McInerney showing his hunger after summer filled with ice-cream
Published 07/07/2016 | 02:30
This time last year Roscommon's Niall McInerney was pulling 99s in a Santa Barbara ice-cream parlour while his county fell asunder in the championship, but on Sunday he hopes his day at the seaside will help his county to Connacht glory.
McInerney, 20, a St Brigid's clubman and medical student in UCD, stepped away from GAA for John Evans' last season in charge of the Rossies, but this weekend's Connacht final in Salthill has handed him a real chance of a maiden Connacht medal.
The summer in the California sun meant he came back to the county set-up with a real hunger for success, and McInerney says his total removal for the game has reignited his love for football. Defeats to Sligo and Fermanagh meant an abrupt end to Evans' reign, but those losses barely registered on the west coast of America.
"The weather was unbelievable and just to get a break from the football was good. To be honest the first time I saw that Sligo match was about four weeks ago. I didn't watch it at all, I didn't play or watch football at all over there," said McInerney. "I think I saw the result on Facebook and that was it. I really wasn't thinking about football at all over there. I was working in an ice cream parlour and getting a bit of a tan!
"You'd just be fresh coming back. We were going for a long time with St Brigid's in Connacht and then with Connacht and that it was good to get away. When I got back I was mad to play football and get out there again.
"You need to have other life experiences outside of football and then when you come back it makes you a bit more sure and better able to deal with everything."
With three years completed in his medical degree in Dublin, McInerney's workload will only ramp up in the coming seasons. But this year he admits having to organise studies around his inter-county career has helped his focus.
"The travel down from Dublin would probably be the main thing. I'd say this year doing both probably helped me.
"You'd know 'I've training this evening' so I'd have my study time scheduled from nine to five or whatever it is. So it brings that bit more focus to your life. If you weren't playing football your diet might go down so playing football gives you a bit more purpose.
"Sure, it's a challenge sometimes but at the end of the day it's worth it to be playing for Roscommon."
McInerney's father, Gerry, is ensconced in the St Brigid's club and will pull on the primrose and yellow and cheer on his son. But as a native of Gort there might be some divided loyalties as his son faces his native Galway. "My dad is from Galway and there will be a bit of banter in the family," he added.