With the season in plain sight, the barest baby step away in the thousand mile journey that is the offseason, now seemed the perfect time to catch up with John Romanoski, Head Coach of the Dublin Dragons. The Dragons posted a 6-2 record last year and came second in an IAFL-1 bursting with challenges, but a year in the new look SBC holds many first time obstacles to a relatively inexperienced Dragons team. We sat down with John to ask him, among other things how the Dragons would fare this season.
Double Coverage: What are your keys to success for the year?
John Romanoski: Hard work and dedication are the keys to any success. As long as it is done intelligently. My coaches used to call it stick-to-it-iv-ness. You gotta stay focused on your goals, whatever they are. We have a few here this season and the fellas are working hard to get there. We also have got to understand that this is a process. The goals we have are for the organization, not just on the field this year. Every day is a building block to the next. Progression is what we are after.
Paraphrasing Arthur Ashe “An important key to success is confidence, and a key to confidence is preparation.”
DC: How are you feeling about the jump from IAFL-1 to SBC?
JR: Competition is tougher. Gotta work twice as hard to get half as far. The division is awesome. I mean we got an opportunity to play The Rebels twice, Belfast AND go to Limerick outside the division. Not to mention playing the cream of last year’s IAFL-1 crop to start the season. Not sure if we upset the schedule gods but that is a true test of our team’s ability and stick-to-it-iv-ness for sure. If we weather this season with our heads high, we will be on a very solid path.
DC: Favourite game last year?
JR: Tough question I guess. Not really one for favourites really. Every win was fun and every loss stung.
DC: Worst game last year?
JR: Easy, losing to Tullamore. The fellas played well enough to win. The coaches made mistakes. I take that loss. And I take it hard. I learned a lot from it though and hopefully I grew as a coach from it. Always learning.
DC: Who has made you feel most welcome to Irish football around the league?
JR: 99% of the American Football community here has been amazing. There are so many smart football minds around. Players (on my teams and against), coaches and the lot have been very welcoming and helpful to me. There are a few of them that I honestly do not know where I would be without them. I am humbled by it all really.
DC: How awesome was it seeing team Ireland’s success and how did you guys pull a team together with only a few practises?
JR: As a coach, to represent a nation was surreal. The victory was fantastic. I hope and believe that after all the clamouring I have seen regarding putting together a real national squad, coupled with the success of last year’s U20’s, we will see the seeds being sown for the future of Team Ireland. But again, it must be smart. It needs to be thought out and planned properly, and I think it is. As to doing it on only a few practices, the guys all had the basics, it was all about dedicating a small amount of time in the smartest way. The coaches, all the finest of men, had a plan and the players bought in. More time would have been nice though.
DC: Are you looking forward to a season of special teams every game?
JR: It is just not a complete game without them. They always make for the craziest plays and great opportunities. Cannot be weak on special teams.
DC: How did you feel about automatic promotion?
JR: Have no problem with being promoted. Have a problem with the communication from the league regarding it. I understand that they work hard and volunteer their time to run a large (and always growing) league on a national scale, but they must prepare themselves for it. Communication must improve officially. I know that hard work was done to try to do what is best for the league as a whole but in this case there was an obvious lack of communication between the board members themselves let alone amongst the teams. But as to The Dragons being promoted, if you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch. We start in the yard Sunday.
DC: The dragons have had a few false dawns in the past, but soon collapsed. What is the key to sustaining success from year to year?
JR: Commitment to each other. Trust and respect. Open lines of communication. Strong relationships and bonds. We get those right, we keep progressing.