TO be the best you have to be willing to train hard, be committed and sacrifice a lot in pursuit of the ultimate goal in your chosen sport.
Time after time you hear stories of how players give up their social life, see little of their families and friends as they bid for All-Ireland glory.
In this regard, Roisin Phelan is certainly one that can be put in that category and an example of that happens every Wednesday during the season.
Roisin is a dentist, recently qualified, and is currently working in a practice in the Carlow area.
On Wednesdays, she gets into her car and makes the long journey to Cork to train with the ladies senior footballers.
The journey time is roughly between two and two-and-a-half hours each way.
She then stays in Fermoy on Wednesday nights in her grandparents' house before hitting the road not long after 6am to be back in Carlow to start work on Thursday mornings.
But, just like many in the squad who travel long distances to train, Roisin does so without complaint and without reward of any sort.
She will then make the same journey at the weekends, be it for a game or another training session.
This typifies this present squad and indeed past as well, as they simply love putting on the red jersey and consider themselves to be in a lucky position to do so.
There are no swelled egos, but just a bunch of players who are determined to make up for last year’s semi-final loss and bring the Brendan Martin Cup back to Leeside, which is currently ‘on loan’ in Dublin.
Roisin has been around the squad now for a number of years and currently has four senior All-Ireland medals and the Aghada player is bursting to add another on Sunday.
This season, having played in a number of defensive positions, she has firmly established herself as Cork’s full-back of choice and will certainly make life difficult for any opponent she faces.
Most likely she will end up marking Sinead Aherne on Sunday and this battle could very well be one of the key ones as Cork bid to dethrone the reigning champions.
Like all the squad she is looking forward to Sunday and will be one of the key players the Rebels will look too.
“Of course we are looking forward to Sunday, this is where any players wants to be at this time of year. We started training in January with the aim of being here, even though it’s two weeks earlier that it normally is, but we won’t complain about that.
“To be honest the date doesn’t matter, it is earlier this year but that has been flagged since January so all sides would have been working towards this date.
“I suppose where it does help is afterwards when we have a bit more time before club matches have to take place and it gives us a bit of time to recover from Sunday before we have to get involved in those games.
“Looking at the season so far I wasn’t involved in a lot of the league games as I was doing final dentistry exams but the girls were very disappointed to lose to Mayo in the semi-final, the same as we did in the All-Ireland semi-final last year.
“That was a bit of a sore spot for us, but generally looking at the league campaign we blooded a lot of players and a lot of them got game time and we found a few new players through it, so it was nice to have that.
“In ways, this is a very inexperienced squad and in other ways it’s a very experienced one. There are a lot of new people there, but I think that is a good balance for the team.
“I think the new players help to give the squad a new energy and bring a new impetus to the day and the process of going through an All-Ireland final day.
“For players a lot of it is about preparation and getting ready for the day, so the more experienced ones have been letting them know what happens.
“We have been giving them the run-down of what goes on in the weeks before, nights like the media night and the meet and greet session with supporters.
“The type of training we do and what happens. We let them know about heading to Dublin on the Saturday and what we do and what we do then on match day.
“We have a set routine at this stage that we like to stick to and the girls know what that is so they can prepare for it. Athletes are kind of a creature of habit so it’s nice for them to know what’s going to happen.
“For everybody though there is still an amount of self-preparation and that’s different for everyone. I like to do a bit of visualisation the night before and then once we get on the bus I really start to switch on.
“About 20-25 minutes before we reach the stadium is when I really switch on and I will either turn on my own music or listen to the music on the bus and focus on what we have to do, both as a team and as an individual.
“I work through match situations in my head and that’s what works for me and that’s what I like to do. I’m not really superstitious, I like to do certain things but not in any particular order on the day.
“I don’t really put labels on things and I am sure that Dublin are the same. They are favourites and no doubt deserve to be as the current champions.
“They’re an outstanding outfit and we know just how tough a game we are facing, but you have to beat the best if you are going to win and that’s what we have to do on Sunday,” concluded Roisin.