There must be some meaning to the quote ‘lucky for some, 13’ as the Liberty Insurance 2013 Hurling and Camogie championships have given us some blockbuster viewing so far this season. Lady Luck may have been lurking for many! So far there have been many drawn games, highs and lows in every corner of the country. It has been an edge of the seat season for all the Gaelic Codes so far and we haven’t even reached semi final stages. Teams have been beaten in provincial games yet they have now earned their way to All Ireland Semi Finals. Clare, Cork, Dublin and Limerick in the hurling, for example. Who would have thought that this would be the Hurling line up in January. These are the remaining four preparing to battle it out for the McCarthy Cup. I’d like to see what the bookies odds were for these teams before the championship started! In any case there will be new champions celebrating in September. A double didn’t cross my mind either. Cork are still in the running for a camogie and ladies football double, Dublin have a definite chance of pulling it off in the Hurling and Football too.
However '13 may also (and traditionally) be known for its association with misfortune. Some people blow it off as paranoia or superstition but others take it quite seriously. The motor industry even came up with the novel 131 and 132 idea as motorists weren’t in favour of driving a new car with 13 on the registration. Although I can’t see anyone turning down a championship just because of the year! The Cork and Kilkenny hurlers were both unlucky with red cards in their respective games, injuries have also caused worry in many camps. While I can’t speak on behalf of all of the counties remaining in the Senior Camogie Championship I know that Wexford’s spate of injuries will make this weekend's Liberty Insurance All Ireland Quarter Final against Offaly in Portlaoise, a heavy task. Perhaps there are other teams in the same position. Galway will have to deal with Tipperary in the second game in Portlaoise. Even though it’s a slightly longer route to a semi final, there are advantages to playing a competitive game this weekend. Nothing beats playing games rather than training.
Personally, it is the mental side of things that is of utmost importance at this stage. All sporting greats can tell you about tough training, putting in good performances and preparation but when it comes to the big day, the Wimbledon Final, the shot for the Open, it’s all about mind over matter. Take Rory McIlroy for example. One of the greatest golfers of our generation, World No.2, yet his implosion at the British Open this year shattered his chances of claiming the title. This is true of any sport. All teams have great players, all teams will have prepared well, all players' fitness will be intact, but will their self confidence and belief?
Mental Preparation is vital. Firstly to train your mind to stay strong even when your body is tiring. Secondly, to remain mentally tuned in to the task at hand. Obviously that changes from sport to sport, team to team etc. One thing is for sure though- if your have a strong mind it will win you many battles on the field of play. Even if your legs are tired, you will find a reserve somewhere. Let’s hope everyone can find their mental steel this weekend. By Sunday it will be down to four teams. I wonder what the bookies odds are on the last four?! Make your predicition and make your way to Portlaoise. Nothing beats being there. Enjoy!
Claire O'Connor, Former Wexford All Ireland winner and All Star, Liberty Insurance Championship Diary. Follow Claire on twitter.com/clairnichon