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Kelly Mallon: 'It's important to appreciate what we do have, not complain about what we don't'


Kelly Mallon

Kelly Mallon

Kelly Mallon in action

Kelly Mallon in action

Kelly Mallon

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 talk to Armagh ladies gaelic football captain Kelly Mallon, who also captains Madden camogie club and holds a record eight All Ireland senior road bowls titles. Kelly is a community development officer with Armagh-Banbridge-Craigavon Council.

Q: How are you keeping?

A: I'm keeping really well. My family and friends are all healthy and well so that's the main thing and there's plenty of company at home. I've a brother who has cystic fibrosis so has to be especially careful and that's a reminder the guidelines need to be taken seriously and no-one should ignore them or become complacent.

Q: How have you been affected?

A: The virus has had a massive impact on my day-to-day life, like everyone else. With playing three sports, I'm so used to a hectic lifestyle - going to work, then training afterwards and playing games at the weekend. I'd normally have fixed sporting commitments seven days a week, so with everything at a standstill I've a lot more time to myself. I can do my ABC Council community development job from home so I'm working during the day and training in the evenings and at weekends like before but it's so different as I'm not out and about having direct contact with colleagues and team-mates. This month would have seen a road bowls competition in Germany as well as a couple of championship matches for Armagh, but it has all been wiped out.

Q: How are you keeping fit?

A: My brothers and I have kitted the garage out as a makeshift gym, I would be totally lost without it. I've been lucky to have Timmy Graham overseeing my S&C programmes for a few years so I'm staying in touch with him. My managers in Armagh Harps have been sending out some running conditioning weekly with the emphasis on fun sessions, so I've been doing that and I try to implement some skills drills into those sessions. Because I've always been rushing from one sport to another and never really had a full period of off-season, I've some time now to work on things that I never had time to do before.

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

A: Armagh should have been playing our opening Ulster Senior Championship match against Monaghan this weekend, which would have been a big game for us. Now it's looking like there may be no more inter-county football this year. Up until now, we've been keeping in touch through Zoom, including nutritional workshops, sports psychology and yoga sessions. The Madden camogs and Armagh Harps footballers are staying in touch through WhatsApp and the odd Zoom. As captain of two of my teams, I try to check in with players and make sure they're ok.

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

A: Armagh GAA held a remote 'skills challenge' which lasted a month during lockdown with over 40 players taking part. It was a lot of fun and captured people's imaginations in the absence of sport. They even got RTE's Marty Morrissey to do the commentary. I came second, the only female to make the final, and there was a lot of feedback online. It was something enjoyable but competitive for a few weeks. Improvisation is important at this time. Although missing the social aspect to my sports, I'm also seeing this strange period as an opportunity to improve myself physically and in other ways and I can still have structured days.

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

A: My Armagh team-mate Aoife McCoy recommended Homeland. I'm addicted and making my way through the series. My brother is obsessed with the Michael Jordan docu-series, The Last Dance, and I've started it as well. It's excellent.

Q: What life lessons are you learning from this?

A: Not to take the small pleasures in life for granted, to make the most of situations and treat this period, which won't last forever, as a time of opportunity rather than dwelling on what I'm missing. I've enjoyed time to myself, family time and socially distanced chats with neighbours around the roads. It's important to appreciate what we have rather than complain about what we can't do.

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

A: Give my Granny Susie, who normally travels everywhere to support me, a big hug.

Q: And your message to sports fans?

A: Try not to see everything associated with this lockdown as a negative; find something in your life or sport that could be improved and use your extra time to work on that while we're waiting to get back playing and watching sport. Having a structured day and working out why I'm doing what I do, day in day out, are also two very important elements for me.

Belfast Telegraph