Carr keeps kicking on in pursuit of glory with Armagh
ARMAGH goalkeeper Anna Carr used to practice her kick-outs up to 150 times a week. She would take a bag of balls to a field and just do kick after kick after kick.
It's no wonder she is among one of the best goalkeepers in the country and her inclusion in the Lidl National Football League Division Two Team of the League is testament to that.
Thankfully, says Carr, with a dedicated goalkeeping coach and the emphasis that has been placed on a strength and conditioning in recent years has meant she doesn't have to do quite as many kick-outs. She has been a goalkeeper for the best part of 10 years and over the course of the last decade she has seen how the position has evolved.
“I still keep five balls in the car but I think I have tried my muscle memory enough to get the kick-out, the connection right,” said Carr.
“We have a dedicated goalkeeping programme when it comes to strength and conditioning, our pitch training sessions are goalkeeper focussed with Shane [McCormick].
“Obviously Rory Beggan and Niall Morgan have pushed on how the goalkeeper role is played and how it is played in ladies' football is probably a few steps behind but the role has moved on over the last few years, it has become a clinical role. Having a dedicated goalkeeping coach is massive and every inter-county team needs to have one.”
She might not venture as far out the field as Beggan or Morgan but she knows she is there as an outlet for team-mates and she will always weigh up the pros and cons of taking the ball on and heading outfield.
“It's something you decide on a match-by-match basis. If a team-mate is stuck in the corner I am there as an outlet but I will always consider if I do move up the pitch my team-mates who are having to cover for me, are they comfortable standing in the goals and if the ball breaks down, we are all out of position. You have to think about the reward that comes with the risk, is it worth it?”
Carr will be between the posts for Ulster champions Armagh as they defend their title against Donegal in Sunday's TG4 Ulster Senior Championship final in Clones (3.45pm).
She is really looking forward to the game and is expecting an epic battle between the sides.
“I do think it's the biggest clash between the sides yet. We are really looking forward to playing a Division One team and coming up against some of the best players in the county,” said the Carrickcruppen player.
“There's a real rivalry there too going on the last five or more years and both teams are at a standard now where every game we both play, we want to win. We were really disappointed to have lost the Division Two league final to Kerry and we want to want to win this final and keep the Ulster title.”