I’m not afraid to admit it. I’ve been beyond lazy the last couple of years.
I used to be skinny once upon a time. That was, until, I found the glory of Guinness.
And, the Guinness isn’t to blame solely on its own. When I moved to Dublin, I spent a good three months living off €5 carverys.
All of this culminated to me putting on roughly around a stone and a half.
So at the start of last year, I copped on, started going to the gym more and running more and eating more healthily and drinking less…
Well, the drinking less thing was never going to fly but you can’t cut back on everything!
Since I moved to Dublin in the summer of 2017, I’ve very rarely kicked a ball either.
The odd game of astro here and there – which really highlighted how unfit I had gotten – was the height of it but in terms of GAA, it’s a distant memory.
I played my last proper game of football around the end of 2016. A disgraceful fact that I don’t like to admit too often.
I was heading into a fairly stressful masters and in the midst of all that, I had to move up to the capital so to be honest, sport was at the back of my mind completely.
Which is strange, considering most of my time is spent talking about sport or attending Mayo GAA games up and down the country.
— Darragh Berry (@DarraghBerry) July 22, 2017
When my housemate – another GAA player who hasn’t touched a ball in a while – moved in, in May 2018, we talked about joining a GAA team in Dublin.
But after a few training sessions, we soon realised we were miles off the pace of even a Junior B player.
It was a stupid idea in fairness, it was peak GAA time and we were nowhere near peak-fitness.
So, we decided instead that we would spend our summer evenings heading down to the local park and firing a ball back and forth to each other.
Step 1: Buy a football! This is how long I’ve been out of the game for…
It started off with short foot passes about 5-10 metres apart but soon enough, we were trying to recreate outside of the foot passes which were landing near people’s cars, heading towards the heads of people walking their dogs and into bushes.
Basically anywhere except into each other’s hands
The next step was to head into a local GAA pitch and start popping balls over the bar.
It was a great feeling to curl a size 5 over the black spot once again and even the thrill of fielding a high ball and turning to shoot – despite there being no one around – made me happy.
I miss it because it was a big part of my life growing up. I made some invaluable friends while playing for my local club in Mayo, most were on my team, some were opposition who hounded me on the football pitch.
I was a decent midfielder when I was younger but when everyone else started matching and outgrowing my height around 16, I took up position at half-forward.
But I was nowhere near a “what could have been” status either. I was a 8/10 on a very, very good day but I don’t think I would have ever donned the green and red shirt sadly, even if I had kept at it continuously.
Just saying ‘I miss it’ is enough of a reason to go back, but for me it’s so much more than just missing it.
I’ve become so unfit in the last 18 months that even running 2k can leave me heaving for breath on the side of the road some nights.
When I was playing football, I never worried about my fitness. My legs were fast and my lungs had the capacity to keep up with them when no one else could and fuel them to carry on further.
But now, I can feel the after-effects of a game of Astro for three days.
I know the ability is still there. I played a charity/friendly game in the middle of 2017 and I scored 1-1 in the first 15 minutes but was subbed off at half-time because it was obvious that I had nothing left in the tank.
The sense of being a part of a sport team is an incredible feeling also. There’s nothing better than standing in a dressing room with 25 other lads and just knowing that you’ve got their back and they’ve got yours on the field.
It’s that sort of team spirit that gets you through the toughest and wettest of training sessions in January.
And it’s something you’d miss. You miss being involved in the groupchat, the slagging if someone is missing a training session.
And must of all, you’d miss the praise. The football pitch is the only place where your hard work and fantastic performances are praised and your low points are ignored.
Slipping on a jersey is a great feeling, it’ll be strange that it’s not my local club in Mayo but I’m sure I’ll make the colours my own after a while.
But, it’ll be hard finding a team in Dublin to slot into and making our own so if anyone is willing to have two Mayo lads join them in 2019, let me know please.
At the moment, my only idea of fun is going out on the beer for two days straight. And don’t get me wrong, that’s great craic but before I even thought about touching a drop when I was younger, football filled me with so much joy.
In my own head, I know it’s important to find happiness from a lot more places than just a pint.
But this leaves me in a predicament.
Do I want to go back playing football at a low-level ‘for the craic’ or do I want to go searching for trophies? January me will probably take the craic option but hopefully by summer time, I’ll have more of the latter mindset.
And it goes without saying that taking GAA back up is going to help me get back to my 11-11 and a half stone target.
Eating healthy is all well and good for maintaining your weight but if you want to lose more, you need to put in some serious exercise.
With GAA, you’ll be focusing on interval training, HIIT as well as getting your cardio and core in too and this can sometimes be before you even set foot inside the gym.
As well as this, you’ll be so pooped after training and matches that getting an early night will be a dead cert, something that is very important for the mind and body that we often take for granted.
Even last night, I found myself in bed at 10:30pm but still on my phone until almost midnight. Why like.
Some people don’t like sport and that’s perfectly fine, it shouldn’t be pushed on them. But for the likes of me, who is a massive GAA head, to be sitting at home when I should be cutting some blade of grass somewhere practising 45s is completely unacceptable.
To have a pair of football boots idly stare at me every night before I go to bed, placed in the corner hoping to get a day out soon, is completely unacceptable.
Having no excuse not to take it back up but still failing to do so in the New Year would be completely unacceptable.
I’m bad at keeping Resolutions but I really hope this is one that I stick with.