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Rian O'Neill: 'I've appreciated the time away and found I'm focusing on the bigger picture'


Rian O'Neill

Rian O'Neill

Rian O'Neill

Rian O'Neill

�INPHO/Donall Farmer

Jim Stynes

Jim Stynes

�INPHO/James Crombie

Rian O'Neill

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 Armagh's Rian O'Neill who has propelled himself into the ranks of Ulster's elite gaelic footballers and is destined to enjoy a lengthy career in the county jersey.

Q: How are you keeping?

A: I am in great form. Obviously life can be difficult from time to time but I try to ensure that things don't get on top of me. I like to stay as positive as I can.

Q: How have you been affected?

A:It has seen a halt called to county squad training but I totally appreciate the health and safety arrangements that are involved in this. I am a student at Dundalk IT and I have assignments that I am currently undertaking at home. This keeps me busy and also allows me to have a structured programme during the day.

Q: How are you keeping fit?

A: I go for runs with my brother Oisin and try to stay in the best shape possible. When you are not training with the team, you have to drive yourself on but I don't mind doing this. I like to keep challenging myself. Your health is your wealth after all.

Q: How are you maintaining morale, yours and the team?

A: I stay positive because I think you can get the best out of yourself if you do this. I always try to keep looking ahead and the prospect of football at club level maybe returning in the not too distant future encourages me greatly because I like nothing better than playing. In terms of my studies, I try to put the best effort into things that I can and I get satisfaction from knowing that I am giving it my best shot.

Q: Where are you drawing your personal strength from now?

A: I look around me and I see elderly folk just trying to get on with their lives and this gives me great heart. They maybe have to fend for themselves but they set a tremendous example to the rest of us. Then there are the doctors, nurses and others in the health service throughout the country as a whole that are doing outstanding work and in the process encouraging the rest of us to take a leaf from their book.

Q: Can you recommend a book, film or box set you think stay at home sports fans might enjoy?

A: I think 'My Journey', the autobiography of former Dublin footballer Jim Stynes, who died from cancer is a very moving, compelling story that encapsulates a life well lived. It makes for great reading even if you know nothing about sport. Jim's success in Australian Rules Football and his career outside the sport are charted in detail. I also think that 'Batman' is a hugely entertaining film, a thoroughly enjoyable form of escapism. In terms of a box-set, I think I would have to go for 'Love Hate', the gripping RTE series that proved such a big hit.

Q: What life lessons are you learning from this?

A: Without being flippant, I suppose I could say that I have learned to cook a little bit but then must do is a good master. I have also come to appreciate time spent away from studies and the training ground. I find that I am focussing on the big picture more and I have certainly taken on board the problems that people the world over have had to shoulder because of the coronavirus.

Q: What is the first thing you will do when this is all over?

A: I think I would like to go for a bit of a holiday although with flights likely to be limited I might find that I will have to settle for a break somewhere here in Ireland. If I manage to get a break, I then plan to launch myself fully into training with both Armagh and Crossmaglen Rangers in the hope that this will lead to more success.

Q: And what message would have for Armagh fans?

A: I think the big thing for us would be to try and clinch promotion to Division One of the league if we get the opportunity to fulfil our two outstanding Division Two fixtures against Roscommon and Clare. That might be a big 'if' at this point in time but I would also hope that we will get to play our Ulster Championship quarter-final tie against Derry. Armagh followers are among the best in the country and I just want to ask them to keep faith in us as players.

Belfast Telegraph