Donegal and Mayo – under pressure
Both sets of fans are hoping desperately they’ll be the ones to take the legendary trophy home with them and who can blame them?
It’s been a long time coming for both counties, with Donegal’s last and only Senior Football Championship victory twenty years ago.
Mayo, despite reaching the final in 2006, hasn’t seen a win since 1951.
Both teams have worked extremely hard to get where they are and their fans are behind them one hundred per cent.
As a result, the pressure on both teams this week is massive. Optimistic shopkeepers in Donegal are already selling souvenirs predicting a win for the boys in gold and green and hopes are equally high in Mayo.
So what advice would you give the lads as they gear up for what could be the game of their lives this Sunday?
One man who knows a lot about managing pressure is Eddie O’Sullivan, former Ireland rugby coach, who shared some tips with Newstalk this week.
“If you deliver the performance of your lives and you do all that and still lose the game – there’s nothing you can do about it. You can only control what you can control.
Wise words. Pressure (in manageable amounts) can help provide you with the focus you need in the lead up to a match, public speaking event, or any event you feel nervous about.
The trick is not to let the expectations of others weigh too heavily on your shoulders. Dealing with a stressful event can be hard enough. Remember your family and friends want the best for you. They’ll be proud of you whether or not you bring home trophies.
If you are feeling under pressure try to use it to motivate and encourage you – but don’t let it control you or you’ll begin to feel overwhelmed.
Try practicing some deep breathing exercises to slow down your mind and calm your nerves.
Make sure to get a good night’s sleep before the big day and don’t resort to alcohol or caffeine to soothe your jitters – they’ll only make things worse.
Take some time out for yourself, whether it’s taking a long walk alone with your thoughts, or chilling out in front of a movie.
Taking the players advice
One player who appreciates the value of taking time out for himself is Donegal full forward Michael Murphy.
“We aren’t totally cocooned from the whole hype, but we’re not too exposed to it either.
“You have to find a happy medium where you can go down the town and chat about the game and then go and find your own space, whether it be the local pitch or the back of a field or on the beach,” he told the Irish Times today.
Meanwhile, Mayo midfielder Barry Moran is using the well wishes of the supporters to boost his confidence this week, not to increase his pre-match nerves.
“Anyone that comes up and says hello to you and wishes you well are sincere about it and taking time to wish you the best of luck. It could be distracting but, for me personally, I actually like it.”
Whatever the outcome of the match, the nation will be nothing but proud of the thirty determined men that line up for their counties this Sunday.