With Gaelic games in lockdown due to coronavirus, Sunday Life Sport has introduced a series with Armagh's All-Ireland winner and Crossmaglen legend Oisin McConville, chatting with 11 of the biggest names in the sport.
This week, it is the turn of David Givney, one of the most gifted players of his generation.
He burst on the scene as a 20-year-old and soon became the go-to man for his county, comfortable in midfield or as a corner forward. David became a household name and a marked man by teams across Ulster and beyond.
Work has taken him to London, where he is a quantity surveyor and lives with his girlfriend in Clapham, but football is still a big part of the Cavan man's life - he teamed up with club side Fulham Irish not long after moving.
Oisin: What’s it like living in London during the pandemic?
David: It’s not too bad. I’m working from home three days a week, so not having to do the two-and-a-half hour commute has helped. I’ve recently moved apartments and I’ve a big balcony, so with the weather being good, it definitely has made things much easier. The commute to the office and site twice a week is tough — it’s a Tube and bus journey.
Oisin: Do you feel safe travelling on the Tube?
David: I feel safe, but you can see that the Tube has got a lot busier in the last week. I did wear a mask to begin with, but I don’t anymore. I felt that, even if myself or my girlfriend get ill, we are young and relatively fit, so we should be okay. My mum is a nurse in Cavan General Hospital. She contracted Covid-19 and was in quarantine for two weeks, but luckily her symptoms were mild and she made a full recovery.
Oisin: Are you able to train?
David: I’m able to train away, yes. We are all using the Strava app and we are able to create some competition amongst the team that way. We have a guy called Aidan Savage who gets the outputs together. We do the best 5k or distance covered in 12 minutes. It’s working well and it’s a good way to build up for the season ahead, should it happen.
Oisin: How easy is it to combine working and playing?
David: There’s a real difference playing over here. It’s not as pressurised as it is at home — it’s just not taken as seriously here. We don’t start training until May, but at home you would have six months of pre-season (training) done. That’s what makes it 10 times more enjoyable. The standard has improved dramatically also.
Oisin: How much do you miss home?
David: Everyone misses home. For me, London is a means to an end. I’m 30 and the money is good here and the standard of living is good. I’m hoping to get enough money together to build a house. My plan is to go home and work from there.
Oisin: How has Fulham Irish helped you in all of this?
David: They’re brilliant. They’re very good at getting everyone together socially. Since lockdown, we’ve had a few events like online poker tournaments and quizzes. It all helps in this situation.
Oisin: What’s the major differences between playing at home and playing in London?
David: Well, when I started playing, I was playing with lads like Larry Reilly and Dermot McCabe, who were coming to the end of their careers, so I’ve seen both sides of it. The difference is crazy: the commitment has ramped up and the nutrition and the video analysis have gone through the roof. Some of the older heads maybe weren’t prepared for it. GPS plays a big part too. A lot of the analysis that’s used is used in-game and you’re conscious that if you’re not doing it, you won’t last.
Oisin: How tough is it playing for a team that’s struggling?
David: It’s tough. In Cavan, football is a religion, but my priorities have changed along the way and it is no longer as important to me. Family and work take a back seat and there is a huge amount of juggling to keep it all going. There is huge pressure from supporters. Playing for your county is the pinnacle and there are pressures to please them (supporters) and pressures to perform every day.
Oisin: What players are making their mark on the London scene right now?
David: Well, there is a guy from Armagh called Ben Crealey who trained with us last year and a London-born lad called Cillian Butler who is basically unmarkable over here.
Oisin: Will you ever return home to play again?
David: It’s always in the back of my mind. I am still in contact with Cavan lads like Raymond Galligan and would like to help my club Mountnugent, who invested in me when I was young. You never know what the next year will bring, so I won’t discount anything.
Oisin: Who has been your toughest opponent?
David: Neil McGee — he is a tough nut to crack.
Oisin: What player do you most admire in Ireland right now?
David: Eugene Keating — he would want me to say that anyway! Also Dean Rock. Great professional attitude and great hunger for the game, even with a pocket full of All-Ireland medals. I played with him at Ballymun Kickhams.