'I've learned a lot about myself' - NI captain Callaghan on training alone

Northern Ireland captain Marissa Callaghan
Marissa Callaghan has won 55 caps and scored six goals for Northern Ireland Women

Northern Ireland captain Marissa Callaghan says she has "learned a lot about herself" while training alone during the coronavirus lockdown.

Cliftonville midfielder Callaghan, 34, has been following an intense conditioning programme as part of her preparation for the 2020 NIFL Women's Premiership season.

"It's very different," said Callaghan.

"This is obviously another pre-season for us, and we're used to doing pre-season with team-mates on the pitch.

"I've learned a lot about myself, about self-motivation when you're out on the pitch by yourself and trying to get through the tough sprints.

"I have a set routine from Monday to Sunday with a few rest days in between. There is a lot of running and sprinting, with some mobility and power and strength routines."

Sporting shutdown 'tough to take'

Callaghan admits the shutdown of the sporting world was "tough to take" so soon after a confidence-boosting camp with Northern Ireland at the Pinatar Cup.

NI viewed the friendly tournament in Spain as ideal preparation ahead of their crucial Euro 2021 qualifier with Belarus that had been to take place on 14 April but was postponed.

Northern Ireland would move above Belarus into third place in qualifying Group C with three points with the two countries also scheduled to meet in Belfast on 5 June.

"It's tough," admitted Callaghan. "We should have been preparing for this game.

"Unfortunately, because of the situation, we haven't been able to. We're just trying to stay positive and look forward to the game, hopefully it'll happen when this is all over.

"We had a really good few months of training. Just before this all kicked off, we were in Spain and we had some positive games and performances.

"It was a fantastic camp, 10 days away in Spain and we were learning so much from each other, on how we wanted to play coming up to the Belarus game."

Marissa Callaghan (right) on duty for Northern Ireland against the Republic of Ireland in 2018
Callaghan (right) has been staying in touch with her Northern Ireland team-mates on WhatsApp during the coronavirus crisis

Motherhood 'life-changing' and 'amazing'

Callaghan, who has earned 55 NI caps since making her debut in 2010, has been staying in touch with her international team-mates and manager Kenny Shiels during the period of social distancing necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The squad recently held a virtual quiz night and they have been staying in touch through their WhatsApp group chat.

Callaghan has also been kept busy by her five-month-old son, Quinn, with whom she has been spending much more time given the circumstances.

"It's a tough time for everyone but it's great to have this time with him.

"It's been amazing and life-changing, he's just an amazing thing. He loves his grub and he loves his sleep, he's starting to giggle and make lots of sounds so it's the best thing ever."

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