In our final interview before Sundays IAFL 1 Bowl, we spoke to rising star Anton Nulty. Anton has reached a Bowl game in his first year of senior football, and will be looking to build on his success from junior football.
Turning 18 during the senior season, you joined the senior roster when most of the guys had already had a few games under their belt. Was it difficult to settle into the team mid-way through the season?
“Not at all actually. I have trained with this squad for a few years meaning I knew all the players who were extremely welcoming, as well as this it meant I knew what plays and schemes we would be running so I fit into the squad perfectly. All this got me extremely excited to start playing senior ball.”
What has been the biggest challenge going from junior football to seniors?
“The main difference is the speed and intensity at which the game is played, this is part in parcel with the size difference between juniors and seniors. Transitioning from going head to head with a small, skinny 16/17 year old to 6'4" 240lb athletes really makes you grow out of a junior mind-set rather quickly.”
A good regular season was followed by a shootout win against the Wexford Eagles in the playoffs. What have you been doing in the time between the playoffs and Sunday coming to prepare yourself?
“Post Eagles match I spent time recovering from the long hard fought match we had just played. Since then I have been going to the gym to make sure I am as physically prepared as I can be. In addition to the tape and training to mentally prepare myself for such a big game I feel I'm in the best shape for the match I could be at this point in time.”
Having been on the side line to watch the last game between the Cowboys and Mavericks, what are the Mavericks biggest threats?
“The Mavericks have some impressive receivers and having witnessed first-hand some of the great catches at the last game we certainly have our work cut out for us. This combined with their QB who is willing to linger in the pocket for an extended period and even take a big hit in order to deliver the perfect pass will certainly make the match an interesting one.”
And finally, what are your predictions for Sunday’s game?
“Both teams have all to play for in this big game, so I'm predicting a tough, hard fought match and a great contest. However having watched and played with our talented Cowboys side I must predict a Cowboys win this Sunday.”
4 days left until the big game on Sunday, we caught up with senior team Head Coach Greg Loughran to get his views on the season so far:
An almost perfect season with the Bowl game to come, what has been the main reason for the success this season?
“We have been able to hold our core of players together and recruited well in the off season. Keeping our core of experienced players together allows us to pick up where we left off last season without having to look at new schemes and bringing in some really talented rookies gives us fresh impetus and shares the load on game day. Our Offensive line has been pretty stable which is a huge advantage and accounts for our ability to keep scoring against strong defences.”
The Cowboys have previously taken on Louth during the regular season, recording a 20-7 win. What are you expecting from the Mavericks on Sunday?
“I don't think that the score fairly reflects our meeting with the Mavericks in May. We dodged a lot of bullets in that they had a number of crucial dropped catches and a score called back. They must be pretty confident following their win against the Vipers but we have been studying and feel confident that we have done our homework and will come out on top.”
Having been beaten at home by a point to the Vipers, the ‘Boys bounced back to force a shutout in a 12-0 win away to the Vipers the week after. Was the loss a wake-up call for the team?
“The Vipers fully deserved their win on the day, we can't take that away from them but I do feel that we were not at our best that day. In the return game we were fully focused on the game and worked hard on ignoring the distractions that hurt us so badly in the first game. I was pretty dismayed that in a Vipers report on the second fixture, they claimed that the highlight of the game was an incident that resulted in one of our players being taken out of the game due to an injury. Not my idea of sportsmanship. Players can get injured in our sport but it is never a highlight nor something to gloat about.”
(Article Referenced: http://www.donegaldaily.com/2017/07/19/picture-special-all-not-lost-for-donegal-derry-vipers-despite-home-game-loss/)
There has been a 4 week gap between the playoff game and the Bowl game, has this been advantageous for the team?
“Such a long gap between games has its benefits and problems. The break gives players time to recover and heal up, especially as we had two tough games so close together before the break. However we had developed strong focus on winning the previous two games and this will have to be rediscovered for the bowl game if we are to win.”
Finally, what advice do you have for the players taking to the field on Sunday?
“I will tell everyone not to be complacent. This is a bowl game and anything can happen.
We are capable of winning this game but we have to prove it.”
With the IAFL 1 Bowl game this Sunday, it’s clear to see the impact of our junior setup on the senior team as there will be 8 graduates from the junior team playing. We spoke to Junior Representative Scott Buchanan to get his thoughts on this years senior season as well as the junior team:
2016 juniors’ season was a disappointment results wise, however most of the roster has returned to play this year. How much will that experience help this year?
“Last year we had a relatively inexperienced squad, most playing for the first time. Most of them are returning, which is fantastic, and the majority of them have been training with the seniors as well, so they've gained some valuable tips and experience from them. With some players being able to play for the seniors this year, like Anton Nulty and James Rolston, this will bring even more experience into the junior setup.”
Training for the 2017 season is well under way and interest has been at an all-time high. Have you been impressed so far with the guys, new and experienced, at training?
“I have been impressed, it's been great to see so many new guys coming down and giving football a go. Even after a few training sessions, I've seen some improvements in stances, route running etc. The guys returning, their mind set and attitude to football has been massively changed, we don't want another season like last year.”
With that in mind, what are the goals for the junior team this year? Have you any personal goals?
“Main aim for the juniors is to get back to where we were 2 years ago, top of the league with the trophy and medals at the end of the season. Personally, I don't want to give up any sacks this season on offense, and if I'm playing defense, get a few sacks...or a fumble...or an interception. Because that stuff is fun.”
The senior team have had a successful season reaching the Bowl game as well as the flag team making the playoffs. Will the juniors be using that as motivation for this season?
“100%. The other parts of the clubs have pulled their weight, and have (deservingly) gained success from it, so we don't want to let the club down. Plus we want some silverware too!”
What are your predictions for Sunday’s game?
“All I'm going to say is a Cowboys win, I don't want to jinx anything! Good luck to the seniors, the juniors will be supporting!”
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