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What 30 GAA personalities are most excited about come the return to action

 

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Testing the water: Antrim hurler Neil McManus looks forward to a post-training dip in Red Bay

Testing the water: Antrim hurler Neil McManus looks forward to a post-training dip in Red Bay

�INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Neil McManus

Neil McManus

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

Lenny Harbinson (Antrim manager)

Lenny Harbinson (Antrim manager)

�INPHO/Declan Roughan

Paddy Cunningham (Antrim and Lamh Dhearg player)

Paddy Cunningham (Antrim and Lamh Dhearg player)

Chris McCann (Westminster communications, former GAA journalist)

Chris McCann (Westminster communications, former GAA journalist)

Testing the water: Antrim hurler Neil McManus looks forward to a post-training dip in Red Bay

With lockdown in place for the foreseeable future, we invited dozens of people involved in Gaelic games to live out their fantasy of what is the very first thing they might do on the day the sporting suspension is lifted.

Here is what they said:

Enda McGinley (former Tyrone All-Ireland winner, now Swatragh manager)

Arrange a training session with Swatragh. View carefully the various shapes of players that arrive back out onto the pitch and how many are avoiding tight jerseys. Throw in a ball and let them go at it for an hour to blow off steam.

All the careful season-long preparation regarding game plans and team development will be scrapped, replaced by loads of match-based training games.

Conor Deegan (former Down All-Ireland winner, nowUnder-20 manager)

A catch-up with the management of the Under-20s - good lads, missing the craic, and get plans in place. Backs on forwards, getting tight and tore into each other with no social distancing!

Brendan Rasdale (Derrygonnelly Harps joint-manager)

Straight to the pitch. The lads will be mad for it... warm up, quick bit of ball work, match! Then a challenge match against anyone two days later.

Sunday morning footy at Canon Maguire Park, need to get the Under-6s going straight away. Then muscle my way onto Harps Thirds as goalie or No.15. Then sell a few Harps lottos.

Steven Doherty (Derry journalist)

I suppose the more prosaic stuff of taking my son and daughter to training up at our local club, Doire Colmcille, or going down to watch my home club Glack play their first game under their new gaffer, my brother Simon.

But what I'm really looking forward to is another road trip to watch Derry footballers. We've one more away league fixture against Offaly at O'Connor Park. We go to most away games but the North Derry ultras have yet to do an overnight. That's going to change. We're going to rip the backside out of this one - cheap hotel, cowboy suppers, pints of Offaly's finest stout and guitars.

Conor McManus (Monaghan footballer)

I'd say take the bag of O'Neill's footballs with me and head for the field in Clontibret.

Cathal McGarry (Hurling club chair and coach)

First thing will be a simple puck about with my brothers at my parents' house.

Paul Fitzpatrick (Handballer and Cavan-based journalist)

I will get my paws on a handball, even if it's an old dead one from last year, and I will tog out and go to my local handball alley in Virginia, take the key from the hiding place and spend an hour just hitting the ball on my own and savour every second of it.

Steven Poacher (Down minor coach)

Chances are it will be to take a pitch session with the young lads after school in St Joseph's, and on the same evening probably coach our county minors or Bryansford seniors!

Sean O'Sullivan (former Kerry All-Ireland winner)

I coach in our local primary school a couple of mornings a week and really miss the kids, so first thing I hope to do is get them all to the field to run a skills session and a blitz. I'll get a few of our senior team to come along as coaches - get them all, actually.

Lenny Harbinson (Antrim manager)

Organise a good old fashioned face-to-face training session.

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Lenny Harbinson (Antrim manager)

Lenny Harbinson (Antrim manager)

�INPHO/Declan Roughan

Lenny Harbinson (Antrim manager)

 

Ryan Bogue (hurler, Cormac McAnallen's club, Sydney)

I look forward to getting back out to Ingleburn (Sydney), three pitches going all day. Place full of Irish imports, playing with a crowd of lads from all over Ireland, some with All-Ireland medals. The sun splitting the trees, covered in sun cream, Club Orange, southern Tayto and southern chocolate behind the counter in the shop.

Colm Bradley (former Fermanagh footballer, Belnaleck manager)

Take training... but go down early and kick some points myself. I have lost over a stone and plan to have more gone by the time that happens!

Joe McMahon (Tyrone All-Ireland winner, Fermanagh coach)

Greet everyone with a handshake at training, before lording it at the crossbar challenge before starting.

Aidan McElroy (Clogher Eire Óg, coach and statistician)

I will take my three children to the club pitch and let them run wild for as long as they want.

Eunan Lindsay (former Tyrone county board vice-chair, Glenelly club)

Back to play for the reserves and maybe even go to training before it!

Ed Byrne (Donegal county board)

Fit as many adult club games into 2020 as possible!

Kevin Cassidy (Gaoth Dobhair player, former Donegal ace)

Pull on my size 10 Puma Kings for the first time since last year's county final and make my way to the pitch for some shooting practice.

Paddy Cunningham (Antrim and Lamh Dhearg player)

Go to my club pitch with a bag of balls and kick a pile of points. I have been seeing a summer's day in my head so let's hope weather doesn't let me down.

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Paddy Cunningham (Antrim and Lamh Dhearg player)

Paddy Cunningham (Antrim and Lamh Dhearg player)

Paddy Cunningham (Antrim and Lamh Dhearg player)

 

John O'Neill (Aghaloo O'Neill's clubman)

Hopefully go to see Aghaloo play a league game at home on a sunny Saturday evening. More likely attend a meeting though.

Ronan Gallagher (Fermanagh goalkeeping coach)

Straight out onto the pitch kicking!

Chris McCann (Westminster communications, former GAA journalist)

Travel home for a week and watch every minute of football I can.

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Chris McCann (Westminster communications, former GAA journalist)

Chris McCann (Westminster communications, former GAA journalist)

Chris McCann (Westminster communications, former GAA journalist)

 

When I was home last Easter I was leaving my wife off to her sister's up in Derry where they were going to a spa. On the way I noticed two schools teams warming up at Faughanvale's ground. I didn't know who the teams were but I knew in an instant I was going to stop and watch the game on the way back. So I dropped Bronagh off at Orla's house and got straight back into the car and pulled over to watch the game. It turned out to be a fourth year colleges game between St Columb's, Derry and Loreto Coleraine.

It was a Wednesday afternoon in April and everyone else I knew was at work. I had nowhere I needed to be... it was a beautiful day and the Vale pitch sits right on the shore of Lough Foyle, it's like something out of a Jack B Yeat painting. It was an hour of complete contentment for me.

I even got to reminisce about a goal I scored in a reserve championship game on that field. Basically I want to see if I can recreate a moment a bit like that, something a world away from hunkering down through a pandemic in North London.

Jarlath Burns (former Armagh captain, Silverbridge secretary)

I look forward to the warm Sundays and watching the senior team play. We all stand along the wall and clarify the relevant matters of the world while studying the match and judging the referee.

Liam Óg Hinphey (Derry hurler)

The length of the postponement will directly affect whether I'll be a player or spectator when the pandemic passes.

The one activity I will definitely be doing is taking my wee girl Cara and niece Hannah to Under-6 camogie training.

Greg O'Kane (former Antrim hurler, Dunloy manager)

I would go down to the pitch for a puck around with the kids and just meet and chat to anyone who's there.

Tomás Colton (Eoghan Ruadh hurling coach)

Get my U14 team to the field as soon as possible. On reflection, I will probably take our lads away for the day to Gweedore or somewhere. No hurls. They are probably sick of the hurls at this stage!

Shane O'Neill (Tyrone fan)

Go to a local match up the road, but this time well before half-time and pay in.

Ryan McCluskey (former Fermanagh player, Beragh manager)

I'm going to hang each and every club and county top that I have collected over the years in my workplace.

I am very proud to have represented and learned life lessons from the sport and feel that it has gone a long way in shaping my life's path.

Neil McManus (Antrim and Cushendall hurler)

Go down to the sea at Red Bay with the Cushendall team for some cold water recovery after our first training session back.

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Neil McManus

Neil McManus

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

Neil McManus

 

Paul Hughes (St Pat's, Maghera and Derrytresk club manager)

Hang over the wire at the club pitch and watch any football activity going on - and walk out on the pitch afterwards to pat them all on the back.

Dick Clerkin (former Monaghan footballer)

Bring my boys into Dermot McDermott's sports shop in Monaghan and buy them new Monaghan tracksuits.

Belfast Telegraph