Week 8

Monday was all about recovery.  We are learning a lot about recovery and nutrition and these things are controllable that can make us better as a team so it is important we do them as best we can. Tuesday we trained at Blacktown.  Afterwards we took a bus to Sydney and sang on the way there.  The boys thought “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus would be pretty appropriate for me and I even got up and sang along with Alicia Keys for the chorus of “Empire State of Mind”.  Don’t think I am going to win any singing competitions any time soon.

We took a tour of the Swans’ facilities and it was really special because we went while the players had training.  I learned some valuable things about recovery and how no two players really do the same amount of training week-to-week because everyone recovers differently and reacts differently to the workloads of a game.  If I remember rightly, the medical staff take over 100 points of analysis to see how a player pulled up after a game.

I saw Tadgh Kennelly during the tour and told him ‘up the rebels’ because he is from Kerry, the rival county of my parents’ home Cork.  I don’t think he was too happy with the heckling that myself and (fellow Corkonian on the team) Muiris were giving him.

Wednesday we lost to Queensland by three goals in a game that probably could have gone our way if we had a bit more luck.  However, we were very proud of our efforts and especially happy to hear that we had a reputation for being a hard-tackling team that was not easy to play against.  We felt that we were earning some respect and making a name for ourselves.

Thursday we went to Bondi Beach where there was a rip tide that swept us outside the safety flags while we were doing our recovery.  It was a pretty funny story afterwards but it was a little nerve-wracking being outside the flags trying to get back to shore and going nowhere.  Afterwards we went into the Sydney city center.  We went to the opera house, saw the harbor, and even ate with a view of the whole scene, opera house and harbor included.  Add in the fact that it was a beautiful day and I was pretty happy with my time in the city.

Friday we had our last training session at Blacktown.  It was kind of sad knowing we wouldn’t train together as a group again, but also a good reminder of how far we had come along as a unit since when we first met up. Saturday we had our much-anticipated game against the very physical South Pacific team.  Again we were down by 17 points at 3-quarter time (we were down by the same margin against Queensland, too) but we came out victorious.  One of the highlights came before the game even started when both teams did their own Haka.  I posted the video on the New York Magpies facebook page so check it out and ‘like’ the page while you’re at it. Another highlight was Adam ‘Real Deal’ Saad’s absolute belter of a mark in the last quarter.  He denies it, but it was probably hands in the back.

That night we went out together for some Lebanese food.  It was really delicious.  Some of it probably was not the healthiest but we wanted to celebrate with some good food.  The next day we all got on the bus and we were off to the airport and said our goodbyes.  It was sort of an abrupt ending to an amazing experience, but I don’t think anything really quite goes the way you see in the movies.  You just say your goodbyes and thank you to everyone and head home.

Speaking of saying thanks, I just want to take a final opportunity to say “thank you” to some people who played in integral part in my trip.  First to Glenn Ormsby (Coach), Ed McCormick (President) and the New York Magpies for getting me to where I am in footy (and the first coach Rob Oliver) and getting me down to Aus this summer.  Also, I have to thank Rob, Kes, Han, and Locky Oliver (and all of the in-laws) for having me and making my stay an absolute blast.  To Prahran FC and Uni Blacks for letting me train and play with them, especially to Steve Cerni my coach for two weeks with the Blacks who taught me a lot of valuable things about footy and footy culture in the short time I spent with him, thank you.

On the World team I have to thank coaches Chris Johnson and Mick Ablett for being awesome mentors and Peter Romaniw for organizing everything.  Also thanks to everyone else who played a role in the team getting ready for the games and being good teachers and friends: Mick, Nish, Amesy, Schneids, Todd and Johnny.  Thank you to all the clubs who let us use their facilities and to especially Collingwood, Shae McNamara and Jonathon Bernard for taking in a fellow Magpie.  And finally, thanks to the boys on the World Team.  We made for a pretty awesome unit.

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