the camaraderie which we would have as a squad - in essence, you miss training with an ultimate goal in mind. As a management we are maintaining regular contact with the squad just to make sure they are all healthy and managing their fitness levels should a return to competitive action emanate,” John added.
With no football to take place under GAA jurisdiction until at least October and playing facilities out of bounds until July, maintaining a sense of focus for club players can be of concern.
“The players all realise that there is a bigger picture in our society than sport at the moment. They have a fitness regime to follow and know that we are here for them as a management team and as friends also,” John commented.
Remaining optimistic that the playing squad may be able to meet in small groups for training purposes as July elapses, John is off the impression that this possible realisation would enhance motivation levels, affording a “finish line in sight” feel to competitive football action preparations.
“Should there be a championship this year it is hard to know the format which it will take, we maybe looking at a knockout competition, but I am of the view that club football will return prior to intercounty action.
“I am optimistic by nature and hopefully, we are afforded the opportunity to retain our senior title before the calendar year concludes,” John enthused.