ON THE BALL Keith Higgins is pictured in action for Ballyhaunis. Pic: Michael Donnelly
FOUR-TIME All Star Keith Higgins admits that he was ‘a bit surprised’ to be named as the number one Intermediate player in our inaugural Mayo News ‘Top 100 Mayo club footballers’ series last week.
The Ballyhaunis and Mayo star says he ‘hadn’t expected to be at the top’ of the rankings but was ‘delighted’ to be chosen as the outstanding footballer at Intermediate level by the judging panel.
Speaking to The Mayo News Football Podcast in an interview which will be broadcast this week, Higgins revealed that despite his long and illustrious career he still motivates himself for games with club and county by ‘trying to prove himself’.
“I’d have to go out with that feeling that you have to prove yourself every day, whether it’s club or county,” the 35 year-old explained. “Different people have different ways and different personalities to get the best out of themselves.
“I’d have the feeling that I needed to go out and prove to people that you are where you deserve to be. This year, whenever we go back playing, I’ll just be going out to try and prove that you’re as good as you can be.”
Higgins, who has been working with the Bank of Ireland for 13 years, also explained that he has been studying for a Masters in Sports Management at UCD since last September.
Two months without any GAA action have also given him a chance to mull over the prospect of the curtain coming down on his inter-county career — not that he’s ready to walk away just yet.
“The reality of it is that when we were hearing the news that there might not be a championship this year, you’re kind of wondering, ‘is this how it’s going to finish up?’
“You enjoy the free time, and the time you get away from it, but you enjoy it and love it that much that you just want to be playing it and involved in it in some way.
“You just hope that it’s going to come back sooner rather than later.
“I think it’s a case of keeping going for as long as you can really. I think [at the moment] everyone is appreciating how much sport means and how much enjoyment you get out of it.
“I think if you asked most people what they enjoy most about training, it’s not going out for an hour and a half and running around a field, and getting flogged in runs and all that,” he added.
“It’s going out, meeting your friends, and having that bit of craic and engagement in the dressing-room. It’s as much the social element as the competitive element.
“It’s not like you miss one person, you miss the craic and the interaction of the dressing-room. It’s the whole collective of it that makes it so enjoyable.”
Higgins is renowned for his consistently high levels of performance and fitness across his 15-year inter-county career, but he admits that training on his own without knowing when (or if) the GAA season will resume in 2020 is easier said than done.
“I’d be lying if I said it was easy to keep on track, it’s very difficult,” he conceded.
“Whenever the last announcement came from the GAA to say they’re be nothing until the end of the July at the earliest, I was in the middle of a running session when the notification came up on my phone. You’re like, “ Do I need to keep going? Will I keep going?’
“You do have those moments, particularly when you’re on your own. It’s hard when you have nobody pushing you along.
“But you just have to stay positive and keep going with the aim that when football does come back that you’re in some sort of decent shape to be able to perform.
“But it’s not the same, there’s no point saying otherwise.”