As we look towards a sporting packed September with the upcoming Rugby World Cup and GAA Football Final, Lincoln Recruitment Specialists were delighted to present a breakfast discussion and Q&A led by two of Ireland’s number 10’s: Ian Madigan and Paul Flynn. They provided us with their insights on leadership, performance, rest and work life balance, coaching, mentoring, and dealing with pressure and expectation, as well as many laughs. Together with MC for the event, Dave McIntyre from Newstalk, they gave as good a performance as if they were out on the pitch, as they soon will be at the Millennium Stadium and Croke Park in the coming weeks.
Coaching and mentorship
The players discussed what it takes to succeed as an athlete from the constant commitment and dedication to finding harmony within a team and a “system that works”. Ian Madigan revealed that one of the most important aspects of his game was in finding a team structure and fitting a style of play, something he has found at Leinster.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”ff7a2b” class=”” size=””]“You’ve got to be able to play in the system, the days of just being able to rely on one or two guys you know are gone,” he revealed.[/pullquote]
He went on to credit Joe Schmidt in guiding him and helping him realise the player he wanted to be, differentiating him from other players. He stated Schmidt challenged him to be the best passer on the Leinster Team whilst also helping him to master his goal kicking.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“With the top international out-halfs you’ll find that they are very good at everything but excellent at one thing; passing is what I tried to be especially good at, and it stood me well to date.”[/pullquote]
Madigan revealed how he had been asked last year by Joe Schmidt to work on the core skills of a scrum half so as to provide potential cover in that role when required. He admitted while an out half was his ideal position, he was willing to do whatever was asked to give himself the best chance of getting in the team.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] “It’s the hard work you do, under good coaches, to fit into a style of play with the team that makes the difference to get you to the biggest occasions,” he revealed.[/pullquote]
Paul Flynn credited the influence of Pat Gilroy at a pivotal point in his career that made the difference.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] “I played on teams and development squads all the way through without ever being the best player on the team but I hung in there, I worked hard” said Flynn. “When Pat became manager of Dublin he saw something in me that fitted his idea of how Dublin should play and that gave me the confidence to keep looking for that little improvement every year to make the team stronger.” [/pullquote]
Pressure and expectation
The question of pressure and expectation is one that Ian and Paul have to face over the coming weeks but both try to block out the noise as much as possible. They discussed how they approach such pressure situations and what is the primary focus.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] “We set our own expectations as a group at the start of the season and it’s important to keep a focus on these and not get distracted by hype, the media or the fans expectations of you, even though ours would be largely the same if not higher, it’s important to try and deliver your best every time,” said Flynn.[/pullquote]
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“It’s the accumulation of meeting short term goals, playing in the moment and doing what you can to make that moment as good as you can, that is how we measure success as a team. At elite level while the focus is on long term goals, all the work is done in the short term,” added Madigan. [/pullquote]
On the topic of trying to focus on the upcoming final, Flynn added that it’s difficult to avoid such conversations at work or with friends, family and people on the street.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“I just try to talk about it as little as possible and then move on to the next conversation, the World Cup has been a great distraction topic actually” joked Flynn.[/pullquote]
Rest and work-life balance
The players discussed the importance of rest and the differences in the ability to rest between games between professional rugby players to GAA players who have to juggle work life in addition to their sporting careers.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“Being a professional rugby player nowadays is not too far off 9-5 job. In a Leinster environment, I would be doing extra video work and I’d be on the physio bed for on average 2-3 hours a day.”[/pullquote]
Madigan also stated how people found it amusing that he has a scheduled nap time every Wednesday afternoon.
Flynn joked that the key to achieving balance in your work, GAA and personal life comes from “Having an understanding boss for one, and having an understanding girlfriend as well”.
In his opinion taking a nap is something that just doesn’t fit in his schedule.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] “Sports professionals get to nap and it is recommended, but I don’t get the opportunity to do it any more, it is just something that doesn’t fit into the schedule,” “We know we should but work and life means it is not always possible. Sometimes you might wonder how much more we could do physically if we had more rest,” mused Denis Bastick who joined the panel discussion towards the end. [/pullquote]
On which stars from the past they would love to have in their team now?
- Ian Madigan: Keith Wood
- Paul Flynn: Kevin Moran
- Denis Bastick: Jason Sherlock
It was brilliant to spend an hour in the company of the two number tens and we got some brilliant insights. Best of luck to Ian Madigan and our colleague Paul Flynn over the next few weeks.
Video series released
Our video series featuring Ian Madigan and Paul Flynn testing out each other’s kicking skills, discussing technique, views on preparation and commitment, passion, drive, leadership and mentorship has recently been launched – click here to watch.
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