NUI Galway will host the Sigerson football competition in February 2012. I, along with Tomas Tierney, have agreed to look after the team again this year and we intend to have a little more success than last year – a year in which we became frustrated at times for a combination of reasons. We made it to the quarter finals in UCD but came up well short against the hosts.
When Tomas and I reflected on our couple of months involved with the NUIG squad last year, we were both surprised at how little actual contact time we had with the footballers. In fact I think we managed to have the entire pool of players together on just one or two occasions. Another big issue we had was the excessive demands placed by inter-county managers on these young footballers, be they members of u21 or senior county squads. However one such manager stood out head and shoulders above the rest with regards to his overall co-operation and support of our efforts with the student squad. The man in question went on to achieve All-Ireland glory with his own squad at u21 level. That man was Alan Mulholland. We both believe that if young college footballers were left alone to focus on only their college football until the end of February, they would be fresher and better for other competitions later in the year. This is our second year involved and from a personal point of view I find it a fascinating challenge.
Last year was a huge learning curve for me. Coaching, managing, and co-coordinating third level students is unique, and to be perfectly honest quite a challenging assignment. We arranged a meeting two weeks ago to meet with any or all players interested in playing Gaelic football this year for the college. More than 60 players turned up and registered to play. This is brilliant in many ways, but it has also presented us as managers with the task of evaluating what the quality of those players really is. To be fair everyone deserves a few trial matches and having given an undertaking to give everyone a fair chance, it will be a couple of weeks before we arrive at a final panel of 30 players. We have decided to introduce a few 7am training sessions which will no doubt assist us greatly in identifying who possesses the necessary commitment and drive to be part of the squad. Fun times ahead!
I see where Conor Mortimer has let it be known that he is moving from home club Shrule/Glencorrib to Parnells in Dublin. I think this is a good move for Mortimer. Apparently he will be well looked after by his new club which has become quite good at attracting county stars to the capital. It seems he has been offered work by the club and, at 29 years of age, he has still plenty to offer at both club and county level. Mortimer as we know was out injured for over six months this year as a result of a cruciate injury, but did return some weeks ago to the playing fields. I met him recently and also saw him play for his club, and could not but notice how strong he had become over the last year. He has been training quite extensively in the gym as part of his recuperation process. I think he could be a very interesting assignment for the new coach/trainer of the Mayo team. After all it is relatively easy to dispense with a player, but it is a different challenge to bring someone back into the fold and get the best out of him. It is an experiment worth conducting in my opinion.
Intermediate final should be a cracker
I will be in McHale Park on Sunday to see the intermediate final. It promises to be an intriguing contest and a difficult one to call. As I mentioned last week I was impressed with the quality of both sides in winning their respective semi-finals. I also recall the heartbreak felt in and around Burrishoole after their agonising defeat to Tourmakeady in last year’s final. They went into that game as overwhelming favourites but never really got anywhere near their early season good form to land the title. Twelve months on they look more formidable and the bad experience of losing the final last year will still rankle. I suspect there will be no complacency in the Burrishoole camp this year. It is hard to believe that Davitts are playing in their first final in 30 years.
In fact I was part of a Crossmolina team that played against them 31 years ago. We beat them on that occasion but they were a tough outfit back then and came back to win the title the following year. I just have a feeling that Davitts might need a second bite at the cherry, similar to the team from the early eighties, and will have to persevere for another year as my gut tells me Burrishoole will be that little bit hungrier.
Islandeady make the breakthrough
Islandeady have suffered some barren years but never lost the faith as they continued to keep the flame burning for the best part of three decades, to witness a day like they did last Sunday. Like most finals, it had its fair share of drama with slips, trips, and falls being the order of the day as a rain soaked pitch made it nigh on impossible at times to play good football. But it never lacked quality in work ethic or endeavour as both sides tried to ensure they brought a party atmosphere to their respective parishes. It was to be Islandeady’s day and the wonderful post match scenes showed what it means to win a county title. Days like that make all the effort worthwhile. Well done boys and I hope ye enjoyed the party.