AS it was my father’s birthday on Sunday (happy birthday Desy), I thought I’d drag him to the Louth County final and we followed that up by watching the Down County final on television.
I had also taken in the Donegal final the day before on TG4. My wife, Marie, thinks I need to take a football job soon as she reckons I’m hard work without the focus of managing a team. I’ll tell you one thing, the house has never been cleaner. Luckily there has been a feast of club football to entertain me these past few weeks and also to take my mind off Liverpool.
The buzz at Sunday’s Louth final was hard to beat and being there in person lets you soak up the atmosphere.
It would also light a fire in you to reach next year’s final as being involved can’t be beaten.
Now, as the club championships come to an end, we are entering the season of reflection. I can say from experience that, although it seems a long way off, next year’s championship will arrive in a blink of an eye.
The work that clubs, committees, management and players do in the next month will go a long way to determining who is in the mix in the respective club championships next year.
The committee of each club must have a clear vision of expectations for the next one to three years. This could be to win a championship at a particular grade, win a league, survive in a particular grade or bring youth through.
This decision will ultimately impact on the direction of a team. Will they provide the necessary resources in terms of management, strength and conditioning, physiotherapists, statistic packages etc? Will they be patient and realise that year one is a building block or is it instant success they want?
Players have to assess their goals and commitment levels. Are they willing to put the hard work into winter strength and conditioning programs? Will they shelve plans to travel in the summer? In some cases, will they give it one more year? Are injured players prepared to put the hard yards in on their rehab? Are they happy to be bar stool warriors and talk about plans or are they willing to lift standards with hard work?
This time of year is when the managerial merry go round is at its peak. Clubs will be sticking or twisting with current management.
Some clubs will change up the coach and, indeed, many managers and coaches will be looking for a new challenge themselves. I guarantee anyone reading this that you’ve heard a million rumours of managers going to a certain club.
WhatsApp has a lot to answer for, just look at the Kieran Donaghy fiasco. I have been rumoured to be taking Kilmacud next year, a rumour that I started and that only my Mum would believe. Ultimately, the clubs that align in all these areas will be more likely to be successful. Whilst a certain amount of down time and detachment is absolutely vital to recharge and refocus, it is imperative that the seeds for next year are sown in the near future.
You must ask yourself one question – come the big games next season, do you want to be watching them or in them?
From Sunday’s experience it is obvious that Ardee got all these things right in the off-season last year and good luck to them on a well-deserved championship. The rest of the clubs in Louth and throughout the country must now do the same if they want the rewards.