First training session back a big operation but a success: Motherwell coach Diarmuid O'Carroll


After a hugely successful Irish League career Diarmuid O'Carroll is now part of the coaching staff at Scottish Premier League club Motherwell

FIRST the Motherwell players have to stay in their cars until they get the green light to enter the training complex. They've already texted the physio early that day to say they've either 'symptoms or no symptoms'.

One by one they're given the go-ahead to leave their cars and they hand their filled-in questionnaires to a staff member.

For now, the kit-man takes the temperature of every player.

He points the temperature gun to the forehead of each player.

One player is declined entry because his temperature is deemed too high and is sent home.

There is a one-way system in place for players to go to the bathroom and also if they need to see the physio.

Some players arrive wearing masks but they're not mandatory in the outdoors.

Former Celtic and Cliftonville striker Diarmuid O'Carroll joined Motherwell last August as U18 and reserve team manager. On his first day back yesterday, O'Carroll is part of the first team management's support staff as they execute their first socially distant training session.

The place is coming down with sanitizers. Consistent with government guidelines, players are broken up into groups of six.

The sports scientist insists the best way to conduct warm-ups is to replicate them - three times to be exact for three different groups.

Everything is on a loop. Manpower is also key.

“The boys can't pick the balls up,” explains O'Carroll.

“You couldn't even serve for volleys because you can't have 24 or 25 people handling the same ball if they're sweating. As a precaution, the balls were washed and sprayed down.

“We're obviously doing it in a streamlined way and as best we can. At the bigger clubs you hear they have disinfectant teams where players are probably still having breakfast as normal and the disinfectant teams follow them out and wash the rooms down. I think they're disinfecting rooms five and six times a day.”

Motherwell's training facility is 10 minutes away from Fir Park. To put 24 professional footballers through their paces, with all the coaching staff present, they require four pitches for their first pre-season training session. The price of social distancing.

In their next session [Tuesday] they'll finish off with some circuits where every group will have six of everything.

“There'll six dumbbells, six medicine balls, six skipping ropes and they'll be sprayed down before the next six come in,” says O'Carroll, who had coaching spells in Las Vegas before his latest posting in the world of football.

“Today was a big operation. That's testament to the work the first team management team put in. I was there in a support role but learned a lot during the session.

“It was great, everyone was buzzing and just to see the grass and get back doing something felt good.

“The natural thing to do is when you see people you want to give them a hug or shake hands. We've been trying to drill that into the players over the last couple of days. We did a bleep test, we could do that easily enough, then there was a one-way system to skills and a bit of passing, pattern stuff.

“We realised we could do a lot of things that the players enjoy. We obviously can't do possession or games, but they went straight into how the team wants to play, which was great.”

After 75 minutes, the Motherwell players were finished for the day and left with individual food packs rather than heading back to Fir Park as they normally would.

Welcome to your first day back at work.

On Thursday, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will address the nation with everyone hoping she moves to Phase Two of the roadmap out of lockdown, which will give professional football teams “a lot more freedom” and edge them closer to full contact, with testing.

Especially in these times, there will be lessons and learning every day as the highly-rated Kerryman tries to leave his imprint on the beautiful game across the water.

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