After a players meeting held the Saturday night before, where all the talk is about the lads given up the drink for the whole year & lads never missing a training session, your approach this year renewed hope that it would be different than the shambles that was last year. You arrive in the door from work & forget that you’ve training in 2 hours time & eat the dinner, followed by tea & whatever biscuits are still left in the tin of biscuits from the Christmas.
No sooner do you stand up from the table than you remember you’ve to head down to training, your brain hits overdrive as you try to think of an injury that you possibly could have...that you only sustained in the last 48hrs, because as you explained to the players in the smoking room in the local pub on Saturday night, you’ve never felt in better shape. Jesus that was some session though Saturday night. You decide that you better head down to training (sure it might not be too bad after all its the 1st night back & the manager won’t want to torture ye...after all the players had no respect for him last year, maybe he’ll go easy on you tonight while the other lads are running laps). You grab the jacket & the gear bag & head for the door. You remember your going without the fags, but you reckon your better off not bringing them, after all you told the lads you were off them!!!
You pull in to the pitch & see lads sitting in cars looking out at some lad whose setting out cones all round the field, you decide to head in to the dressing room, show the lads how serious you are!!! You wander in & find the manager & 3 selectors standing there chatting..but if there in here, then whose out there putting down the cones. They explain that they’ve got an army lad in for the next 2 months to get ye in good shape...you feel the spuds churning in your stomach...something tells you, you’ll see them again before the nights out. You break out the brand new gear & a few lads admire the new Puma boots you bought, €180 you inform them... the same 1’s Ciaran Whelan & Cavanagh wear. You check the cogs, which look like something NASA came up with, but you reckon it’ll give you that extra yard in training.
You chat to the same lads that you only spoke to last year, the same lads who arrived late last year, are arriving late as you head out the dressing room door & into the bitterly cold January night air, it most definitely wasn’t this cold earlier on.You run on to the pitch & survey the cones laid out, its hard to know exactly what sort of football drills this lad is likely to be using here...you then notice that there’s actually not an O’Neills football in sight. Your run slows down to a jog, then to a walk...no point over doing it yet!!! Training starts at 8, although its 8.15 & lads are still coming out on to the field...little do they realize that every time a lad comes after 8 your trainer adds on an extra lap to be run at the end of training by everyone.
You start off training by running aimlessly over & back across the field...every now & again the trainer shouts for ye to sprint...but your already at full tilt to stay with them as it is. After 10-15 mins of agony ye stop for stretching, this apparently was only the warm up... After you’ve finished stretching ye proceed to run around the field for what seems an eternity, but what the trainer informs you has only been 12 mins!!! At this stage your lungs are killing you & you regret ever taking up smoking 40 a day, & your dinner is slowly working its way back up your stomach!!!
Your also well sick of the county minor player lapping you on these runs...who does he think he is? It comforts you a huge amount when you discover that he’s recently been dropped off the panel, yet still trained tonight in the gear that you know his mother went out & bought him!!! Another 45 mins of running laps, sprints, shuttle runs, sit ups, push ups, & more laps, the trainer says 1 final lap to finish up. This is your moment to shine. You decide to hit the front early & set the pace..you go full pelt...you feel fitter, faster & stronger than ever before. You might have died for the last hour & a half or so but now your going to show them.
40 yards in to the run...you hit your 10th brick wall of the night & lads coast out by you, you try to stay going, but every step feels like a knife in the chest. Finally you give up & walk the last half a lap, where the other lads are just finished stretching!!! You try & stretch but your 2 legs feel like 2 concrete pillars so you decide there’s no point & head in to the dressing room...a hot shower is just what you need!!! You greeted at the door by the Chairman who informs ye all that no one turned on the boiler for the showers so there’s no hot water in it!!! You throw on the clothes & scab a cigarette off 1 of the lads before you get in the car to drive home.
As you drive home, you thank god your the only goalie in the club, they won’t see you at training again till mid March!!!