Interview with Club Captain Benny McManus   26/10/2020

Club PRO Tommy Butler in conversation with Senior Men’s Captain Benny McManus.

T Butler Good afternoon Benny thanks for chatting to me about rugby in Longford Rugby Club over the last six months.  At the moment we have entered a Level 5 Lockdown so I suppose the best place to start is just before the first lockdown when we were riding high and looking to secure 2nd place in 1B and a promotion playoff and go on another good cup run?

B McManus Sure, we went up to Clondalkin on a good run of form needing to win with a bonus point, to maintain our push for second place in the league.  We came into the match on the back of a good run of form in January/February where we also beat Navan 2nd XV in the Provincial Towns Cup. Navan were a good side featuring a lot of AIL players and we played some great rugby to come out the other side with a win.  The general feeling in the group at the time was great, with the squad really clicking, players working on their fitness and playing some great rugby since Christmas.  We had a tough patch before Christmas but came back stronger and there was a definite feeling that we could go on and make a serious challenge for promotion to 1A via the playoff and also go on another good run in the cup after reaching the Semi-Final a year before.

T Butler That was something I definitely felt too, it was exciting and I was hoping that we could get the job done and get promoted after losing out the North Kildare the year before.  So, when the news came through that the season was over and there would be no promotion, what was the feeling in the group?

B McManus There was a serious amount of frustration and a big feeling of ‘unfinished business’ in that an end of season that promised so much was cancelled due to Covid-19.  Most of the squad channeled this frustration into motivation and a desire to ‘finish the business’ this season with promotion to 1A.  We came back in the middle of July for preseason training and have been going hard since then.  We only managed to play two matches in that time: friendlies away to Monkstown and Tullamore.  Even our first league match was cancelled versus Clondalkin due to complicating factors from the Level 4 lockdown in Dublin.  So even though most sides have had at least one league match, Longford have had none and are now facing into not knowing whether we will have any games this season at all.

T Butler It must be hard to maintain motivation in such a scenario especially now that collective training has been put on hold until at least that start of December?

B McManus Yes for sure it becomes harder and harder to maintain motivation especially as we have no target to aim towards, no confirmed matches and do not know if the league is even going to go ahead fully.  As a club a lot of the players come to train from all over the country, Athlone, Dublin and Galway and it gets increasingly difficult to try and tell player they need to keep training and plan for rugby when there is nothing to aim towards as regards competitions and games.  However, throughout the Covid period the emphasis in the squad has been to focus on what we can control rather than worrying about restrictions and what might/might not happen.

T Butler I think this time around with the second lockdown there is generally a lot more despondency as there is no end to this crisis in sight and there is lots of indications that repeated lock downs are being strongly contemplated.  I think the first time around there was massive buy in, as the country collectively felt that a once off massive effort and strict lock down, would then let us get back to relative normality; living with Covid rather than Covid running us.  Bearing all this in mind do you see any way forward?

B McManus As I said you can only keep lads going so long with no target in sight, so sooner rather than later, they may need to just put this season to one side.  It is the last thing that I want to see as even though the core playing group is very young, there is a good few of us in our early thirties where our opportunities to get promotion or win a trophy are dwindling with the passage of time.  The younger lads will hopefully have lots of year ahead of them but there is problem keeping motivation within a squad indefinitely.  I think we would probably need at least two weeks of full contact training before we could play any matches so it is looking unlikely with the duration of the present lock down of any rugby being played before January.

T Butler So I think what you are saying is that you and the squad would like to see some sort of return to rugby plan and eventually a point where everyone agrees to call it quits and start again next September when hopefully we will be moving on from the Covid crisis?

B McManus Definitely, we all want to play rugby but need some targets/plan to work towards.

T Butler Within all the doom and gloom one definite rainbow on the horizon is the development of the new €600k artificial pitch at the club, which started a few weeks ago and should be ready by the end of December/early January?

B McManus Yes for sure, it is a real positive for the club.  The new pitch will be hard and fast regardless of the weather, which should suit most of our squad.  When I first came over to Longford, it must be 8-10 seasons ago at this stage, Longford were a more forward orientated team, who the heavy pitch conditions, such as we usually see in Winter on the front pitch tended to suit.  We have evolved during this time and especially the younger members of the squad prefer a faster more skillful game, which having a consistent fast surface will suit.  It certainly something really to look forward to.

T Butler Talking of the new pitch I think it is a good time to mention the man who is behind most of the facilities in the club since it was refounded in the 70s, Mr. Derick Turner, who as always, is the main driver behind the new pitch?

B McManus Derick is definitely the main man behind all the facilities the club have and probably a good reason many players play in Longford.  Derick winning the Mr. Boots award for his outstanding contribution to rugby is a fitting reflection of his contribution to Longford RFC and Irish rugby in general.

T Butler I think that is a great point to end, thanks for your time.  Finally, the rugby on TV must be a good way of keeping motivation going at the moment?

It’s definitely a great distraction with things to do being so limited at the moment!  Munster are playing tomorrow night on TV and there are also a few matches on today.  One thing is for sure, Ireland are going to have to improve a lot from their display against Italy yesterday, if they are going to have any chance of beating France in the final Six Nations game next weekend!

Powered By: Sportlomo - Online Sports Software
Website Designed By: Sports Manager

powered by