Roscommon take to the field last year in Hyde Park. Photo by Willie Donnellan
Discipline on the field, discipline off it seems to be a way of life for Roscommon footballer Niall Kilroy who juggles his inter-county career with a demanding career.
The 27-year-old Fuerty clubman is an Actuary, one of the most demanding careers, but Niall believes the discipline needed for sport helps his career - “Discipline is critical but playing intercounty football probably helps because it makes you focus more and use the time that you have when you have it.
“If I wasn’t playing, maybe I’d think I had more time than I really did and not to bother. It is tough, I’d be reading stuff coming down from training, it’s the same for all the lads.
“They’re coming down from Dublin for training, reading notes for college exams, they’re up early in the morning and that’s just the way it is. But we all know that if we want to get to our end goal, which is to win stuff with Roscommon, then that’s just what you have to do.”
With a trend of players choosing careers to suit their intercounty careers, Niall went the other way - “Thinking back to when I was 18, I didn’t want sport to be my life 24/7. I saw the way that the game was going, training was becoming more demanding and I didn’t want to think about sport around the clock.
“I always loved maths, statistics so I went down that route in college. I was lucky enough to get into UCD to take up actuarial studies and I had that balance then, where I almost had two separate groups of friends, my classmates and then my team-mates.
“That went into work then, so I’m working the guts of four years and doing the professional exams, and they’re very demanding.”
Neither does Niall believe that a demanding career can stifle sporting ambitions - “You see a lot of players in the GAA who just aren’t working, but for me that would never be a consideration. I think you need a bit of structure and discipline in your life, and it does help you when it comes to game day then, you have that structure, that break away from sport where you can put your head into something else and then focus on the game at the weekend.
“I look at other sports a lot, I look at NFL, soccer and read up on how teams train and how certain players train. I suppose that I’ve seen is that rest is one of the most important things you can do for your body.
“You can do all the work but you still need to rest, so even if you’re available three times a day, it mightn’t be efficient to do so coming up to a game, and if you’re as well off resting, aren’t you as well off working?”
And Niall insists Roscommon won't be taking their eye off the challenge of Leitrim - “We knew from going over to New York a few years ago that it wasn’t going to be easy for any team going over there. Leitrim came through that very well, they showed a lot of character and they’ll be a better team for it. Now they’ve a home game, so we have to be focused on it and be ready for it, or we’ll be out of the Connacht championship.