Adult Ladies Football Team Review of the Year 2009
I still remember with clarity the day I took the call from Bridget and after a long discussion, I agreed with some degree of trepidation to help with the ladies football team for the coming season. I attended the first couple of training sessions more to observe than anything else and I must say I was both encouraged by the numbers who turned up and their enthusiasm. It was difficult for a couple of weeks to get to know names, personalities and skillsets and to build up a modicum of trust between myself and the panel so that we could build up a good working relationship and move forward purposefully together. Training appeared to get off on a good foot although it was quite apparent that there was a gulf in fitness levels and skills between the more experienced players and the younger generation of players on the panel and our year would ultimately be judged and be defined by the narrowing of this gap.
Although the ladies put in a decent enough effort when we started training in earnest, the attendances were very much up and down especially when we left the comfort of the community centre and encamped to the pitch at Staghall. Our first league game probably came too quickly for us and as a consequence, we started off the league campaign really poorly and this certainly seemed to affect the confidence of individual players along with that of the entire team. However, as the season progressed our pattern of play certainly improved along with our general fitness levels and our performances and results later in the year would certainly testify to an overall improvement from our initial starting position. Admittedly we are a team of mixed ages and abilities which at the start found it difficulty to gel together into a cohesive unit but as performances improved and results got better, our resolve and belief in one and other increased and we achieved some great results.
We have a small enough pool of players available to us to fulfil fixtures at any given time and we struggled at times to fulfil fixtures especially around mid summer when the college and school exam timetable kicked in. The most disappointing aspect of the year for me was our failure to enter a team in the championship and this decision was taken with a heavy heart. However, when enough of the players were unable to commit to be available when we were due to be fixed to play, the decision although unfortunate was an easy one, our hands were tied. Thankfully when the exams were finished and the enthusiasm for football returned, numbers improved and there appeared to be a new sense of belief about the team and this is the point in the season when our season turned for the better. A challenge game v Killeshandra in the lashing rain on a cold Sunday morning brought us our first win of the year and this performance set a new benchmark which the team rarely dropped below for the remainder of the year. We were now playing as a unit and the younger players including some of the under 14 panel who we introduced intermittently were now starting to play with confidence and assurance way beyond their years.
At this juncture of the year it was felt that we needed a goal to aim at to keep the enthusiasm and commitment within the squad at the current levels. The All Ireland 7-A-Side tournament offered us the perfect opportunity to keep the numerous challenge matches we had played and training sessions purposeful. Unfortunately the rules only allowed us bring a certain number with us to Dublin and regretfully we had to leave some talented players off the panel which proved to be the hardest thing I have had to do in my involvement in sport, ever. I understand the disappoint some players felt not being involved after training so hard but it was a horses for courses scenario and we selected the best team available to us on the day to do a specific job. Our aim was to be as competitive as possible in all our fixtures and hopefully win the odd game to make the long trip worthwhile. As it turned out our performances were as good as we have played all year and the team showed on the day that with self belief, hard work, a little organisation and some self sacrifice they are as good as every other team in the country. Certainly it was a very positive way to finish the year with the team reaching the semi-finals of the competition and more importantly playing with the skill and confidence the early potential had indicated was there. Unfortunately, I am certain that apart from a couple of unfortunate and badly timed injuries on the day, the team would have been crowned All Ireland Champions which they would have merited and thoroughly deserved.
I hope that the players have enjoyed the year as much as I have been involved with them and maybe gained some confidence in themselves as a team not just as individuals, along the way. All teams have special players and we are no different with a fair share of top rate players but its not individual players that win matches, its teams that succeed. Not to get ahead of ourselves, we are a long way short of the finished article but after scratching the surface and witnessing the potential within this group of players along with the talent coming through the under 14 team, the future is very positive.
Personally, I would like to thank Bridget and Rosaleen for their assistance and guidance over the year, to Colm Maguire who assisted us field teams for matches when required and more importantly to the ladies on the team for their dedication and efforts over the past 12 months especially those who are based outside of the immediate community and who travel on a weekly basis to attend training and make themselves available for matches. This year if I am to be honest, I would have to say has been a very mixed year indeed but the future is very bright and hopefully if all the players return with the same attitude and belief that we finished 2009, a county championship in 2010 is not beyond the realms of possibilities.