First game up vs France this morning. We had to win this game to have any chance of making the final. Remember how we lost to them 8-7 on Day 1…
Remember too if any extra motivation was needed how we lost to France in the football Euros a couple of weeks ago…
Or maybe remember this…
Or maybe don’t be worrying yourself about any of that stuff because we won. A 10-7 victory. It was back and forth for most of the game until the last few minutes. They’re a good team and I like them a lot. They’ve stuck together with most of the same players as two years ago and they’ve improved hugely since then.
There are a couple of good protocols at the end of Touch games. You shake hands with all your opposition. You’ll often clap each other off the pitch. During both of these, you could see how devastated some of the French players were . As I shook hands with each of them I said my little bit of French ‘Tres bien. Merci beaucoup.’ and meant it. Some of them didn’t even look at me as the shook hands and couldn’t care less what the hell I was saying… and I actually love that. i have such respect for it. Why should they care about any platitudes from the other team in a moment like that? I would be exactly like that too feeling utter devastation. When a game means that much to our opposition, it means even more to me because you know they’ve put every last thing out there and you’ve had to do the same to beat them. That’s one of the things that makes sport meaningful.
Second game vs Wales
The sun was blazing all day. We had a short turnaround from the high of beating France. We had to come back down very quickly, rest and and refocus and then get back up again, get our bodies ready, get our minds sharp through the fatigue, the heat and dehydration. We’d beaten Wales by two scores the previous time we played them and from subsequent results thought we should beat them again but you have to win every game on it’s own merits. It doesn’t just happen. It’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s a grind and it hurts. I thought we did really well to tough our way through this game and win 13-5.
Last game of the day vs England
I was rested this game. You only know at the last minute once you’ve gone through the same warm up as everyone else, getting yourself ready mentally and physically.
What do you do when you’re not picked?
Try to put your own feelings to one side and do what’s best for the team is the best way to feel good about yourself. Straightaway I was thinking what can I do to make a positive input. Little things can sometimes make a difference in a team dynamic when bodies and minds are so shattered for the third match of the day. For the rest of the warm up and during the game from the sideline, I tried to inject positive energy into the group. Little comments here and there as players subbed off. Looking on, you have a lot more perspective and oxygen in your brain than players sprinting off gasping. Things that might be obvious from the sideline are not so easy to take in when you’re out fighting in the middle of it.
I sort of got to see this game as a supporter which was great in a way. (For one game, not any more than that!) You get a broader sense of what the team is doing, how it functions, the importance of the little roles, the less glamorous ones. It’s energising and makes you want to be back part of it straightaway. You see how hard everyone is working, the honesty of effort, people helping each other, how good this team is.
We beat England 7-5.
No permutations to think about now, we’re in the Final. England and France will play each other early tomorrow morning and whoever wins goes into Final to play us. We get a well-earned lie in tomorrow morning. A first ever European final for an Irish Senior Mixed team. A first for me. As I mentioned before… finals – I love them. There was an awful lot of nervousness and stress in my head over the last couple of days about making this final. Mentally, it’s easier now. It’s all excitement.
12.30pm tomorrow. See you there.