How did the season go for you team?
I’ll just be talking about the open team here, the girls had a pretty impressive season and I wouldn’t be doing it justice talking about it!
The season didn’t end the way we wanted but you couldn’t say it wasn’t a successful year. For me, the enjoyment is at trainings. We train together each week and judging the year on one weekend would be silly. Everyone made an extra effort to push themselves and each other at training this year. We all had great craic off the pitch as well and didn’t wanna lose to each other which made things more competitive at training. It’s definitely been my favourite year in UCC.
What were the team’s highlights, and your own ones too?
Hmm, Siege was a huge highlight for a lot of us. Our team had a mix of talent from very strong players to beginners so we felt no pressure to finish high, we just wanted to enjoy playing together. We had a great game against Gentle where everything clicked and our quarter against GB on Sunday morning was a great battle. Our semifinal at mixed outdoors was also really fun.
UCD’s deep game was unstoppable, I think they came down with everything in the air and we found ourselves having to break twice or three times to win. Our girls did a great job getting some D’s and moving the disc on offence which helped us a lot. Universe point was spicy enough, one of our players dropped two pancakes in the endzone but somehow caught a dodgy hammer while laying out.
My own highlights have more to do with training. In my first year people were strolling down 20mins late to training and we often didn’t have fitness because only two or three of us showed up. This year there was a huge buy in from the lads, we only had people late to the first two sessions of the year and had 12+ people at fitness each week. The lads really pushed hard at training too which made really fun and a pleasure to coach and play with them all year.
Our second team finishing in the top 8 at IVs was pretty special too! They were unlucky in two universe point games on Sunday but fought hard all weekend. It was awesome to have two UCC teams in the top 8, especially since college teams are getting more and more competitive each year.
Anything you would have done differently, looking back?
We sort of burned out after Siege and had a lot of injured players which made it tough to have a big build up to IVs. So I think I would have planned the season a bit differently and encouraged more gym sessions than fitness sessions especially before Christmas. Personally, I’d have focused more on the positives than negatives at training. I often assume that the positives speak for themselves and focus on what went wrong and how to improve.
How did freshers fair go (way back when)? & Did you get many players who had played previously (at school)
The development of the club is the most important thing each year. If you can ensure the club will go strong once you’ve left then you’ve done a good job. We put a lot of effort into recruitment and retention and we were very happy with the beginners this year. We got a few players from schools in Ballincollig alright. In the last two years, about half of our first team had started in school.
Without the work put in by people like Donal Murray and Fergus McAuliffe, UCC Open wouldn’t have had a competitive open team in the last two years. We also had one fresher who played in PE in Limerick with UL students. He said he came into college with ultimate as his new sport so UL must be doing a great job!
How many were still playing by the end of the year?
There are around 10 guys still playing.
Was this the usual sort of level, or did you do anything different this year, which had more or less success in retaining / gaining new players?
This has been the best recruiting year while I’ve been in UCC anyway. We made more of an effort this year to get to know loads of the beginners and have more parties and it worked really well. We also changed our approach to coaching the beginners so we could give them a large window for success while challenging the more athletic freshers and teaching proper ultimate.
How many of your first team players will you be losing? Are you excited / positive about 2015/6?
We’re losing three of our first team players next year but a lot of us are going into final year so we might not be around as much. I’m always excited about the next year! I’m also looking forward to just being a player next year. I was captain and coach the last two years so I think a new leadership will be great for everyone.
Will many of your team be playing in the summer somewhere? (Worlds / summer lge etc)
There will be seven players on the U23 open team and seven players (four guys and three girls) on the U23 mixed team who’ll be competing in London this July (there’s also two other UCC students on the mixed team who don’t compete or train with UCC). We also have six girls on the EUC women’s team who’ll be competing in Copenhagen at the end of July/start of August. There’ll be players competing at tournaments like Tour and Windmill with their club teams, Rebel Ultimate and Pelt Ultimate.
Cork Summer League is starting soon which draws a lot of UCC players too.
Will you follow the progress of the various Irish teams going to international tournaments this summer?
Definitely! Anyone who knows me knows I’ve a slight obsession with ultimate so I’ll be keeping a close eye on national teams this summer. Ireland always manages a few aul upsets or scares so it’ll be great to see what Ireland can do this year.
Anything you plan to do to improve your own game over the summer?
I’ve U23 worlds coming up so I’m trying to throw everyday between now and then along with two gym sessions and at least one fitness session each week. I’ll also be training with Ballincollig Ultimate twice a week. I’m trying to push myself harder as well. I feel that this U23 team is better than our last one and it’s sometimes easy to rest on that but we won’t be playing them at worlds, obviously. We’ll be playing other countries who probably have had a similar improvement so it’ll be important to get the most out of myself in the next few weeks.
What else should we have asked you / would you like to add?
Hmm.. The most important thing for college teams’ leadership is to think about the next few years as well as the year they’re in charge. A really successful year is great but a really successful program is much better. I think the desire to win can overshadow this sometimes but I feel it’s important to think about the future of the program as well.