At the half way point of the season, we caught up with defensive co-ordinator Mark Beattie to talk about the season so far, and the games to come.
Having been with the club for a number of years now, what is your fondest memory?
“There’s a couple of different ones - the obvious one was the comeback victory away to Carrickfergus Knights, coming back from 22-0 down with not much over 5 mins left and scoring a TD on an un-timed down with 0.00 left of the clock was one of the most immense feelings I've ever had from sport, so much so I just fell to my knees when the PAT sailed over the bar. I had some Knights guys worried I was injured, I just said 'No I’m fine, I’m just happy'. It’s the mixture of pure elation and exhaustion that brings out that kind of emotion at the end of a game like that which makes it special.
Also something outside of match days was an End of Season Dinner we had in Laurelvale Cricket Club and we has just been through a tough season that was full of potential but ended in a losing record. There was one point of the night when the DJ played Blue Swede - Hooked on a Feeling and every player was on the floor singing at the top of their voices you suddenly realise this is more than just the few hours on a Sunday playing a sport, it’s a brotherhood.”
How has your experience been so far as defensive co-ordinator?
“It’s been fun but nerve wrecking, got really stuck into learning the defense early on and adjusting schemes to what I think suits us best and against different opponents. I have to say, the players have been fantastic and very receptive to me so that has made it easier but it’s a real challenge trying to outwit an offence and predict what they are doing and how to stop it. Have to give credit to guys like Ivan & Jakub whose contribution has been invaluable, having those guys to help out with different position groups has let me focus on certain areas which need work.
Also having experience in the likes of Jo Buchanan & Gareth McShane who know our defence inside out is great as I can lean on what they know and get good feedback on any ideas, I can also trust them to implement what we are working on and that is key.”
Looking at this season, the defense has conceded an average of 10.25 points a game, how will you look to improve on this?
“A few things: hard work, commitment, enthusiasm and smarts. If we all come together, work our backsides off and make sure we put into games the things we work on in training, then it will come together. Football is a complex game made simple through effort.
If there was one area I would like to see us improve on, it would be turnovers. We need to start turning over the ball and either putting on points on the board ourselves or giving the offence short fields to work with.”
What have been the most pleasing factors of the season so far?
“Personally, the effort put in from the Cowboys defense - we have all bought in to what a Cowboys defense prides itself on: toughness, energy and moxy. I'm not saying we are there yet but with a high level of effort and commitment we will get to where we want to be.”
Two tough road games coming up, what advice do you have for your players for these games?
“Preparation. This comes in all different aspects, preparation of your body - make sure you are well rested, well hydrated and looking after your diet in the build up to games. Preparation of your mind - making sure you are well read up on the playbook and any adjustments, make sure you’re at training to learn any new tweaks we have introduced and make sure you are mentally ready to go to war. There is no team in this island that will let you come into their home field and get an easy time, you have to earn respect and earn each win so get ready to go to the well each time you take the field as you will get a shock if you’re not ready.”
Plans for this year’s Alumni Game where recently announced, how important are events like these for the club?
“Huge, like I said before, this club is a brotherhood and that goes for current players and members to previous players and members that are living locally or further afield. Many people don't understand how long this club has been going and how many great athletes and great personalities have come before you so events like this are key to show how great this wee club is and hopefully it will entice many ex-members to get back involved no matter what their role may be, they are all needed, wanted and appreciated."
Photos by Ian Humes and Ariane Boudias
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