The Song of a Wandering Touch Player
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head.
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
In the traditional Irish poetic form the aisling, the poet feels weak from thinking of the woes that have overtaken the Irish Gaels and he falls into a deep slumber. In his dreaming, a figure of radiant beauty draws near, so bright, so stately; she is Erin, the nation of Ireland and she is filled with sorrow.
Day 3 Game 1 vs Belgium
Perception is everything. We played Belgium in a tournament in Brussels in May. I was coming back from injury, I was still struggling, and had played almost no Touch in months. We didn’t have a full team and they beat us well. I couldn’t handle the speed they were coming at us and couldn’t believe how good Belgium had become.
In our game today, I was watching the first couple of sets from the box and everything seemed manageable. I went on the field and felt very in control, nothing that stressed me unduly. This was a comfortable performance.
Watching back at the video, I’m happy with how I’m responding to mistakes. I’m agitated about the error, giving away a score when I’m on the pitch pains me. I could analyse about three things wrong here straightaway.
We’d only one game today against Sweden so here in no particular order are my top 5 Swedes:
1. Eric the Red – since he and his friends pillaged and plundered in Ireland and my red hair probably goes back to him at some point.
2. Alfred Nobel for inventing dynamite and giving himself a prize. I think that’s what happened.
3. Anita Ekberg for that scene in La Dolce Vita in the Trevi Fountain in Rome.
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.
The Approach 1 – The Right Side (of History)
On the taxi drive from the airport into Nottingham, the sights are slowly becoming familiar, evoking feelings and memories of the last Euros here in 2018.
I look out the right window as the thick trees of the university campus reach out onto the road and I’m thinking about what I was thinking and feeling back then. I was agitated, on the edge of fury, listening over and over to a Podcast soundbed of Roy Keane, that equally inspired and fueled my rage. I wasn’t liking anything around me or myself.
I remember how I walked alone through those campus trees on the morning of that tournament and imagined if I did my own Saipan, continued walking, got on a plane and flew out of there.
I had to allow myself to imagine it to ease the pressure in my mind. I got close, and not really close.