I have so little energy this evening. I am wrecked after a tough session in the gym. The penny hasn’t dropped with me yet that the body isn’t able for the kind of punishment I once subjected it to. Earlier this evening, I was happily plodding along in the gym doing my thing, when I was invited to join in with the spinning class taking place in an adjoining room. The instructor pushed us hard for almost an hour. It was an eye opener and I can now admit to myself that the old body is not what it once was. However I comforted myself when I realised that there is no point in peaking this time of year! That is not the situation however for any new potential inter-county footballer wanting to impress new managers around the country. The reality is many of those players wil not have kicked a ball in months, yet they are expected to make an impression at these trial games. That’s the way it is, and until there is a better solution it will continue that way. I had a text from Ian Rowland from Crossmolina earlier this week announcing that he was invited on to the Mayo football panel for the FBD league. Ian had a wonderful year with Crossmolina, impressing in lots of games in both the league and championship. He is a player who has improved enormously this year and I expect there is more to come from this young student. Ian was one of the players invited to participate in a trial match last Saturday morning in McHale Park. I heard he played well in the trial, kicking a number of monster points that clearly caught the eye. Incidentally, I have rarely witnessed a player anywhere in the country who can kick the ball as far as this man can. Understandably, he is thrilled to be presented with this opportunity and I am quite confident he will do well.
Going back to college
I have taken over the management of the NUIG footballers this year. When asked to take on the job, I did not deliberate too long as I am a great fan of the Sigerson competition. I am a former student of the college and played football there in the early/mid eighties. Tony ‘Horse’ Regan was the manager of the team back then. Horse had the knack of getting the best out of his charges and I improved enormously as a player during my three years of playing under his guidance. The standard of football is normally high, with the majority of players from the various colleges having experience of playing at inter-county level at some time. The Sigerson is being hosted by UCD in early March so there is not a huge amount of time to get to know everyone, and to gel the group into a team. However I am looking forward to the challenge enormously and I am really excited about our prospects. I think we have the makings of a good side from what I have seen so far. We played a few matches over the last couple of weeks, progressing to the quarter finals. Unfortunately, we were beaten by a point by Queens in a match that we could have won (most games that are lost by a single point could have been won! ). We were without five or six potential starters on that occasion, so it was not such a disaster to lose narrowly. The biggest challenge for me at the moment is to select a panel of players. I have a list of 70 names and every one of them is convinced that he is good enough to play at this level. There will be disappointments! It is exciting for me personally meeting players from all around the country during this bonding phase, and I am convinced I will not regret a minute of my time with them. A player who has caught my eye, not alone with his ability as a footballer, but with his overall attitude is Kieran McDonald from Aherlow, Co Tipperary. This young full back was a member of the Tipp under 21 team last year and is also a well established senior footballer. He has it! We have quite a few Mayo lads up there which is good news. Alan Dillon and Peadar Gardiner have both returned to College to do the H-Dip. They will add a bit of maturity to the group. Jason Doherty, Ronan Rochford, Ciaran Conroy, Ger McDonagh, David Gavin, Keith Rodgers, Donal Newcome, and Niall Douglas are all champing at the bit to make the squad and be involved. Getting to know these players and assessing their quality is the most pressing requirement for me right now. Cathal Freeman, a mighty impressive young man, is giving me a dig out up there. Cathal was manager of the first years in college last year and is highly respected by all. I realise he is still a young fella, but if I ever saw a future manager in the making, this is one.
Next year is the centenary year of the Sigerson cup and as part of the planned celebrations, a team will be chosen by a committee headed by Dr Mickey Loftus. Martin Carney is also on the committee, which should increase the chances of Anthony ‘Fat Larry’ Finnerty making the team. Anthony won four Sigerson medals, three with UCG and one with UCD. That is an achievement that will be hard to surpass.