SIDELINE CHAT with Seán Ó Domhnaill

Seán Ó Domhnaill All Ireland Gaelic football winner with Galway 1998 and 2001

7 March 2004; Sean O'Domhnaill, Galway. Allianz Football League 2004, Division 1B, Round 4, Galway v Limerick, Duggan Park, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. Picture credit; Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

7 March 2004; Sean O'Domhnaill, Galway. Allianz Football League 2004, Division 1B, Round 4, Galway v Limerick, Duggan Park, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. Picture credit; Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Seán Ó Domhnaill All Ireland Gaelic football winner with Galway 1998 and 2001 Club: An Cheathrú Rua. Age 46.

At what age did you start playing? As far back as I can remember. I always enjoyed kicking a football around with my older brother in the front garden at home.

Do you remember your first game? Not really, but it would have been for my national school, Scoil Mhic Dara here in An Cheathrú Rua at the age of 10 or 11 in a local schools' competition.

What is your ideal position and why? Midfield. I played most of my football career at midfield, the midfield position was always a very physically demanding position. You knew if you won the midfield battle, there was a good chance you would win the match.

Who inspired you when growing up? All my under-age trainers and senior managers inspired me in some way or another. I also loved watching Brian Mullens for Dublin and Jack Ó Shea for Kerry when I was growing up, both had very different styles but, in my eyes, were the best midfielders at that time.

Did you also aspire to play at the top level? Not at the start,. I suppose as I got older and improved and got more confident, I wanted to challenge myself and to play and challenge the best, and to do that you have to play at the top level. Luckily enough I was able to achieve that.

What do you particularly like about your sport? It has changed tactically and physically so much over the years, but the aim and goals are still the same for us all. If you are dedicated and work on your skills and have enough self-belief, with a bit of luck you too can have a chance to lift the Sam Maguire or Brendan Martin Cup in the Hogan Stand in Croke Park.

Greatest influence/role model? My parents were, and still are today. They never forced or pushed me to play Gaelic football or any other sport, but always supported me from the start through the good times and more importantly the bad times, Since, getting married, I have to say my wife Monique as well, for just putting up with me.

What was biggest challenge? Probably not being able to dedicate myself more to Gaelic football at the time when playing for Galway. I found it hard to balance work and sport, and found myself at times not being able to be 100 per cent focused when I needed to be.

Greatest success/achievement? I am lucky enough to have a few, from winning two All Irelands with Galway in 1998 and 2001, playing for my province and representing my country in the International Rules series in 1998, and winning a county championship in 1996 with my club was very special.

Favourite memory? Winning the 1998 All Ireland final was special, not only for us as players and management, but also for our families, friends and our great supporters. They had followed us from the start and were able to enjoy the great occasion with us on the pitch in Croke Park, and also the home coming. But also knowing it had been 32 years since Galway had won the All Ireland made it very special.

Biggest regret, if any? Losing the 2000 All Ireland final to Kerry after a replay was painful, especially knowing we had them on the ropes on the first day, the two league finals in 2000 and 2004. Also losing two county finals in 1998 and 1999 with my club, losing two Railway Cup finals in 1998 and 1999. It’s true what they say, “You cannot win them all”.

Fiercest opponent/s? I had many a great battle over the years with players such as Antony Tohill from Derry, Dara O Sé from Kerry, Ciarán Whelan from Dublin, and my old county partner Kevin Walsh from Killannin.

Strengths/weaknesses? Strengths would be my high fielding and long-distance kicking which was helped by my height and physicality, also the reading of the game. My weaknesses would be I tended to be a bit over aggressive at times (luckily there was no black card when I was playing ).

If not your sport, what sport would you want to play? I would have loved to have played rugby, or basketball, my shape and size was ideal for both these sports.

Are you still involved in the sport? At present I train the local U16 An Cheathrú Rua lads’ team. I have been training different under age teams here at my club for the last six years, so it is very nice to give something back to the club that supported me from the start of my career.

What do you do to relax? I like going for walks to the local beach or watching history documentaries. I have two sons playing underage for the club at present, so I enjoy watching their teams play.

Favourite sports person? Roy Keane, soccer; Kieran Read, rugby; Michael Jordan, basketball.

Best/worst aspect of lockdown. Best is being able to spend more time with my family and the slower pace of the place. Worst is not been able to meet up with friends and family not living locally, and not been able to properly console or visit friends who have lost loved ones during this pandemic lockdown.

 

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