By Ian Cooney
Rebecca Finan has a trampoline in her back garden. But, for the most part, you won’t find her jumping around in it to pass the time.
The Éire Óg player’s cultured left boot tends to be a source of scores, from frees and play, for the county’s intermediate ladies’ football team. With GAA grounds closed up and down the county, Rebecca has had to think outside the box to make sure her radar doesn’t go on the blink.
“I use the trampoline to practice my frees. The size of the target is similar to what you’d be aiming for in a game.
“We live out in the countryside, so there are around four or five different angles around the house where I can see the trampoline from, so I start from close in and work my way out — using the same technique that I would use in a match and making sure that I follow through when I kick the ball. I could be as far out as 40 or 50 metres for my last kick,” she explained.
The competitive streak has never left Rebecca since Covid-19 shut down her sporting world. Luckily, she has her brother Mark for company to keep those instincts intact.
“When he doesn’t beat me in the free-taking competition, we have two sticks in the ground for goalposts, so he gets his chance to get revenge in the penalty shootouts,” she laughed.
Now in her sixth year with the Roscommon panel, Rebecca has always been hugely motivated and driven to succeed. But she admits that the current bump on the road has been harder to digest as the weeks have been ticked off the calendar.
“Like everyone else, I thought this would only last a few weeks and we’d be back playing soon. But the longer it has gone on, it has become more difficult.
“You keep trying to do the right things. I have my routine. I’m up early in the morning for a walk. We have workouts online. For aerobics fitness, I do my running. I really wanted to use this break to get fitter because it’s like a full-time job playing for your club and county.
“I think we just need clarity. Are we putting in all this effort only to be told that there will be nothing at the end of it all? If there is going to be no more action next year, I would prefer them to make the call now so that players can clear their heads, relax and get ready properly for next year,” she explained.
Rebecca appreciates how the GAA’s possible return will help those who crave some interaction in their communities. But as long as social distancing remains in place, she can’t see how there will be matches and crowds.
“Our teams have great support but it would be impossible to keep them apart. People go to matches, not just to see their teams but to meet other people, to chat to them and talk about the game. It’s not feasible to keep them apart in Hyde Park or in Loughglynn. How could you get people to keep an eye on it?,” she pointed out.
The camaraderie with the current Roscommon panel helps though. They meet up, virtually, on Zoom sessions twice per week. For Rebecca, it’s just great to be able to see her team-mates and have a chat.
“The girls have remained very positive and enthusiastic through all this. It’s great to see them and talk through things. It’s not the same but we still have the craic.
“When we do get back, I feel we’re ready to get to the next level and reach a league final or an All-Ireland final. We have new players coming in every year and we’re learning from them. The older players want to stay around, so we have some really good days to look forward to when we pull on the jersey again,” she concluded.
Rest assured, all those hours Rebecca Finan is putting in with her trampoline will yield a rich dividend.