The Paudie Kissane column: Club players should feed off the atmosphere before a county final but not get distracted by it

The Paudie Kissane column: Club players should feed off the atmosphere before a county final but not get distracted by it
Nemo Rangers' Alan O'Donovan and Duhallow's Anthony O'Connor tussle for the ball. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

CONSIDERING the events at Special Congress last weekend there will have to be a good few tweaks to the club championships in Cork for 2018.

The combination of the round robin Munster hurling championships and Super 8 in Gaelic football is not going to leave much activity for club championship games in May, June, and July.

Considering recent performances by the Cork seniors teams August could be affected also.

Clubs are nearly better off being told that there will definitely be no county championships game in May, June, and July. Players can book their holiday without fear of missing a game or vital training and managements can plan their programs appropriately.

To still enable championships to be finished in time the back door could just be an option for first round losers and divisions and colleges could play off against each other first with two teams joining the clubs in the third round like before. The number of dual clubs in Cork will still make the running of championships difficult but the restriction on backdoors would be a help.

It could be like two defined seasons with club players having a four- to eight-week break from competitive games in May or June.

Back to the present championship and some players and management are fortunate as their sporting dreams are still alive for 2018. There will be a buzz in places like Togher, Mallow, and Kanturk for next few weeks as their local club team is possibly only 70 minutes away from ultimate glory.

The atmosphere down in Nemo might be slightly subdued as they are used to being in county finals.

The key with players and management alike is to feed off the good club atmosphere but not get distracted by it. Games were won up to this stage by focusing on hard work, executing individual roles or game plans and overall performance. The result takes care of itself.

Many finals can be lost due to poor performance. Rather than blame the weather, the referee or just poor bad luck a team can underperform due to many factors which are in the team’s control. In many finals, one team’s underperformance, in fact, enables the winning team to play really well.

A team naturally enough needs to play well enough to win a final but it doesn’t need to be a perfect performance if there is such a thing!

Look at Dublin recent All-Ireland football wins, they had periods of great play in all three games but you could never say Dublin were outstanding in any of the three games. The record books would back that up with two one-point wins against Mayo and a three-point defeat of Kerry in 2015.

Jim Gavin even highlighted a few backs how he felt Dublin’s 2016 All-Ireland final performances were not a true reflection of his team’s strength and ability.

Credit Kerry and Mayo for making Dublin look average but at end of the day its just making sure you do enough to win.

Looking for that extra few percent improvement can be channelled the wrong way. It can lead to overtraining the team in preparation for the final. Teams are on the go nine or 10 months and with the short turnaround in games, the last thing players want is a big increase in training volume.

This can increase injury risk and lead to fatigue. Teams can lack that freshness and sharpness which are conducive to high performance and in fact can appear leggy and unfit.

Poor individual performance can result in a player feeling he or she has to achieve that 10/10 performance. The minute you feel you have to do something it’s like you have no choice which will only increase the pressure on the player.

Seeking better performance players can try too hard come final day itself which can increase anxiety and stress leading to poor decision making and impaired physical performance.

A similar situation can also arise when players seek individual reward from the game. Being final day with the big crowd players can deviate from team tactics and systems as they look to win the game on their own. Ego can take over with the player imagining his name in headlights and being the hero for evermore.

Many balls are lost in contact or shots are attempted from crazy angles when simpler options were available. It might be hard to believe but I’ve seen it happen.

A team can be affected also as they lose their focus in preparation for the game and on the day of the game itself. Players are carried away in the hype leading into the game and are nearly anticipating the celebrations before a ball has been kicked.

Before you know it the final whistle has been blown, the team has lost with a belly full of regret to think about over the long winter months. Regret that they didn’t just focus on playing the game and forgetting all about the external noise.

There should be a cracking atmosphere in Páirc Uí Rinn this Saturday night as Mallow and Kanturk contest the Premier Intermediate final. It could be a historic few weeks as both clubs are contesting both hurling and football county finals.

It will interesting to see how the finals go. Will many teams win playing their best game of the year or will a solid performance do as the oppostion will underperform.

CONTACT: @paudiekissane on Twitter or visist

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