We are asking our sporting personalities how they are dealing with action coming to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has affected their daily lives.
Today, we speak to Cricket Ireland performance coach and Carrickfergus all-rounder Ryan Eagleson.
Q: How are you keeping?
A: I’m doing well, thanks, no issues. I have a nine-year-old so I’m doing some home schooling. We do two to three hours a day with a break in the middle, but it’s getting to the stage where I just want to get back out and into my cricket again.
Q: How have you been affected?
A: Well, I’m still doing the essential shopping — my wife, Justine, suffered a serious brain injury some years ago and no longer works, but thankfully she is coping okay. Carrick were supposed to have played two games already, against North Down and Woodvale, both at home, and the ground is looking fantastic so the guys are chomping at the bit to get going. Sometimes in July/August you would get totals of 300-350 at Carrick, but after this dry spell it would have been 300-350 in April!
Q: How are you keeping fit?
A: We got a dog about two years ago and we go out as a family for our daily walk. I have also done a couple of 5k runs to keep the knees and body ticking over.
Q: How are you maintaining morale, yours and the team?
A: Like most teams, I suppose, the Carrick boys have a Zoom group and I would do a Zoom quiz on a Sunday night — general knowledge, cricket, other sports, a picture round etc. My day job with the Cricket Ireland Academy boys involves a Zoom call on a Monday to do fitness training, on Wednesdays there is a catch-up on Zoom, usually with our sports psychologist, and on Fridays there are Irish masterclasses when we pick a particular game and invite one of the players to come in and talk through it. We have already had Andrew Balbirnie, the Ireland captain, Barry McCarthy, George Dockrell and last week Paul Stirling talking about his 130 against Bangladesh at Clontarf last year. It gets the guys thinking about international cricket and hopefully some of them will step up, to ensure it will not be a surprise for them.
Q: Where are you drawing your personal strength from now?
A: It’s just nice to spend time with the family. The nature of the job means in the winter I could be out three or four nights a week anywhere from Bready to Malahide to Jordanstown and there is a lot of weekend work as well. At this time of the year, it’s normally virtually non-stop, of course. Last night my son and I actually camped out in the back garden, something he had always wanted to do.
Q: Sports fans are staying at home, too. Can you recommend a book, film or box set you think they might like?
A: I’ve just finished watching ‘The Test’, about the Australian cricket team on Amazon, and am watching a lot of Star Wars stuff with my son. The current box set I am watching is ‘Ozark’ on Netflix. I’m not much of a reader.
Q: What life lessons are you learning from this?
A: We took everything for granted and now that everything has stopped, you realise the important things in life. We are complaining because we can’t get out and asking, ‘When is this going to open?’ but your health is most important and the things we enjoy, whether it’s football or cricket and socialising, will happen again.
Q: What is the first thing you will do when all this is over?
A: When out for my daily walk, I pass by Carrickfergus Golf Club and it’s in absolutely fantastic condition so I would love to get out for a round. They say that could be one of the first sports to come back, so it will be great to get back on the course. It’ll also be good to see my parents face to face again. At the moment I can only talk to them over the fence.
Q: Do you have a message to the club’s supporters?
A: Follow the guidelines. We are all missing cricket, especially in this weather, but hang in there and there is still plenty of time to get some cricket in. The season can go on until the end of September, which has seen good weather, so even if we start end of July or August we can get something in.