Conor McCarthy returned to the Republic of Ireland with a different football viewpoint after St Mirren’s thrashing by Celtic.
The 21-year-old centre-back had enjoyed front-foot football with his first senior club, Premier Division side Cork City, before he joined the Saints in January.
However, a 5-0 defeat by the Ladbrokes Premiership leaders in early March where Leigh Griffiths scored a hat-trick with additional goals from Odsonne Edouard and Callum McGregor was something of a new experience for McCarthy.
The Irishman was allowed to return to his parent’s house in Cork when the coronavirus crisis brought a halt to football midway through this month and he has had time to ponder his punishing Parkhead experience.
McCarthy told the PA news agency: “It was strange going to Celtic knowing that you weren’t expected to get anything from the game.
“At my previous club we were always kind of at the top of the table fighting for leagues and stuff. It was a strange feeling how the tables are turned.
“One minute you are fighting for leagues in Ireland and then in a couple of months, you see that these lads are away ahead of you. They showed that is the level you need to get to.
“There is no doubt that Celtic are the best team in the league and the quality of player was at a different level.
“I watched the game back and there was stuff that the Celtic players did that I can take into my game. It was a tough watch, I am not going to lie but these are the things you need to do.
“There is no point in not looking at the game, you have to learn, that is the only way you are going to improve.”
Like all Buddies players, McCarthy, who has represented the Republic of Ireland at under-18 and under-21 level, has been given a fitness programme while he waits on football resuming.
While he has had no problems keeping to his exercise routine, which he undertakes in a park close to his home, he thanked his mother Esther for helping him keep on top of his diet at a time when people have been told to stay at home for most of the day.
“I am actually really disciplined,” said McCarthy, who is in the final weeks of his economics degree course.
“I have to thank my mother at home for that. She realised I can’t be eating tins of biscuits so she generally doesn’t bring them into the house.
“Whatever I say I can’t eat, she has been really on top of her game so I have to thank her for that. If I was on my own in Scotland I think it would be different.
“Obviously there is no set days for when the season starts up but I think most footballers will be disciplined in that respect.
“We know we have to look after ourselves and that is part of the job.”