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Steven McDonnell: Playing the game, not the occasional, is the key to replicating the performance of the training ground on D-Day


I’ve seen it often with teams I’ve been involved with, both as a player and as a manager, where a guy is exceptional in training but for some reason struggles to reproduce it on match day.

There are many reasons we train, but the main reason is to achieve the right level of performance for a game. On the flip side, I also met the guy who doesn’t train particularly well but, when it comes to playing games, regularly stands out.

Which of these traits is best suited, especially in a team environment, is up for grabs, but personally I would rather win a game than a practice session.

There could be a psychological reason why a player is not performing well at their workout levels during play time, it could even be due to the player’s readiness in game readiness, but this will never be resolved. only if the player himself decides that is what they want to do.

It will take adjustments here and there, but it is part of the process.

One thing that always helped me focus on training sessions and games was setting a specific goal for myself. It meant I was going to do my best to achieve it, if not exceed it. Management will always have defined team goals, but the individual should also consider their own personal goals.

I think I was a good hard coach but on my first big chance to play in the starting 15 for Armagh at Croke Park in the All Ireland 2000 semi-final I had a nightmare of all nightmares .

I was too caught up in the hype of playing on the holy turf. It was a dream come true for me but in reality it was just another field with a different environment. This environment touched me, however. I remember the pre-game parade, marching to the back of the line with my teammates in front of me and all I wanted to do was watch the crowd. I wanted to capture this atmosphere with all I could but that was my downfall.

I was taken out in the middle of the second half and instead of playing the game I played the occasion. I promised myself that day that this would never happen to me again and I used it for the rest of my career to focus on what I had to do.

Fortunately, it happened when I was quite young so I had the opportunity to correct it. There was a lot at stake in this particular game, but all the build-up and importance of it affected my state of mind, so my level of focus was not on my performance, but more on the day itself.

There’s no way, especially as amateurs, that any of us can be rated nine out of 10 in every game, but you can still play at a level where you have a valuable impact if your training preparation and focus are where they should be. Every player has their own unique thing to do to get it right, but every player has the ability to make it happen, regardless of their skill level.

As an Armagh fan, I was delighted the guys took on the Antrim challenge this weekend. I thought they played some great soccer spells, but to beat Monaghan in the Ulster semifinals, those good spells need to be more frequent and the performance level needs to be improved.

Kieran McGeeney already knows that, but the good thing about their performance this weekend is that we all know there is improvement within the squad.

This is a good sign for a team that they can comfortably win in a league game and that they still have a lot of areas to improve. Armagh are a team making great strides, but Monaghan will see this as a great opportunity to stop them in their tracks, so as mentioned above, focus levels and focus on training over the next couple of weeks. must be a priority.

I recently mentioned in this column about footballers playing with an awareness of what is going on around them and creating space for teammates so that they can open up an opponent.

It might be the forward corner in me, but if you take Rory Grugan’s goal for Armagh against Antrim, look at the run Rian O’Neill does to create this one-on-one scenario for Rory to score. the goal. He comes out wide and Stefan Campbell managed to put a pass inside Rory who was exceptionally successful in winning the ball and burying it in the net. Armagh has quality forwards, but if they keep on thinking like this it will become an even better offense.

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