Taking ownership from the inside

LGFA: Ladies Football All Ireland Senior Football Championship

Eyes forward: The team have really taken ownership of things this year - says Mayo captain Clodagh McManamon. Photo: Sportsfile.

Eyes forward: The team have really taken ownership of things this year - says Mayo captain Clodagh McManamon. Photo: Sportsfile.

The last time that Mayo reached the semi-final of the LGFA Senior Football Championship was only two years ago, when they were narrowly beaten by Galway by a single point in Croke Park.

They will be back there tomorrow afternoon to face Dublin at the same stage of the competition and will also be looking to get back into the final for the first time since 2017.

Two of the key members of the Mayo squad are team captain Clodagh McManamon and Kathryn Sullivan. Last week, both sat down to talk about the game coming up and the ladies game in general.

While McManamon is the county captain this year, it's been a huge effort from all players to take ownership of the team and what they are trying to do in conjunction with the management, she explained.

"I just think that we have gotten so close over the last few years, we needed to bring that extra bit to training or whatever we could. We have been meeting up as players ourselves and having those conversations about games and what we can improve on the pitch.

“Aside from management, we are looking at what are we doing wrong; what can we do right, and that kind of thing. It's been really good, and it is not just the older girls; the whole group is talking, which is really good. Everyone is bringing something to the team.

"The girls who aren’t starting or getting games, they are giving their opinion and I think it is really good to have opinions from everyone across the board."

As for what she felt they learned from these conversations that they needed to improve on, she says: "Intensity and communication was one of the big ones that we have being trying to improve on, and I think intensity did improve, especially in the training sessions after we had those chats and it was just to keep that going in the next few sessions.

"We can’t wait for management to tell us to do something, especially in training if a drill or a game isn’t going well; we have to take it on ourselves. We can’t wait for Michael to tell us what to do or the rest, we need to be quick enough to do it ourselves because on the pitch in a game, we don’t have management there to stop and tell us, come on girls you are not doing it right. We need to up it there."

Needing to be on top of everything right from the get-go is something that has become even more important in the past few years as the level of the game has reached even better heights, according to Sullivan.

"I think the whole professionalism of it, the way we prepare from pre-season to the S&C, nutrition, when I first started we had to bring our own sandwiches for training afterwards. We didn’t have gym sessions, we didn’t know what a gym was and I think that is a massive difference.

"The physicality of it, I know there has been a lot of talk about the tackling and everything else, that is the big thing; the physicality in the game has completely changed and I think when you are doing all this gym work and S&C, there should be a bit more of a flow to the game and I’m hoping it will be like that against Dublin. I’m hoping it will be a good battle; the S&C and nutrition are a big ones for me."

That is a sentiment echoed by McManamon, who said: "It is just a massive difference from the first year we played, you would just show up to training; straight into training, straight home afterwards, you’d train twice a week and there wouldn’t be any S&C really at all. The professionalism is much better, there is a huge backroom team there - we wouldn’t have had that a few years ago either.

"The game itself has come on in leaps and bounds, you just hear people talking about the ladies’ game these days and they just say, it is so entertaining to watch, and that is great; because we need more people watching our games and hopefully, there will be a big crowd in the next day and the supporters will get in for our game as well."

 

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