Colin O’Reilley, C&S UCC Demons Coach
While the half-way point of the campaign comes three months into the playing season our preparation and ground work began in early July. From a coaching perspective the most important job was to find a replacement for Tim as he moved on to coach Division 1 (and doing a great job) and it didn’t take long for me to approach Troy (O’Mahony). While many may not have expected this, Troy had unknowing to himself played a part in our 2013/14 success as he was a great sounding board for me on how the team were performing during the year with an honest and outside view. He understood what we were trying to do and that the 2013/14 season was only the beginning of this journey rather than the end. More importantly he believed in our style of play and was enthusiastic to help us improve on our performances for this season.
With Troy now in place it was up to the players to put in the hard work. We began preseason on the indoor track in the Mardyke as we identified that we wanted to speed our play up this year and play a more free flowing reactive type of game. Preseason is a very hard and lonely place for players but it’s where true character is tested and real team work is built. It’s very easy to quit but as always the lads dragged each other through it and brought the best out of each individual. They set the standard they wanted us to achieve on a daily basis. From there it was 8 games in 3 weeks to prepare for the season. These mini games can be scrappy at times but our objective was to set a winning mentality while implementing and identifying as many effective schemes as possible. From that point of view the preseason was a success and set us up nicely for the run we are on now.
Our schedule to start the regular season was as tough as any I’ve ever been involved in. Seven of our first eight league games were on the road which makes it very hard to experiment as every game your opponents are playing with great intensity and higher purpose to win in front of their home fans. For us to get through the schedule undefeated was a great achievement by all. Even though the road games can be tougher, they do help with the “us against the world mentality” teams need and bring guys closer together as a unit because of this. Week by week our performance improved and guys confidence grew, leading to higher levels of practice and better execution on the weekend. Each week someone new would step up and be a difference maker with guys understanding the whole is greater than any one individual.
We are very happy with how all the players have performed up to now. Last year the foundations were set which was seen in the early part of the season as (Shane) Coughlan, Niall O’Reilly, Adrian (O’Sullivan), Ciaran (O’Sullivan), Lee (Lehmon Colbert) and Kyle (Hosford) all hit the ground running and started the new campaign where they had left off. We were delighted when (Shane) Duggan, (Carlton) Cuff, Niall Murphy and Darragh (O’Hanlon) joined the squad as they give us a nice balance and extra athleticism in our depth chart. They have also added a fresh dimension to the set up both on and off the court which is always needed within a squad. We are in a good place right now with the cup semi-final in a sold out Mardyke coming up this Friday and top of the league table, however as everyone knows there have been no trophies handed out and it’s up to us to continue working hard and see where it takes us.