I was looking forward to going home for the Irish Nationals after a pretty average start to 2015, and hope to use the event as a spring board to kick start the second half of the season etc. Arriving in Dublin I was having some issues with my back which added a little extra stress and it was going to be a good test managing it for the weekend!
With the improvements of Brian Byrne coupled with the emergence of lads like Sean Conroy,Michael Craig and the experience of some of the older players it was a good strong Irish draw. I did feel though that the tournament was mine to lose and that as long as I didn’t take anything for granted Id have enough to pull through.
I met Stevie in the semi. As expected the 1st game was close and winning that 12/10 relaxed me and the next 2 were 11/3 and 3. Though the scoreline is a little harsh on Stevie as there was some tough rallies! Always good to play this lad, hes been around since the 40s, super experienced and over the years ive learned a lot from him.
The final pitched me up against fellow Carlow man and a close friend Brian Byrne. It was a match I was excited about, and not at the same time. I knew he had improved, worked hard and was up for it, but I just had to focus on myself.
I was ready for a hard opening but expected a slow start from Brian, adapting to the pace, thinking the second he’d give it a good push. Winning the first 11-4, a sizable lead in the second and game ball at 10/8 I got a little complacent,played a couple of loose points coupled with Brian playing well and it was 1all before i knew it. Not a great start going 6/3 down in the third but once I got back on level terms in that set I never really looked back closing the last 2 games out 11/7 11/4, it was a solid performance and I was as happy as I was relieved!!! and to celebrate it with me family felt great…. But I felt for Brian too, who played great and how he’s improved considering he lives in a town with a population of 28 people is to be noted!
The Europeans will be a great test for us as a team – narrowly missing out on promotion last year, with everyone improving were in good shape…