'How are ya fixed for a bit of Junior 'B' football?
Published 14/04/2015 | 00:00
There are many great questions in life. If a tree falls in the forest but nobody is around to hear it, will it make a sound? Is there life after death? Does God exist? What is love? And last but not least, how are ya fixed for a bit of Junior 'B' on Thursday?
I got the faithful, annual text on Saturday afternoon (I say text, it was actually a group on the Facebook messenger, that's what it's all about nowadays).
It only took a matter of minutes until the banter started flying. 'Head off' was the first reply.
'Match Thursday. Meeting in the village at 6:15. Let me know if you're coming and sure we'll take it from there.' A vintage Junior 'B' message.
For most lads in the group, the only fields they've seen over the past six months or so have been dominated by cows or sheep. The most exercise some have had is the dash from the pub to the chipper to avoid the queue.
But none of that matters. Lads instantly come out of retirement the moment there's a whisper of a Junior 'B' match. It's where young lads are baptised and ol' lads are reborn.
I'll have to go out tomorrow evening with a few bottles of Febreze and see how the gear-bag has fared in the shed throughout the winter.
Then I'll blow off the cobwebs on the boots (both literally and metaphorically) and it's like I've never been away.
Last year the new man in charge stuck me up corner-forward for every game.
That manager has since moved on. I don't even know who is going to be in charge on Friday.
It could be the lads over the first team but it'll more than likely be whoever draws the short straw.
What I do know is that my corner-forward career is probably over.
I don't think I've kicked a point since I was eight. I was a square peg trying to fit a round hole.
This year, I fancy a safe return to the bosom of corner-back.
There, I can nestle gently beside the all-powerful full-back and rely heavily on the half-back buzzing around in front of me.
I know my limits. Rampaging runs are not my forte. I prefer to make life as hard as possible for whatever misfortunate has been placed before me.
I'm happy just to get an arm in or get a hand to the ball. I just want to wind him up and frustrate him. I'm there to stop him playing. I treat the ball like a bomb, I want to get it away from me and my goal as fast as possible and the longer it is in my possession, the more dangerous it is.
No matter how long I play G.A.A., I'll always get a wee knot in my stomach when the ball is heading in my direction.
My internal monologue at that moment in time is not an inspiring one. It something along the lines of 'oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no, where's my man? Oh no!'.
But then instinct takes over. I go from a bag of nerves to realising the ball is there for me and before I know it, I've nipped in, caught it and have taken it on myself or casually found a team-mate. And then suddenly I believe I'm Ciarán McDonald for a while.
But for those 60 minutes or whatever length of time I'm out on the pitch, I'm not thinking about work or tax or bills or anything.
And it's very important to have that, you need to de-stress. You need to have a release.
For some people it's listening to music, going for a run, watching television but for me, it's playing Junior 'B' on a Thursday evening.
It's far from perfect, it's far from normal and it's far from a sport but it'll do me just fine.
Things like training and fitness aren't the top priority in Junior 'B', it's all about having a bit of a laugh with your friends and playing a bit of football along the way and that's exactly why I got into sport in the first place. God speed, Junior 'B'.