Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Interview #6 - Liam Fletcher (C)

A man of many talents is Liam
Hey Liam, all well?
Doing well thanks!..taking a well deserved break from final year nonsense to do this..

Along with Emer and the coaches, you guys have put together a pretty tidy team for Worlds. Talk us through the process from getting captaincy to selecting your panel.
Emer was the driving force for putting together the initial bid for the captaincy. It was her idea and she put all the work into the bid (and has continued to do most of the work throughout), I kind of just went along with it! We selected Ian French as our head coach because he has coached us both for the past few years and we knew he would be the right person for the job. When we were selecting the panel, we wanted to make a team as opposed to a group of the 'best' players. Before the trial, we made a list of specific positions and we set about filling these with the most suitable players. It made the selection process a bit easier for me as people were competing for different positions as opposed to one of the 20 or so in the squad.

Ah she does great work altogether! Last weekend saw the team have its first warm up tournament, UK Mixed Tour 1. What was the team's approach to the weekend? Were results high on your list of priorities?
We treated it as just that - a warm up tournament. We wanted to go and just play our game and learn. Results really didn't matter, as long as we were learning form the games and staying positive.

How did Day 1 go? Where were you seeded and what was the competition like?
Day one went really well. We were probably under seeded a bit so our group games could have been more competitive. Our D-line preformed amazingly, keeping our O-line off the pitch for most of the day but when they did finally come on they calmly put away the score.
You can't stop me!
Liamo rips a disc down over 2 defenders and a teammate
And what changed, if anything, on Day 2?
Day 2 for the most part went the same way as Day 1. Our games were a little closer with teams like Golden Ants having very experienced players and different zone defences causing problems to both of our lines, but in the end we came out on top in the first two games. Our last game of the weekend was against a strong team in Magic Toast. They had a very experienced team full of players from some of the biggest clubs in the uk. They played very physical defence and rattled us with their rough marks. We traded for most of the game but in the end lost it 14-12.

So you came away with just the one loss in the last game. That's great going! What do the team need to work on to improve from here?
Yeah it was great. I think it was the best outcome for the team. Everyone will remember the feeling of losing that tight game and it will hopefully spur them on in their training and fitness over the coming months. I think the mental part of our game is a big aspect we need to work on. We let teams get in our heads at times, especially in the last game and it affected our performance.  

Next up is Windmill Windup in June. How do you expect the team to get on?
I think Windmill will be a great challenge for the team. The format should help us get the competitive games we need, especially for the O-line, who didn't get much pitch time in Cardiff. We're very excited to play some of the top mixed teams in Europe at such an amazing tournament. Again, results won't be very important to us, we'll just be looking to keep building until the main event in July. 

Liam skys two UCC defenders
(one being Irish teammate Oisín)
You've had some success in the Mixed division before playing with some strong outfits in the past, UCD and Jabba to be specific. Tell us about your 2012 Mixed season.
The 2012 season was incredible. For UCD, we had a really strong, experienced core of players and it just kind of came together on the day. We only had a couple of mixed training sessions before hand so we weren't incredibly well prepared but the talent in our team gave us the confidence and belief that we coud win. It was great to win the trophy at ours as well and to have UCD alumni come out to spur us on in the final.
Jabba's 2012 season was a completely different story. The club as a whole worked exceptionally hard all year, often training twice on Saturday and at least once during the week. It was amazing to field 3 competitive teams, filled mostly by people who attend these numerous training sessions. To finally lift the trophy that the club have chased for a few years was unbelievable. I look forward to defending the title next month.

Something we haven't done before, but might make a trend of, is asking the public to ask the team questions. What one UCD and Jabba teammate would like to know is: 
Are there similarities between captaining an Irish team and last year's UCD team, as both team had/have high expectations both internally and externally?
Ian French coached both teams so I guess they have a very similar playing styles / mentality. Another similarity is the level of experience. At the college level, you always have various degrees of experience ranging from beginners to people playing for years. On this Irish team there are huge fluctuations in level of playing experience. There are people who have played juniors, u23 or senior ultimate (with some having played all 3!) internationally and then there are people such as myself who have never been lucky enough to represent our country. 
As far as captioning goes they are quite similar teams, even sharing a few players from last year's UCD team, but the circumstances are very different.  Representing your country always carries a certain weight of expectations and I hope I can lead the team to fufill these.

Standard question: Who do you want to play/beat most in Toronto?
I want to play everyone to be honest! I know that every team there will be top quality so they will all be great opponents. 

Tell us your best joke.
'Doctor, I can't stop singing 'Sex Bomb''.
'That sounds like Tom Jones syndrome' he said.
'Is it common?' I asked. 
'It's not unusual' he replied.

Cheers Liam, best of luck with the rest of the season.

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