The League is now at the knock out stages as we reach the half-way point and already I am wondering to myself where has the season gone.
Long forgotten are the cold February nights and weekend mornings, the snow and frosted pitches. The harsh reality of Inter County football is that in 2 months it could be all over for another year.
Assuming your season goes well there are between 12 and 17 games in the year, putting that into context it is the same length of time as 1.5 and 2.5 working days. The frightening part is that for the most part we as player can take the brevity of the season for granted. It was this reality that made me as a player enjoy every training session a little more and made me work a little harder at training and at games, so as to prolong mine and the teams season.
Every team starting out their season wishes to be in Croke Park on the last weekend in September, it is what dreams are made of, and is indeed what every girl aims for the minute they put on their first County jersey.
We sometimes overlook the work that goes into getting there, the training, the travelling, the league games, challenge games, the club games in between and all that goes with it. It is at this stage of the year that the last weekend in September is a distant dream as every county tries to conquer the league be it Division 1,2,3 or 4, with aspirations of fighting to hold on for another year in the current division or to gain promotion to higher division or ultimately win the All Ireland League.
While the league can be viewed as an experimental phase for counties to try out the depth of the panel and variation in the starting 15 in order to create competition for places for championship. The league is essentially the first chance to grab some silver and to start season on good footing, a foundation on which to build for championship.
The league is the match practice for the championship, the metre stick by which teams gauge their progress and the development physically mentally and tactically.
As we prepare for the knock out stages of the league it is vital that we remain cognisant of the fact that our season is so short and could be over in a blink of an eye. While certain things are out of our control we as players need to focus our attention to putting 100% into training and also applying a game plan suitable for the day and the opponent.
The preparation is as important as performance, as the saying goes “Fail to prepare you are preparing to fail”, if each player on team are prepared to work on and off the ball and focus their attention to an overall team performance then you as a unit are in with a chance of fulfilling dreams and reaching the goals we set ourselves. It is in the league games that each management get to see this desire to achieve and willingness to work and improve.