Interview with Sam Mehigan co-captain along with Rory Kavanagh for the Irish mixed beach team @
How has the training been going?
Training has been fairly minimal, the team was picked quite late and a lot of the players are either on EUC teams or living abroad so we only got the chance to train twice. There’s a decent core of players from the 2013 team though so we only needed to get about half the squad up to speed on how we like to play.
Training for beach ultimate in the depths of the Irish winter on Dublin’s secret beach, Burrow Beach,
Tough training over the winter for an event so early in the season. Winter sand, wet, cold!?
We trained in December on a frozen solid beach, so we nearly would have been better off training on grass. We trained again in January and it was a little softer, but nothing like what Dubai sand will be like. I imagine it’ll take some adjusting for us when we get there.
Location of training, & one of the local residents and superfan
Where have you been training?
Having played on a handful of beaches over the years Burrow beach in Sutton has been the most reliably soft(ish) and free from debris and shells. So we’ve been using that one exclusively.
Have you played any warm up tournaments with the team?
A handful of us went to Barcelona at the start of February for a 1 day iron man tournament. We also had arranged a couple of friendlies the day before against the local clubs but I missed my flight in the morning so didn’t get to play them. The tournament itself was open and we were playing mixed so we were pretty happy to come 5th with only 1 loss and 3 wins.
11 of us then played in a tournament called Lisbon MOW later in February. There was a bunch of national teams there prepping for worlds including some perennial heavy hitters like Germany and Portugal. We won all our games against the non-national teams and but could only manage 1 win over a team we’ll be facing in Dubai. We lost to GB 11-10, we beat the Dutch 10-7 in a game dictated entirely by the high speed winds, we lost our semi to Germany 9-8 and then we lost a rematch with Holland 11-8. I felt in general that the team performed well, we fought back against deficits a number of times but couldn’t quite manage to take some wins. Hopefully with our full squad at worlds we’ll be able to overturn some of those results.
What are you hoping to achieve at WCBU?
The team was set up with the main priority of getting a group of players so that we can just go to worlds. It was shaping up to be an incredible tournament and a few of us from the 2013 team decided we didn’t want to miss it. Having announced the team we ended up getting a very strong group of players so we have the chance now to look at taking a few scalps hopefully. In general though we’re aiming to get everyone on the same page, play some good disc together and have a great time over there.
Is it tougher now, having done so well in 2013?
I think Ireland have certainly got a target painted on their back now but I don’t know if it changes anything really. Expectation wise we spoke at length to try and dispel any assumptions of a repeat success since the 2013 team had 3 warm up tournaments under our belt plus a very favourable knockout draw that helped us to the final. So we’re not going in looking to finish a certain position, but our team is definitely capable of getting some big wins.
Which teams are you looking forward to playing?
I know Rory is going to say the US who are in our group. Personally I’d love another shot at the Swedes after the drubbing we got 2 years ago.
Have any of you been to Dubai / What do you think it will be like to play there?
I don’t think any of us have been there actually. I expect that in terms of playing it’ll be no different to anywhere else, I’m just hoping it doesn’t get too hot and melt us pale Irish folk. I imagine the main differences will be to do with the local customs off the field.
What’s your approach to the local laws will you be off alcohol for the week?
Having spoke to some friends who’ve lived there it seems like it won’t be a major issue. The things you might have heard supposedly aren’t really enforced on foreigners except for women needing to cover their shoulders in shopping malls. We’re not imposing a drinking ban so if anyone wants a beer during the week then they’re free to do that, I’d hope we’ve moved on from 2003 levels of Irish team midweek drinking though. The only danger with drinking in the UAE from what I’ve heard is public drunkenness so we’ll be sitting everyone down to make sure that doesn’t get anyone in trouble.
Who do you think will contest the final in your category?
I assume the States will be there, after that it’s a toss up. There’s probably half a dozen teams between Canada, the Philippines, and the top Europeans that could get there.
The states again and either GB, Canada or the fan favourites from the last 2 WCBUs the Philippines.
Where do you think / aim / hope to finish?
No idea, there’s a few unknown elements of our pool, like a 12th seeded Japan so if everything clicks we could make quarters and from there who knows, but we could just as easily get knocked out in the pool stage, there’s a lot of tough teams to play before we can look at quarters.
Higher than open!?
Historically that’d be easy to answer but the open team are definitely much stronger than previous years, I also have no clue what their division will be like so who knows.
What else would you like to add ?
It looks like we’ll be streamed live against Japan so I’d encourage everyone to get up at 6am to watch us.