Trains, planes, cars and boats are all on stand-by for our imminent departure to Guernsey. It's the trip we dreaded all year but now that it is upon us, we are looking forward to the adventure. More importantly, we are eager to take our chance to improve on our showing in the last tournament.
The team is much changed from Leuven. Out go Brendan Lynch, Darragh Cotter, Ciaran Hudson, Paul Gavin, Diarmuid Laffan, Diarmuid Lynch and James O'Dowd; all unavailable. In come Shane Ryan, Ger McMahon, Shane Griffen, Olof Gill, Johnny Phelan, Conchur de Barra and Liam Walsh.
In past years, our A and B teams pursued different styles of play. You could accuse the A team of having a more individual focus whereas the B team was more team focused. In the last couple of months we have set out one template for both teams. It was done so we could counter the situation which presents itself this weekend. With our approach of the last couple of years, we would be cannon fodder this weekend had we not sorted it out.
The transition process between the two teams can now be made much quicker and the lads coming up are going well. Bull has missed a month with injury but his secondment in Toronto over the last twelve months seems to have knocked some of the edges off his game. He looks more composed on the ball and in the tackle.
Ger McMahon has been the big plus of recent weeks. He returned in March after 2.5yrs in Japan. The ramp-up was painful enough for him as he got back in shape. In Maastricht he was good and in Leuven he repeated the performance. At last Tuesday night's training session, he looked powerful and sure of himself. He plays to the plan as well as anyone which makes him a big asset.
Shane Ryan is serving his goalkeeping apprenticeship currently. So far so good and he should gain confidence from the settled defence in front of him.
Unfancied teams are filling the sports pages these days. Carrigtwoill won the Cork SHC for the first time in 94 years last weekend. They were 100/1 at the start of the year and there was no noticeable revolution along the way, just a very quick evolution under a new system and management team. Their hero was Seanie Farrell. Seanie was a star in the 90's winning Minor & U-21 titles with Cork and capping it all with an All-Ireland Senior in 1999.
For an assortment of reasons, Seanie's career never progressed and he mixed some seriously productive spells in his club's jersey with some less than impressive ones. His star has been falling and at the start of this year he was playing Junior B. On Sunday, he came off the bench for his first appearance with the Senior team this year and he fired over the winning score.
If anyone is looking for a bit of inspiration, there is no shortage of it these days. Seanie and Carrigtwoill's story shows the endless possibilities in sport. From tales like that, we should derive the necessary belief that we can still regain the Pan-Euro Championship this year. Impossible is nothing....as the slogan goes....