The work goes on for Fintan

All-Ireland Under-21 'B' Hurling Final: Kerry v Wicklow

Fintan O'Connor. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Fintan O'Connor. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Timmy Sheehan

Fintan O'Connor, who is part of the back-room for the Under 21s team, feels that the competition can be hugely beneficial to the senior set up and it provides much needed game time for players during the part of the season when hurling conditions are most ideal.

"Meath, really showed us, they won it last year and they probably got six through from that Under 21 team to their Senior team. It gave them a massive boost and it showed. They won their division in the National League and they were really competitive in the round robin.

"So they definitely got an awful lot out of it. It was nearly a springboard for them going forward. Our first game against Donegal maybe, lacked a little bit of quality, but it was still a good game for us, because we really hadn't played together as a team up until that so we probably needed it.

"The Meath game, the last day, maybe, flattered us a little bit on the scoreline. We took our chances really well, they left a few chances out there, so, it was a real good game to see what fellows were like and to play in Thurles in that environment is good for young fellows.

"It puts pressure on them going out and that's what you want to see whether they are able to cope with it and if we can get four or five, new fellows into our Senior panel it will be a massively beneficial competition.

"Everybody says they need to work on the weaker counties, to develop it and bring it on, and,for that to happen we need to be hurling for longer, and training together at the right time of the year, playing in the summer, in the heat, when the ground is good, the ball is going faster, everybody's hurling is better and crisper, and, that's why the Under 21 competition is so important."

Working alongside Ian Brick in this particular set up is just a continuation of their partnership and their roles in the Senior set up.

"Myself and Ian have worked together in this, and, probably have worked the same at Senior. The Manager is a title, and, you probably have to wear the bib, but the workload and effort that goes in is nearly the same and the same for Ian with the Seniors.

"Ian puts in massive work with the Seniors, it's no different than me. I suppose I try to back him up or pay him back in the Under 21s and look I think if you don't have a good backroom team with you, you won't succeed.

"I know in the Senior last year, Ian, Maurice and everyone I had involved with me were very supportive of me and I just hope that I can give Ian the same level of support in this."

The much discussed and criticised sweeper system is often misunderstood, but while it takes time to perfect it has its benefits, perhpas not for players who are starting out on their careers at under age.

"You need to work at it, you need a player who is naturally able to play it, some of what Tadhg De Burca will do would be very natural, as opposed to being coached, he can read the game without anybody telling him.

"It takes years of work, and, that's what Waterford are probably after doing, they seem to get better and better at it as they have gone on. It's very hard to combat a sweeper, but it's also very hard to combat a team that can change and are fluid at changing and it's a huge level of comfort with each other to be able to thrust each other to move and rely on somebody to cover for you when you are gone.

"Teams want to win and want to set up to win and if a team thinks they have a better chance of winning by playing a sweeper and conceding less goals. Whether young fellows should be trained to play a sweeper, I think young fellows should be trained to play and if they are trained to play well enough they will be comfortable to play in that position.

"You don't want to hamstring them with too much tactical. I think a young fellow should be free to go out and play and learn how to play hurling rather than being really focused on being told where to stand, because he will never get a grasp on reading a game if he is coached too much, so, by giving them a little bit of freedom they will probably learn how to play better."


Promoted Links

Promoted Links