Interview with Padraig Sweeney
When did UL team start?
If my sources are correct, 2006.
What’s your own background / what did you play before ultimate?
Born and raised in the fine County of Limerick. Before Ultimate I was involved in most other sports, GAA, rugby and soccer being the dominant three for the best part of my teenage years. By the time I came to UL, soccer was the only one I had kept up.
Why did you start playing?
I’ll never forget the moment. 1st Year Clubs & Socs day in the UL arena, myself and Eimhin Daly were in an excited state signing up to different clubs like Skydiving and Table Tennis. We spotted two lads in UL jerseys throwing a disc back and forth and thought “Ya, I’ll pay €5 to join and learn how to do that”. Haven’t looked back since.
How has UL evolved / changed over the last 4 years (since you’ve been playing)?
A tough one to answer. In some ways the club hasn’t changed at all. The spirit among the members to do what’s best for the club has always been a big focus. I’m sure most colleges would say the same but I think there’s something special done in UL. One thing we do really well every year is integrating the beginners into the club quickly and smoothly. If that means spending an extra 30 minutes at the end of training explaining the flick to someone, or just immersing them into the chaos that is a UL house party, then so be it. Either way, people feel welcomed and tend stick around.>Talk about the UL facilities?
I think the short answer would have to be no. Despite having gathered a lot of players from UL and Limerick secondary schools I think the reason we have turned into a strong Ultimate community can only be attributed to vast amounts of hard work from people that have come before me. I can imagine other places across the country could have similar facilities and player catchments, but our improvement in recent years can largely be attributed to the previous head coaches. Daragh Kelleher and Niall McCarney both invested huge amounts of their time into creating a more serious and thought out season long training plan for the Open team. This mentality is now ingrained in the ethos of the First team. Andrew Meade showed that this season by continuing on their good work.
How was your 2014/15 season, high lights?
Despite not ending how I would have liked, I can honestly say the 2014/15 season was the best season I’ve been part of in UL. I can’t fault the attitude and commitment of the 20+ players that committed to first team trainings, which is a big positive to take from the season.
Cristy Tinkler’s hand-block layout callahan to put us ahead against Trinity is something which must also get a mention as a season highlight. That was cray-cray!
Along with this, we recruited a lot of very talented players this year. Seeing them develop and win Dev’s was a great thing to be a part of.
You did better indoors, why?
Perhaps it was a confidence thing? We had won Indoors the previous year. Despite having only 2 returning players to the Indoor team this year I think everyone knew we could definitely win, simply because we did it last year. Outdoors was a different story. UL have had a bit of a reputation of not really turning up to IV’s. We focused a lot on our mental game this year but even reaching an IV’s final is something no UL team has ever been able to do. In no way am I saying we panicked, but I think we turned up to Indoors with a “Let’s win this again” attitude, where’s Outdoors had a “Let’s become the first team in UL history to do this” vibe about it.
TCD semi final, tough break, would you do anything different if you played it again?
Throw less turnovers and score one more point I suppose. Don’t think there’s much we could change, we spoke before the match about containing their big players like Sam and Cian. We got off to a great start and went 3-0 up, but there was a period in the middle of the game where we forgot our game plan and they got a few points back. Momentum swung back our way by the end and I thought we were going to do it, but another Sam to Cian connection on universe is what stopped us getting to the final.
What’s next, for UL, and for you?
UL continue to grow and work towards its first IV’s. With the progress we have made in the last 4 years since I joined the club, I think people know it’s only a matter of time before the work pays off. For me, I start work in Cork City this September. Until then I have U23’s and Nationals with PELT to train for.
What’s the relationship between Pelt and UL? Do many people stay in Limerick after graduation?
PELT and UL have a great relationship. When it was originally founded 3 years ago, PELT was entirely comprised of UL players looking for a club to train with over the summer. We’re now at the stage where both clubs are strong enough to play each other in a competitive game. This year, both PELT and UL were the highest finishing Club and College team at the Siege which was a great achievement.