How does a professional sports star use their downtime?

Luke Fitzgerald, Ken Doherty and Tommy Tiernan featured on today's Off The Ball Saturday Panel

Travel is a major part in the life of a professional sports star. Be it short distances or across the world, athletes can be away from their families for weeks at a time.

But after they unpack their suitcase and settle into their hotel room after their flight, what do athletes do to fill their spare time? 

Joining Ger Gilroy on Off The Ball's Saturday Panel was Leinster rugby player Luke Fitzgerald, World Champion snooker player Ken Doherty and stand-up comedian Tommy Tiernan.

The trio discussed life on the road be it on tour, playing at tournaments or even playing at the pinnacle of world rugby at last year's World Cup.

Tiernan began by explaining that during tours he likes to get out into the city to explore and in recent months has begun running in his spare time.

"I enjoy staying in hotel rooms, I like the silence of hotel rooms and running for me is my way of getting out into the city and seeing things" he said. 

"Everyone is tuned differently, I myself go running in these different places. I did 10 miles around Amsterdam."

The comedian was also asked whether he had been he would partake in a drink, something which he had abstained from for eight years previously.

"Truth be told my gorgeous wife told me to start again... We were on holidays down in Cork and she said "We are having no craic and I know you haven't drank in eight years, but if we don't start tonight..." he recalls.

Tommy Tiernan and Ken Doherty pose in 2006. Image: ©INPHO/Andrew Paton

When it comes to the issue of alcohol and sport, Luke Fitzgerald, who was part of the Ireland rugby squad who made it as far as the quarter-final last year, sheds some light on the attitudes within professional sport.

"Some of the guys who aren't getting selected and aren't involved for the weekend, they're training all the time. So they might do a seven-day week, but they might head out on a Friday or a Saturday for a couple.

"No one gets that wild over there because you can't do the training effectively. They monitor everything as well so you really can't get away with it."

For Ken Doherty, the practice can be very difficult if it is alone but with other professionals can be made a little more enjoyable. 

Doherty, however, says he soaks up the atmosphere of being at big tournaments instead of being alone in their hotel room.

"It's a lot more difficult, I miss my kids and I miss my family, so it does get a little bit harder when you're on tour" he explains.

"But I do enjoy the craic. You get to work with a lot of different characters and they're telling stories about the old days. You do miss that when you're not there. Some people when they're there go to their hotel rooms and watch box set and movies. I can understand why they do it, but it just doesn't appeal to me".