Northern Ireland’s players are not used to prolonged periods away together, but captain Steven Davis has revealed the board game ‘Balderdash’ has helped stave off any potential boredom in Austria this week.
Boss Michael O’Neill followed up sessions in Manchester, Dublin and Belfast by taking his players away to a training camp over the border from Slovakia, whom they face on Saturday in Trnava.
The tranquil atmosphere was exactly what O’Neill wanted ahead of the intense hype that will follow at Euro 2016 later this month and the squad were able to keep themselves occupied too by playing a game based on the concept of bluffing.
“We’ve been playing ‘Balderdash’,” midfielder Davis explained.
“I played it for the first time last night with a few of the lads so I’m still getting used to the rules myself.
“It’s been good just to get the boys together. You have to try and find ways to relax that work in with the training schedule.
“Basically it’s a game and there are different events. Such and such happened in America in the state of what? Everybody gets an answer and you have to pick which one you think is correct. If somebody picks your answer you get points. There are some really crazy answers.”
O’Neill has been delighted by the mood in the camp as the players bid to extend their unbeaten run to 12 games by avoiding defeat against the team which defeated Germany last weekend.
“The mood since the players came into camp since day one has been very positive,” O’Neill noted.
“We’ve tried to do different things with them. Obviously we had the opening day in Dublin with Rory (McIlroy) coming in which was a good lift for everyone and they all enjoyed that.
“We’ve had enough to keep the players occupied. They weren’t too long in Belfast, and there is a lot going on around the thing.
“We’ve got our lovely suits now which everyone loves. We had to do that and loads of little things you wouldn’t have to deal with in a normal international week which keeps the players occupied and that’s nice.
“We have players sitting playing board games at night and that’s quite refreshing to see that. They spend an awful lot of time together. The mood is really superb.
“At the outset of the tournament, I said we will make sure we try and enjoy this whole experience.”