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James McCarthy is one of the most honoured footballers off all-time but like all others has never experienced a lead-in to the summer months like this one.

The Covid-19 crisis has the sporting calendar on pause as players the length and breadth of the country try to keep their focus as best they can.

The versatile, all-action Ballymun Kickhams clubman has won seven All-Ireland SFCs, five NFLs, nine Leinster SFCs, and three All-Stars (2014, 2017, 2018) as well as an U21 All-Ireland (2010) since making his debut for Dublin's senior footballers in the league in February 2010.

However, even for a footballer of his status and experience it is very tough going.

“It’s a huge challenge. You’re not training together as a team, you are not working on your combinations and your plans, so that is a huge challenge," says James.

"There is a lot of individual responsibility on guys to try tip away and stay fit, get fitter, get stronger. But it is a huge challenge, especially for younger guys on the team, trying to get combinations together is challenging.

"But the thing is everybody is in the same boat, so you just try hit the ground as best you can when we do get back."

The current situation has seen players preparing in isolation away from the strength of the group.

"You’re nearly like a kid again going out to the back garden and kicking a football off the wall," adds James.

"That’s the best of the skills (training) you’re doing really and if I’m going to the park, I’ve two or three balls myself and try and kick a few scores.

"I’ve turned into a bit of a DIY merchant at home and cleared out the garage and done the garden up. And I have a few weights in the garden and trying to keep my strength up that way.

"There are times you are going to lose motivation because that’s natural. And when you do miss training for a day it’s about getting back on the horse as soon as you can.

"It’s normal to have those bad days. You just have to plan your weeks and days. That’s the best way, I find but it is a big challenge and the longer you’re away from the group the more you miss training."

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