|Selected questions from our interview with captain David Perry:
Talk us through the selection process for your team.
The bulk of the Open team was selected on the basis of a one-day trial held in November last year. Looking back, that seems like an act of absolute insanity -- Irish beach weather is usually conducive to hypothermia at even the best of times -- but thankfully it all went quite smoothly and we had a well-attended, good standard trial from which to pick a team. Out of that, we picked a panel of 15 players and intended to finalise the team after our first training weekend. This didn't go according to plan: three players dropped out of that panel due to financial issues and other commitments, while another took a place he was offered on the Mixed team. The solution was to draft in two replacements who were effectively trialled at training and were added to the squad.
How has your team's season gone so far? What tournaments have you played?
The season has been a long one. As I said, only a handful of the squad had previously played on an Ireland beach team together; in addition, the squad comes from fairly disparate backgrounds, so our players didn't have a lot of time together on the same college or club teams. Given that, we were effectively building from the ground up, so we started training in January to give ourselves time to get ready by ECBU. We a shaky start, predictably enough: it was clear from early practice games that our team didn't really have any familiarity with each other and this led to some basic mistakes. From there, we worked hard, with a total of four training weekends and two tournaments. The pay-off has been huge, and we've really come a long way as a squad.
In terms of tournaments, we played a makeshift domestic one against Irish club teams at the end of March. In May, we travelled to Le Pouliguen in France to play Yes But Nau. It gave us the chance to face up against very talented and experienced opposition and it was an incredibly valuable experience which taught us some good lessons ahead of ECBU.
Which teams are you looking forward to playing against the most in Spain and why?
I'm looking forward to a game against the Portugese. The Ireland Open team lost to Portugal in the last game of WCBU 2011. We performed terribly and it was a really disheartening way to end the tournament, so it'd be nice to face up against them again and acquit ourselves better!
Who do you think will be the big contenders for the title in your division?
It's difficult to focus on anyone but the top four: Switzerland, Germany, Italy and GB. They're all incredibly strong but, while I think one of them will walk away with the title, it's impossible to say who at the moment. It's going to very closely-fought.
Where do you think your team will finish?
We're going into the tournament seeded 14th out of 16, but I'm confident that we have the ability to really challenge the teams ahead of us. I don't want to put an exact number on it but I think we'll beat our seed, certainly.|