For Richard Keogh, a break away with the Irish squad was just the tonic required for the pain of last week’s Championship play-off final loss to Aston Villa.
Keogh captained Derby County to the Wembley final but for the second time in six seasons suffered heartbreak at the final Premier League hurdle with the Rams, having lost in 2014/2015 to QPR.
The 32-year old had one of the finest seasons of his career as, under Frank Lampard, a young and vibrant Derby side finished sixth, beating Leeds United to reach the play-off final in the most dramatic of circumstances.
Having had a week to digest the loss, Keogh admitted that it was difficult to take but outlined that he has drawn upon his experience to try and learn to deal with the defeat and take positives from the season.
“Naturally, when you lose a big game it hurts for sure,” said Keogh.
“I was very proud of our group, we had a great group of lads last season and to achieve what we did, to get to a playoff final, was amazing and we had some great moments along the way.
“Obviously, we couldn’t get quite over the final hurdle. It hurts, it hurts for a few days but I think when you get a little bit older you learn to deal with these things a little bit better.
“We had a younger group as well so my main thing was to get around the younger guys. Listen it hurt, but I was proud of how well we played.”
Keogh was one of the more experienced players in the Derby starting eleven during the campaign with the defender playing all but 18 minutes of the Rams’ 57 game season.
The 32-year old spoke extremely positively as he addressed the media and was keen to find the silver lining in the defeat, not dwelling too much on the personal disappointment he may have felt.
But does the manner of the loss make Keogh and Derby even hungrier for promotion next season?
“Yeah of course it does,” he explained.
“I think whenever you suffer a bit of heartbreak it does make you more determined to achieve your goal the next season.
“That’s what you have to do as a player you have to try and look back on the season with positivity and see what we need to improve on and hopefully go that one step further.
“The Championship is a tough league myself and Conor (Hourihane) were saying this year has been really tough and it’s only getting stronger and stronger.
“The group that we created and what the manager has created at Derby was something special. Hopefully, we can regroup and get some quality additions in and attack it.”
A by-product of the successful season at the iPro is, of course, the inevitable speculation linking manager Frank Lampard with a move away from Derby.
The former Chelsea midfielder impressed during his first campaign in the dug-out but despite rumours he may be replacing Maurizio Sarri at Stamford Bridge, Keogh is confident that he will stay on and help the club push for promotion once again.
“I’d be sad to see him leave, I can’t speak highly enough of the gaffer working with him in his first season.
“I think naturally with the speculation that’s going on regarding Sarri, the gaffer is going to get mentioned because of the legendary status he’s got at that football club and obviously he’s doing such a good job with us.”
“As far as I know he’s looking forward to next season as much as I am and it would be a shame to see him leave,” he added.