KEITH Ricken doesn’t like the terms ‘manager’ or ‘management’.
‘That suggests there is one person with overall responsibility for all decisions but the vast majority of decisions are made by players, and they are made by players in the heat of battle and in the spur of the moment,’ the Cork U20 football manager explains.
That’s Ricken’s official title but he doesn’t see himself as a manager. Instead, him and his management team are arming the Cork U20 players with the ability to solve problems. They did that against Kerry and won the Munster final and he hopes they will make the right decisions too in Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final against Tyrone.
‘I was delighted with the win against Kerry but I wasn’t surprised. The lads have been playing well and they have been growing with every training session and every game,’ Ricken says.
‘Confidence doesn’t come from playing well, confidence comes from solving your problems and to know that you have the ability to solve your problems.
‘Getting confidence from just playing well is a very light veneer, it’s shallow, what we are trying to do is get a bit of depth to the lads. We are asking them to solve the problems out on the pitch and seeing can they do that.
‘If you start off having a bad game or your fella is getting the better of you, what are you going to do about it? How are you going to think your way through this? This is a big part of their development.
‘Their confidence will come from within. It won’t come from beating Kerry. The confidence will come from knowing they can solve problems and that’s where the confidence has come from this group at the moment.’
As for Ulster champions Tyrone, Cork are very much focussed on themselves.
‘You can fall into a trap by looking at the opposition too much. It can be a distraction sometimes. You need to look at your own stuff – what did we do right, what did we do wrong and where can we improve? That has been our mantra all year,’ Ricken says.
‘We have seen Tyrone play and we have watched the videos as well but every game takes on a life of its own. These are young lads so there is a lot of chance and a lot of choices.
‘We will concentrate on what we want to do as best we can.’