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Kerry Under 20 manager John Sugrue.
Kerry Under 20 manager John Sugrue.

John Sugrue: 'The value of sport is very apparent right now'


By Cian O’Connell

John Sugrue remains cool and composed as a strange year continues to unfold.

Since March uncertainty has existed, but ultimately the EirGrid All Ireland Under 20 Championship resumes on Saturday when Sugrue’s Kerry clash with Galway at the LIT Gaelic Grounds.

A lot has changed in the world in the intervening seven months, but people are adapting to new methods. Even the approach to training has altered significantly. “There is a bit to it, the guys have to fill in a Covid questionnaire before they arrive at every training session,” Sugrue explains.

“Eamonn Foley, a good friend of mine, is involved in that regard, he has given us a huge hand in the last couple of weeks as regards making sure everything is tight. We have got to monitor guys arriving at training, to make sure they are arriving appropriately, taking the proper precautions.

“At training it is quite different, the sociability that was in the dressing room and the post session meal has changed dramatically. Guys are just dropping their bags, going out on the pitch. There is no hanging around in indoor spaces of any shape or form.

“The meals afterwards are out the back of a van, it is grab your meal and go. It is quite different, but in terms of logistics the nuts and bolts of it are quite simple.

Former Laois manager John Sugrue steered Kerry to EirGrid Munster Under 20 glory.
Former Laois manager John Sugrue steered Kerry to EirGrid Munster Under 20 glory.

“No indoors practically as much as possible, if it is pouring rain you throw your gear bag into a dressing room, while you do that you wear a mask while throwing it in there.

"It is very, very tight in that regard. We had a session the last night, everyone togged out outdoors. We avoid all potential pitfalls.”

One of the things that has struck Sugrue in recent times, though, is the sheer pleasure and joy sport provides. The joy, hope, and debate.

“I think the value of sport is very apparent right now, it is a great discussion point for people outside of the major discussion points there are surrounding Covid and surrounding probably the US election, unfortunately in this country,” Sugrue laughs.

“A game at the weekend when a fella kicks a few points or another fella holding a fella scoreless, a thing like that, it is a great discussion point. It is a great point of ease for people to have a chat about. Please God it stays going for the community, for the young guys themselves, and if it is managed well it is a relatively low risk point with regard to the spread of it.

“Of course the players can contract it in various different ways, there are lots of ways they can contract it outside of the pitch. I think the pitch right now has been shown with the evidence of the last four or five months not to be a major source of transfer.”