The provincial club football championship took centre stage last Sunday when three finals and a semi-final took place. The three finals were shown on TG4, the television station that keeps Gaels such as me sane in the winter months when the Gaelic season has all but closed down for the majority.
Corofin and Dr. Crokes were easy winners in the Connaught and Munster finals respectively while Derry champions Slaughtneil were made to work hard to overcome Glenswilly’s conquerors Kilcoo to win their third successive Ulster title. The Robert Emmet’s club now boast an historic treble of the football, hurling and camogie provincial titles – all in 2016.
All-Ireland favourites St. Vincent’s from Dublin beat Longford champions Mullinalaghta by seven points to reach yet another Leinster final.
All this was happening as Jose Mourinho was being sent to the stand at Old Trafford for kicking a water bottle. Mourinho earns €16m a year. He is a testament to everything that a sportsperson should not be – egotistical, proud, self-important and self-seeking. I wonder what his legacy to his employers Manchester United will be? I don’t know nor do I care.
I know what Slaughtneil’s Chrissy McKaigue’s will be: “To inspire the next generation”. McKaigue believes the pride and passion in representing the club is key to their success. Speaking to RTE afterwards he said “Your true test is always through adversity and challenge. We faced adversity in the second half again, but in typical Slaughtneil fashion we pulled through.”
The inter-county player captained the club’s hurlers to Ulster success and believes that it is possible to continue as a dual player with communication and cooperation. Now there’s a message for players and clubs who aspire to play both football and hurling just as I did back in the day. I am intrigued by Slaughtneil because they have only about 300 families in their rural community. A long time ago, we in the Killygordon area lamented that we had only 400 hundred families in our community. The secret lies in ‘community’ because club and community are inextricably linked.
Benny Tierney, the former Armagh goalkeeper put this point across succinctly in ‘The Irish News’ recently. “When I asked the question, I have been asked a thousand times about my neighbours from Cross (Crossmaglen) - ‘What is the secret to their success?’ - one answer resonates with me.
From the very earliest age, the pitch and clubhouse has become the fulcrum of the community. And when a child comes home from school and the homework has been attempted then he or she has only one place where they want to be and they head there in their droves.
Games consoles, televisions and tablet devices are not in the equation. And when they grow up further the pub or the nightclub will only ever come second place to the real club which is far more entertaining and rewarding”.
I admire Slaughtneil; their club and their community. We should all aspire to be like them. I beganreading the Man Utd versus West Ham match report last Sunday evening on the internet. The big news was that Jose Mourinho was sent to the stand. I didn’t bother reading anymore.
Former Donegal manager Mickey Moran manages Slaughtneil. I watched TG4’s delayed Ulster club final full coverage. I don’t think I saw Mickey Moran once. He certainly wasn’t sent to the stand for kicking a water bottle. He didn’t even give an interview to TG4. Instead, he sent his assistant to TG4. Moran wasn’t looking for plaudits. He took backstage because he knew that he had his work done. Also, we will never hear what it cost Moran to sacrifice so much to bring Slaughtneil to where they are today. Pride and passion are priceless. I want to thank Moran and Slaughtneil for contributing so much to the ethos of the GAA. Their achievements have instilled confidence into people who toil so hard for their clubs; the unseen people who do untold groundwork with underage groups, the parents, the committees, the groundsmen etc. Thank you, thank you!
Success in any walk of life is only achieved through hard work and sport in no exception. I testify to this in my autobiography ‘Confessions of a Gaelic Footballer’ which has all but sold out. The reprint will be on the shelves at the end of this week. Because so many people have been asking about book signings recently, I have compiled an itinerary for your perusal: Eason’s, Letterkenny Shopping Centre, Saturday 3rd December 12-3pm; Book launch in Cassidy’s, Dublin at 6.30pm on December 8th; Macs Bookshop, Buncrana, Friday 16th December 11am-1pm; Supervalu, Ballybofey, Thursday 22nd December, 10am-2pm and Bradley’s Shop, The Cross, Friday 23rd December 10am-1pm.
See you soon and keep the faith!