My last playing season was the 2003-2004 season - fatherhood has really put paid to any spare time for me and the result has been a few extra pounds around the belly. Indeed, life since 2004 has been rather sedentary!
Getting a call-up to play for the 1st XI was certainly a shock - especially as I didn’t really get a call-up at all! The explanation for my inclusion seemed plausible enough and I decided that maybe I could help out this once.
The prospect of facing Down never really appealed to me. Facing them with what must be the most inexperienced 1st XI team I have ever seen take to the pitch meant the result was never going to be in question.
Despite the score-line - 12-1 defeat is the second heaviest defeat I have evered experienced in 21 years of hockey with the heaviest being a 12-0 hammering at the hands of Lisnagarvey - there were a number of positives to take from the match.
Positive 1 There was no nastiness!
Positive 2 The team is young and will gain plenty of experience in the coming months/years.
Positive 3 George is actually a great goalkeeper!
Positive 4 Robin Smyth and Andy Bell will, if they stay focussed and continue to work hard, represent Ulster at junior level.
Positive 5 The 2nds won!
Positive 6 I didn’t collapse in a heap although I’m still suffering aches and pains!
The difference between East Antrim and Down wasn’t as great as the scoreline suggested. It came down to one team being confident on the ball and making right decisions and the other team being shaky on the ball and being too indecisive.
Skill wise - not much difference. Fitness wise - not much difference. Experience - huge difference. 12-1 doesn’t really matter at this stage. What matters is that the players continue to try to do the right thing.
As you can image from having had 21 years playing for the Club, I have my own views on how things can improve but I’m quite sure that the Club will go in the right direction whether I air my views or not.