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Will ladies benefit from Micko magic?

AS the hours dwindle ahead of Sunday’s All-Ireland intermediate final in Croke Park, the Clare lady footballers will take on board the words of a man who knows more than anyone how All-Irelands are won and lost.
In his playing days, Waterville’s Mick O’Dwyer picked up four All-Ireland winning medals with Kerry, while he was the director of operations on the sideline as Kerry won eight All-Ireland titles from the mid-1970s until 1986.
Since leaving Kerry football, O’Dwyer has guided Kildare and Laois to Leinster titles, while Wicklow played some inspiring football in their six championship outings this year.
Therefore, when Micko appeared in Cooraclare last Friday night, unknownst to the Clare panel, the gasps could be heard 10 miles away at the ferry he had just disembarked from.
The Clare management team had decided that O’Dwyer was the man to talk to their panel as they attempt to bring a second All-Ireland title to the county inside a fortnight and make up for last year’s intermediate final loss to Tipperary.
“I’m not going to tell ye how to play or anything like that. I presume that your trainers and managers have decided on the way that ye’re going to play,” the Kerry legend told his awestruck audience in the meeting room in the Cooraclare GAA clubhouse.
“Don’t change the way you live at any stage. If you go out on a given night, go out that night and go to bed at the same time that you have done for years,” Micko urged.
“The only thing I would advise you, whatever else, don’t drink any alcohol. It’s a total disaster and it’s the one thing that will put you back,” he warned the Clare panel, who burst into laughter on hearing this.
He suggested that Clare forget about their previous experiences and play Sunday’s game on its merits. “Forget about all of the games you’ve played in the past. They make no difference. It’s all about next Sunday. Any player shouldn’t come off the field and say ‘I can go out and play again’. When you’re on the pitch, run, chase and harass. Keep pressure on the player that’s on the ball at all times,” Micko advised.
O’Dwyer also encouraged the Clare girls to keep their eyes peeled for the hour and never to close them. “I think you should always remember, when you’re playing football at any stage of your life, the most important thing of all is both your feet, your hands and above all your eyes. A lot of players, when they go into a tackle, they close the eyes. The very moment you close your eyes when you’re going to contest a ball, it’s a total disaster. You have no control of where the ball is,” he said.
“The way to train your eye at any stage is to get into a handball court at the gable of a house and kick the ball off it. The eye is more important than anything else. If you keep your eyes open you can block, you can challenge, you can do everything. If you close your eyes for only two seconds, in those two seconds so much can happen in a game,” the Wicklow manager added.
On reaching Dublin, O’Dwyer suggested that the Clare panel treat GAA headquarters like home.
“When you go to Croke Park the next day, the most important thing is just think that you’re coming down to Cooraclare to train, over to Kilmihil, down to Kilrush. Don’t be getting keyed up over it. To hell with it, if you’re going to win, you’re going to win; if you’re going to lose, you’re going to lose.
“But the most important thing is, don’t be putting any pressure on yourself at any stage. It will happen anyway on the day, whether you like it or not,” he predicted to rapturous applause as he headed for Dublin himself and last Sunday’s All-Ireland final.

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