It’s more than just the fitness of teams that coaches will need to take into consideration upon the resumption of inter-county activity later this year. That’s according to Mayo’s former all-time leading scorer Conor Mortimer who says that there will be mental challenges to overcome for players who for months have been deprived of doing the one thing they love best of all.
The age profile of the current Mayo squad is such that many pundits believe the extended break will have done many of the players no harm whatsoever and leave the team well placed to mount a serious challenge for All-Ireland honours when the 2020 Championship finally gets underway in the autumn. But nothing is a given, according to Mortimer.
“The break will have benefits for some and not for others,” Mortimer told RTÉ Sport. “The love of playing has been taken away from players and we do not know how this will affect players mentally. I feel this will be something for coaches to take into account upon resumption.
“Of course, Mayo will be under scrutiny as always. We were staring relegation in the face pre-Covid, so if the League isn’t resumed it will be an advantage for Mayo,” observes the former All Star.
“But yes, some of the older guys like Lee Keegan and Colm Boyle will have been well rested so this will be another help to Mayo when we start back.”
It remains to be seen exactly what format and to what sort of attendances that inter-county matches will be played this year but Mortimer, who admits to having relished playing in front of big attendances and provoking a reaction, finds it difficult to believe that matches could actually take place behind closed doors.
“It will be an eerie feeling if there are no crowds at games this year. Obviously, there will be no atmosphere and it will be so difficult for players to enjoy the games if no crowds are allowed.
“In saying that, I don’t think the GAA will open stadiums and have no crowds. We might see smaller numbers, but I think we will see crowds for the Championship later in the year.”