Eoin Joyce has been steeped in Gaelic football all his life. There was no avoiding it, it is in his DNA.
His dad Stephen and mother Suzanne are life-long supporters of both their club An Fháirche and the maroon and white. And this Sunday will be a special one for the entire family when, as captain, Eoin leads the Clonbur club onto Croke Park in an All-Ireland final with his dad on the side line as manager.
The entire community of Clonbur will be in Dublin this weekend to see their players contest the All-Ireland junior final against Derrytresk (Tyrone ) at 2pm.
Eoin, a national school teacher in Trim in Meat, he cannot wait for the action to commence.
“We are going up to Dublin on Saturday and we are really looking forward to getting started out. There has been a lot of talk about the other All-Ireland semi-final and what went on at it, but that is just a distraction from our perspective. It had nothing to do with us and we couldn’t do anything about it. We are playing in an All-Ireland club final and that’s all we are worrying about. We are going up to Dublin to give it a right rattle and we believe that if we perform as we can, we will win.
“They play to a particular system and, regardless of who they have on the field, they will be difficult to beat. It is every club player’s dream to play and win in Croke Park and we are no different. We are enjoying the build-up, but our key objective is to collect the cup on Sunday and win All-Ireland medals with Naomh Padraig.”
Clonbur are on the Galway-Mayo border and Eoin’s house is only six or seven miles from Cong. Like many rural clubs, they have been ravaged by emigration and youngsters leaving home for work, and as a result the club has struggled to field teams in all grades.
“We haven’t fielded at minor or u-21 for the last three or four years so it’s fantastic to be in an All-Ireland final. When I first started playing I was 16 and played with my father on the team. We were relegated the following year and then contested four intermediate county finals and lost them all. After that things fell away for us, and we lost lads through emigration, retirement, and so on. But we got our ship in order this year and everyone has given a massive commitment. It is great to be back in intermediate football for 2012, but our only focus now is on Sunday.”
Joyce who won an All-Ireland u-21 medal with Galway in 2005 is proud of the efforts the players have made over the past year.
“We have a very small panel and we have a lot of players based in Dublin, Sligo, Limerick and Cork, so you might have only nine or 10 lads training at home during the week which is tough going. However, everything has been done professionally and that is why we have been successful. We have some fantastic players in the squad and the commitment has been huge from everyone at all levels in the club. Hopefully all the effort will pay off and there will be an All-Ireland Cup in Burke’s on Sunday night."