Covid19 keeping St Enda's footballers on home soil: Peter Healy
WITH Covid19 keeping the St Enda's Glengormley footballers at home, Peter Healy feels they are able to compete at senior level in Antrim.
The 2018 Antrim and Ulster intermediate champions suffered a mass exodus of players when they stepped up to the senior championship last year.
But with everyone forced to do a ‘stay-cation' this summer, the Hightown Road men have given themselves a fighting chance of muscling their way into the championship reckoning this term
Last Sunday, they served notice of their championship credentials by coming from six points down to beat St Gall's by two points which edges them closer to the quarter-final knock-out stages.
“We actually had a few lads planning to travel this summer and their plans were hampered so everyone is at home,” said Healy. “Everyone is at training for the last month-and-a-half, so it has worked out quite well for us. It's a level playing field, whereas before we would have had a lot of young lads taking off travelling.
“It's rare as well to have everyone training together for a solid month. Everyone has been giving off about fixtures for years and does it take something this big to change things?
“Whether the GAA thinks it has worked [dividing club and county fixtures] and go for something similar [in the future] or go back the way it was before, I don't know.
“Your club-mates are your best mates. You want to get as many months of the year training with your club-mates. You want to push on with your county too. Maybe the GAA will see this period as a success; we'll probably have to wait until the end of this to see what everyone thinks.”
While their three-point win over Gort na Mona Sunday week ago was their first senior championship win after years of yo-yoing between senior and intermediate, it was their victory over St Gall's that made everyone sit up and take notice.
“The club has come a long way,” said the versatile 23-year-old.
“The win over St Gall's was probably one of the club's biggest wins ever. It was a good opportunity to actually show where we're at. Some of the lads were looking at the odds before the game and we were 4/1 to win, so it showed that we are at that level, especially with our forward line, it's so dangerous at times. You'll get bursts where anything can happen so we feel we can win any game we play.”
Lockdown has made life much easier for Healy too as he is not required to travel to his job in Dublin. For the last number of years, he has been clocking up the miles from the Irish capital to represent club and county.
“My car has been sitting outside gathering dust. It's brilliant. Even going to college in Dublin I haven't been home in a while, so it is nice to get home. I think a lot of lads were expecting to be ahead of everyone else in terms of how fit they were but that wasn't the case because everyone seemed to be looking after themselves.”
Although he's enjoying being home he plans to return to Dublin in the autumn but is prepared to do the hard miles for Antrim as they bid to secure promotion out of Division Four in October.
“With the county I was driving up the road two or three times a week. I took a year out after the All-Ireland Intermediate final [February 2019] and I didn't play a lot of club football last summer either, so when the county season started in November/December time I was raring to go and had the motivation after having a bit of a break.
“When Kristian [his brother] came back from injury around March/April time he was travelling up the road with me so when you've somebody travelling with you it's grand. You get out of work at 4pm, up the road for 7pm and back down again. It's hard work but doable. Maybe in four or five years' time I'll have a different attitude. You just play as much as you can."