2011 National Team Trials
Over the weekend of October 29th-31st, twenty-nine Irish Lacrosse players descended on the University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Northern Ireland, in an attempt to be part of the 2011 Irish National Indoor Team. Players travelled from as close as Belfast and as far away as Vancouver Island, Canada in an attempt to prove their worth and grab a roster spot on the 2011 National Indoor Team. The atmosphere was excellent amongst the participants and the facilities were top notch, with Belfast providing an excellent backdrop over the Halloween weekend.
So It Begins!
After the welcome and introductions of the coaching staff by National Teams Director, John Cavanaugh; the action got underway and it was fast and furious from the word go Friday night. Coach Jeff Dowling and his staff including Tom Howe and Abe Conn put the guys through two and a half hours of drills leaving many exhausted from the high tempo but eager to get back the next day.
Saturday morning meant another two and a half hours on the floor that started with a typical warm-up and stretch from John Cavanaugh who prepared the participants for the session to come. The coaches then put the guys through more skill assessments and game-like drills. Nearing the end of practice the lads were handed over to John Cavanaugh to run fitness assessments.
After lunch and a warm-up the players prepared for a green and white scrimmage. The action was fast and furious with many players learning the intricacies of the indoor game on the fly. In the end the Green team emerged victorious over the White team by a score of 11-9.
Saturday night meant an opportunity for the guys to blow off some steam and let their hair down. The team headed down to Villa Italia Restaurant (http://www.villaitaliarestaurant.co.uk/) near Queen’s University for an excellent meal and a chance to converse, relax, and get to know one another.
The Final Session
Sunday morning and one final stretch and warm-up by John Cavanugh got the boys moving and ready for the last session. The coaches put the boys through their paces for a final two and a half hours. A final session of drills, skills, a final 20 minutes for a light scrimmage to end the weekend off, and then a group photo was taken. The team met for some final discussions regarding timelines, financial obligations, thanks, and then 48 hours of intense lacrosse was over.
IL.ie: Coach Dowling what are your thoughts on the weekend?
JD: “I was really impressed with commitment of the players that participated. We had four 2.5 hour sessions in less than 48 hours and there was no quit in any of the players.”
IL.ie: Jeff, what do you think about the effort put in on the field by the players?
JD: “Every player gave everything he could and should be proud of what he showed to the coaches. We will have some very tough decisions in the next 10 days as we look to get our 23 man roster announced to the participants.”
IL.ie: What can you say about having a guy like John Cavanaugh around?
JD: “John was very organized and made things easy for the coaching staff and his experience as an Athletic Therapist definitely was an asset with a few minor injuries that had to be tended to.”
IL.ie: How did the players respond to the session you and the coaching staff had?
JD: “We had a practice plan going in for each session and Abe and Tom helped keep things moving and made sure we had a good flow to what we were doing. Even the players seemed quite surprised on the final day that we were out of time. It didn’t feel like we had been on the turf for 2.5 hours.”
IL.ie: What are your final thoughts coming out of the tryouts and heading into the 2011 WILC?
JD: “I’m looking forward to our camp next May and the World’s in Prague. This group of players bonded this past weekend and I think that will go a long way to us becoming a TEAM.”
All in all the weekend was a huge success from the level of participation, the skill level, coaching and support staff, and finally the effort put in by each and every individual involved. Now the work has been put in and the waiting game for all begins. Whether you make the roster or an alternate, as John Cavanaugh said, “you’re all part of this team” and I don’t think there is one person that would disagree with that statement.
Finally, a huge thanks for the University of Ulster for being so accommodating and Villa Italia Restaurant for hosting the team, their hospitality was excellent.