JASON McGee has said that his attitude towards football is in a lot better place this year than it was last year.
McGee is currently working on his own during the current period of inaction, which will be extended until Easter due to the news that GAA is no longer regarded an elite sport. As a result, players must stay sidelined until Ireland changes its status out of Level Five.
That will suit McGee who is working his way back to full fitness after he was unable to reach his full potential in 2020 because of injury.
“I am flat out doing injury prevention stuff. Last year I was coming back from a hip operation.
“When Covid hit I was just two months into rehab.I had to go and do all that myself. When we did get back into training I kept breaking down because I didn’t have a pre-season. I maybe could have been doing rehab wrong when I didn’t have a physio.
“Now I am working on a programme to get stronger in my lower body and so I am trying not to be breaking down.”
So McGee feels more comfortable this time around as he knows the mistakes that he made last year and how to rectify them.
McGee explained that players need to have a focal point to work towards.
“I found the first lockdown very difficult. You were training away on your own but not knowing when the next game was going to be.
“Hopefully we can get a few dates sorted in the next few weeks. It is hard when you are not working towards a date.
“We can’t train together so you don’t know what shape you are in. You can’t judge yourself with others. We will be going back four weeks before the start of the league and you will have the fears of whether you are in as good a shape as the next man.”
He thinks that last year affected his recovery from the hip operation.
“I think that last year, in the back of my mind, I didn’t think there was going to be any football and so that affected my rehab. It’s different this year because I know there will be football, at some point. The games will come thick and fast so I need to get all the injury prevention done.”
McGee said that he feels a lot better now.
“I think in the weeks leading up to the Ulster final I was getting back to close where I wanted to be. Then we were beat. I tried to, over Christmas, to keep training and to keep doing the running.
“So I am feeling fresh.”
Those fans from Donegal are very keen to see how their county team will respond to losing last year’s Ulster final to underdogs Cavan. It was a heartbreaking day for the Tir Chonaill team who were chasing their third title in-a-row, and most folks were surprised that they didn’t achieve it.
“Our main goal is to get back and win Ulster. We want to brush away the memories of 2020.
“Personally, since I wasn’t involved and I didn’t see a lot of game time, it hurt me. I see it as an Ulster final that we left behind us. Going into games now I know I can’t take anything for granted. I don’t think I should look back too much on it. Even though I didn’t play much, I never look back on the game or watch it. To me, we are better to brush it under the carpet and move on.
“It will come up when we are back in training, and we will talk about it before games, that if we go in with the mindset that we did against Cavan when we weren’t mentally at the races and the hunger isn’t there then we will pay for it. The lads will use that game as an example.”
Perhaps a challenge for Donegal, and any team preparing for the new season, is that they are only going to get four weeks to train collectively. They would have a lot more under their belt in normal circumstances.
“It is going to be difficult tactically to get up to speed. It is going to take a few months to get that together. But I think every man is working hard by themselves. Everyone is expected to come back in as fresh as they can so they can hit the ground running. Every county is the same, we are not going to have time to do running sessions.”
The news recently came out that Down manager Paddy Tally is facing a potential eight-week ban for a charge of “misconduct considered to have discredited the Association” after the Mourne county allegedly broke the training ban.
Mickey Graham, the Cavan manager, said that he was concerned that teams might not follow the rules.
McGee said that he thinks that teams should just stick to the directives.
“I haven’t a clue what other counties think. We just have to adapt. Every man has to be honest with each other and train as hard as we can.
“We have Zoom calls, and we have had phone calls. Everyone is putting in a big effort. I think everything is going well.
“I am looking forward to getting back to training with others, and challenging myself. I am mad to get back to compare myself.”