I cannot recall being as happy for a young bunch of players as I was last Saturday afternoon in Breaffy. Castlebar Mitchels u15s beat their local football rivals, Breaffy, in a pulsating encounter and in dreadful weather conditions. Most of the lads from both teams are great friends as many of them attend either St Gerald’s or Davitt College and play school football together. Winning this particular title was huge as the bragging rights would be of enormous importance when they returned to school after their mid-term break. Breaffy have several classy players at this level, testament to their solid work over the last number of years developing their underage structure, and they gave their all over the 60 minutes. But it was the Mitchels who deservedly prevailed on this occasion. They led from gun to tape and doggedly held on to the end for a magnificent victory. While reluctant to highlight individual performances at this level, Mitchels’ team captain, Rhyne Collins, was a tower of strength at no 6 and his 80 metre run from deep in his own back line in the closing minutes to lay on a match winning goal was truly inspiring. It reminded me of a young James Nallen in his heyday. I am absolutely convinced that many on view last Saturday will don the Green and Red in the very near future.
We very often hear about the commitment of senior inter-county stars and the lengths they go to play the game they love. But Evan Heneghan, who lined out in the u15 Mitchels defence and who also had the unenviable task of marking the extraordinarily talented Sam Hastings, which he did brilliantly, pulled out all the stops to be in Breaffy on the day. You see his sister, Lycia, was donning the Irish jersey at a European boxing tournament in Gdansk, Poland. Understandably he wanted to be there to see her box for Ireland, but this fella wasn’t going to miss the final in Breaffy. It meant he, his mum and his dad had to change their travel plans and take a much later flight from Dublin on Saturday night, incur a stopover in Stansted, and finally take a 6am flight from there to Gdansk. Now that’s commitment for you. I would like, at this juncture, to compliment Breaffy on the wonderful hospitality they extended to us after the game. The steaming ‘cuppa’ and copious refreshments were more than welcome, particularly given the day that was in it. It was testament to the strong community spirit which they obviously have in the Breaffy club.
Micko’s back, but is everyone happy in Clare?
I was chatting to some Clare friends over the phone last week as a reunion of the 1992 Munster title- winning team has been arranged for next weekend. I am looking forward to it as it will be a chance to meet the bunch of players I worked with for four years from 1990 to1994. Beating Kerry in the ’92 final really was a great occasion for all Clare football people and in fairness they haven’t forgotten it. I think this is the fourth or fifth time the players have organised a similar get-together. It seems like any excuse will do, but with this year commemorating the 20th anniversary, I suppose you could say the event has a certain legitimacy. The one thing that group of players had was wonderful spirit and it is something that most Clare people seem to have. That spirit was again in evidence last Sunday as Kilmurry-Ibrickane pushed Dr Crokes all the way in a pulsating Munster club championship encounter. They came up short at the end but, according to reports, were dreadfully unlucky to lose as they had enough possession and chances to seal victory. The crowd of almost 2,000 gives a fair indication of how seriously they take their football down in west Clare. On this occasion there may have been a few extra coming through the stiles to welcome the new Clare manager, Mick O Dwyer, who had travelled from his Waterville home in order to assess the quality of the Clare champions.
I was quite surprised to see the Clare County Board appoint the 76-year-old, and it appears that opinion is divided in the Banner County as to whether they should have appointed the hugely decorated Kerryman. I sought the opinion of Mr Football in Clare earlier this week and he genuinely appeared thrilled at Micko’s arrival to manage them. He appeared wildly enthusiastic about the new challenge and despite the story doing the rounds that he is on a contract worth €80,000 per year, there is no such truth in that rumour. Instead, Micko has agreed to travel at the normal expense rate of 50 cent per mile for the coming year. If the Clare boys turn out in force, something they have not done in recent years, then I genuinely do believe Clare will get great value for their buck.
Rossies’ still on the lookout
I mentioned here two weeks ago that I had heard from a very reliable source that Niall Moyna was taking over Roscommon. Well, he hasn’t but, instead, has jumped aboard with James McCartan and the Down set up for the coming year. I don’t think Dr Moyna will ever take on an inter-county side as he would have too much to lose. If Roscommon had a poor season in the league and championship, his reputation might be tarnished. By remaining as part of the backroom team, he can stay once removed from the spotlight and can then hop from one team to another if things go pear shaped. Wise man!
My source is frantically covering his tracks this week and suggesting now that there are three possibles in the running. Banty Mc Enaney, John Evans, the former Tipperary manager and, the very latest to get a favourable mention, our own Tommy Lyons. If my foreign correspondent has got these wrong too, he will be most definitely be repatriated from his current posting.