And we’re off.
Game 1 vs Luxembourg: Won 8-0
The highlight of this game for me was playing in every position on the pitch – middle, link and wing. I hadn’t played wing since the World Cup in 2011. It was great.
For some reason, I thought of the character of Boxer from George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’. Give me a job and I’ll do it. I loved it.
One of the things I’ve done in preparation for the tournament is visualise every pattern we run from the vantage point of every position, so I can slot into any position. As you get older, you’ve got to find your point of difference anywhere you can get it.
We did some good things in this game and others were a bit like a when Ireland drew 1-1 with Lichtenstein in soccer in 1995.
Manager Jack Charlton said after as an explanation, ‘It was difficult. They were running different angles from what you expect teams should do.’ The excuse was treated with derision at the time.
I found that in our game against Luxembourg. It was hard to run some of the systems. What we really needed to do was run a simpler game plan.
I realise I have an intense face. It can be a burden when people think you’re annoyed or angry when you’re not. And useful when you’re not in the mood to talk to people and they keep out of your way.
One of my teammates Dave Condon was looking at me one day when I was lost in thought, staring off into the distance, and said ‘You look like one of those statues on the islands in the Pacific’.
It’s interesting though. You balance that face by having a little baby with you, and suddenly, I’ve had more conversations with people than at all the tournaments I’ve played in since 2011 combined.
Like I said, a blessing and a curse.
Coach Kaja was on to me all day, keeping me focused and in the moment. Ania is reffing at the tournament so we were handing Kaja back and forth between us all day. Having Kaja to look after worked for me. I had less time to think, to retreat into my head and beat myself up about mistakes during the games. Who knew being distracted was all I needed? I should have taken up Sudoku or something years ago.
*Does anyone play that anymore? The cool kids are all into Wordle these days, I suppose. I must ask some of the youngsters on the Over 30s.
Game 2 vs France: Lost 6-2
There was a lot to take from this game despite the score line. Looking back at it, there are so many areas where we can improve. We were missing three players to start, managing the game time of one of our other players and then we lost Glen, Ireland most capped player or as near as makes no difference, to what unfortunately appears to be a serious injury. It looked nasty and is such a pity. He brings brilliant energy to our team.
This French team ran over us in a tournament in Brussels 12-1 a couple of months ago. We’ve progressed significantly since then and can still a lot more.
The video analysis after the game was deservedly harsh but encouraging, so many mistakes, so many areas that can be improved. It’s early in the tournament. Day 2 against Sweden, our only game, is not going to tell us too much either. It’s on ourselves to get our systems right, to keep improving how we implement them, if we want to do something in this competition. It’s a challenge.
Again, I ended up in the pitch in wing, link and middle positions at different times.
Ireland Try 1
We did make this difficult for ourselves as Dave could have put the ball down at any point but thought he was dummy half.
I scored our second try.
I wish it was this easy all the time.
I also, late in the game got Suarezed, which I believe is a word.
We’re boxing off from our line, the French winger blindsides me. Good shoot up from him, but then he overruns into me.
I get the penalty though I wouldn’t have complained if I didn’t.
I was wondering why my shoulder was sore lying in bed last night.
In fairness, I think his tooth came off worse.
FULL GAME Ireland v France | Tues 2:40pm
Star of the Day
Coach Kaja takes time out from not just working on my mental game during the day but also to demonstrate to me perfect diving technique.