GAA:TALKING P INT
GAA-AFL links: Gaels down under
Ciarn Kilkenny: ready to shine
Former Derry star Joe Brolly launches transplant initiative
GAA to probe alleged McBrearty bite incident
Vol. 1Issue 1
18 March - 18 April 2013
McGeeney ready to lock horns with Red Hands once againIn the
2001 Ulster quarter-final clash between Armagh and Tyrone, the ball
came to McGeeney just a few minutes into the game and as he
gathered the loose ball, the Mullabawn man was slightly
off-balance. Tyrone rookie Ste-phen ONeill saw the opportunity to
make a name for himself and clattered the Armagh veteran to the
ground with a thumping shoulder takle.
McGeeney wasnt aware that ONeill was making a charge for him and
wouldnt have had much time to rearrange his feet and balance
himself. Tyrone scored a goal immediately after McGeeney was
bundled to the ground and although the goal had a much more
significant impact on the scoreline at the end of the game, the
Armagh legend getting flattened by a Tyrone teenager sounded
through the entire ground and transmitted confidence through the
entire Tyrone team.
About 18 months later, Irelands Allstars of 2001 faced the newly
elected 2002 team and although the match was a trivial exhibition
game played in San Diego, there were two collisions worth noting in
the whole game. Both involved McGeeney and Stephen ONeill. It was
evident that McGeeney wanted revenge for the incident that burned
long in his memory
and probably caused him many sleepless nights. Armagh had just
been crowned All-Ire-land champions for the first time in their
history a seven weeks previous and Stephen ONeill was more than a
little jealous that the Orchard County had won the Sam Maguire Cup
before his native Tyrone. Captain McGeeney remained the symbol of
the stronghold that ONeills Tyrone were still frantically trying to
overcome and the battle that day was as entertaining as any
Tyrone travelled to Donegal for a fitness camp a number of weeks
before the 2003 All-Ireland final and in the team hotel, a
flipchart highlighting Armaghs danger-men was shown to the Tyrone
name was at the top of manag-er Mickey Hartes list and the
Tyrone team were encouraged to hassle the experienced defender from
start to finish to quell his influence.
Tyrone systematically broke
down the Armagh team into key areas and focused on the zones
they could exploit to overcome Joe Kernans men.
Tyrones entire game plan al-most entirely hinged on stopping
McGeeney exerting his authority
Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney will be raring to go against the
and making Armagh tick. Ulsters two best sides of the
modern era met in no less than seven championship matches
between 2001 and 2005 and Tyrones eventual ability to stop McGeeney
was a turning point in Ulster football and helped shift the balance
of power in the north. In reality, Armagh have never properly
recovered from their All-Ireland semi-final defeat at the hands of
their great rivals in 2005. Many players in the Ar-magh squad would
now acknowl-edge that they were the victims of their own
Armagh had the Red Hands on the ropes and failed to deliver the
knock-out blow. McGeeneys substitution with ten minutes left to
play was one of the defining moments. It crushed Armagh and lifted
Tyrones morale, who scored the last three points of the game to win
by a solitary point. When Kieran did leave the field, it definitely
gave us a lift, said Sean Cavanagh to reporters after the game.
Kieran McGeeney never ever forgot the moment he was substi-tuted
without injury and without displaying tiredness. It put his
relationship with the Armagh management on rocky ground and he
subsequently retired a year later and altered his career
drastically as he became Kildar manager just one month later.
McGeeney has had to learn as a manager in similar fashion to his
playing days. He has had his fair share of beatings already and
in the first couple of years, almost all the big scalpings came
at the hands of his notorious Tyrone rivals. When McGeeney made his
Armagh debut in spring 1994, it was a McGeeney error that cost
Armagh dearly in an epic clash against Ty-rone. He completely
misread an harmless bounce from an Adrian Morris free-kick, and as
the ball bounced over his head, Plunkett Donaghy was on hand to
capitalise in a one-on-one with the Armagh goalkeeper. When Tyrone
once again got the better of their fiercest rivals in 1997, it was
Armaghs fourth champion-ship loss on the bounce.
The sides became even towards the beginning of the new
millen-nium and traded wins in 2000 and 2001 before they locked
horns once again in 2002, in the biggest games Armagh had ever
competed in. On both occasions, Armaghs talismanic captain set the
Kieran McGeeney would never strike you as a man who was
mo-tivated by regret and disappoint-ment, but it was clear that he
evidently despised how Armagh loosened their dominant grip
and became a less aggressive team after winning the 2002
All-Ire-land title. That stylistic change was never more evident
than in 2003 when Tyrone won their first ever All-Ireland title,
prevent-ing Armagh from securing back-to-back champion-ships in the
When Ar-magh became a more relaxed outfit and afforded teams
on the ball, Armagh effectively announced that they were
sur-rendering their status as Irelands most feared team. Defeat in
the 2005 All-Ireland semi-final was the deepest cut of all for
Mc-Geeneys and his substitution, at a time when he was often most
re-liable, intensified that pain. Sean Cavanagh is arguably the
greatest GAA player of his generation, yet in every single
Armagh-Tyrone game between 2002 and 2005, the ten minutes when
Kieran McGeeney had to watch from the sidelines were the only
moments when Cavanagh was allowed to display his brilliance.
Armagh attacker John McEntee once said that it was a huge
psy-chological blow for us and a huge psychological boost for
Tyrone. Manager Joe Kernan, however, only publicly defended his
mana-gerial decision in 2008 in Finbarr McCarthys book Bainisteoir
which is Gaelic for Manager.
It was a huge call but thats my job, said Kernan. I dont know if
Kieran is still annoyed with being taken off. Maybe he is but he
never said it to me. But the facts are simple.
Our stats man told us Kieran had not touched the ball in 17
minutes. We made the change hoping to freshen things up and to get
on the ball. That was our call then and we stand over the decision.
But that substitution was not the losing of the game.
McGeeneys face could have said a thousand things as Peter
Canavan slotted over an inju-ry-time free-kick to give Tyrone
That was the last time Mc-
Geeney lined out against Tyrone and as a manager, he faced them
for the first time in 2009, in the All-Ireland quarter-final, which
Tyrone won. The Tyrone omen never really went away while Mc-Geeney
was in charge of the Lily Whites as Tyrone gained victory in all
four of their league clashes during McGeeneys reign. for the first
time in the 2009 All-Ireland quarter-final, which Tyrone narrowly
Kildare havent beaten Tyrone in their last 12 outings and
Mc-Geeneys character wouldnt allow him to pay attention to bogey
status. McGeeney has always viewed Tyrone as the ultimate
challenge, both as a player and as a manager, and this weekend,
well expect nothing less from McGeeney than to have his side raring
to go in the National League clash in Croke Park.
Going up against Tyrone was pitting yourself against the best
and thats the one thing McGeen-ey loved because he always want-ed
to prove that he was better than them, Armagh legend Oisin
McConville once said.
Anytime we played Tyrone we were always hyped up and anytime we
were that driven, it was McGeeney who was really driving us.
Sunday is the best way for McGeeney to announce his Kildare side
as genuine All-Ire-land contenders after a few years without
silverware, and although a formidable Tyrone side stand in his way,
there is no one more equipped to for a clash with the old enemy
Tyrone than the master himself.
Commanding: Kieran McGeeney in action for Armagh against Tyrone
Kieran McGeeney has to watch from the sidelines after being
substituted by manager Joe Kernan
3Scullion vows never to play for Saffrons
under Dawson againGaelic football is renowned for be-ing a hard
sport, physically challenging and played by real men in an era when
athletes are diving and feigning injury. Here at GAA World, we
reckon that Kildares young footballer Padraig Fogarty took hardness
to a unique new level last week, thanks to the enlighten-ing diary
he kept for the Nationalist newspaper in the build up to the recent
Leinster U-21 football final.
Fogarty, a private in the Irish army, was on a ground training
block, a duty that includes long distance trekking through the
Wicklow mountains laden down with full weighted backpacks. The day
before Kildare beat Longford in the U-21 Leinster Final, Fogarty
was required to trek 12km in full gear.
The next day, Fogarty got off training at 1.0, met up with his
county team-mates, won a Leinster fi-nal and was straight back up
to the Glen of Imaal while his team-mates cel-ebrated and had a
heavy night on the booze.
Its a great feeling to win an All-Ireland medal. We all dream of
this moment as kids but its just a shame I have to go straight back
to work. I would have enjoyed a beer. he said.
There are quite a number of GAA stars currently training in
Fog-artys class in the Curragh barracks. Kilkennys Col-in Fennelly
and Wicklows Rory Finn to name a few.
Antrim defender Tony Scul-lion has declared that he will not
play under current county manager Frank Dawson again after the two
were involved in a heated argument following Scul-lion attending a
Scullion and his brother-in-law Tomas McCann both failed to
attend last weekends clash against Monaghan after the heated
The Monaghan game clashed with an anniversary mass for Scullions
deceased relative and both players wanted to attend the mass and
travel independently to the game. Dawson, however, wanted the
play-ers to travel on the team bus.
When they went ahead with their plan, Antrim manager Dawson
reportedly informed the players that they shouldnt bother traveling
to the Antrim game, and veteran de-fender Scullion has since
informed GAA World that he has provided the Antrim County Board
with an ultimatum.
I havent walked out on my county at all. I have left the
decision up to the Antrim officials. Ive told them I would happily
return, providing Dawson wasnt managing the team. But
reaslistically, that will never happen so regrettably, I feel my
county career is over.
What happened is a total disgrace. It is a family matter and
sometimes you need to be there at those kinds of ceremonies. Its a
matter of princi-ple and in a Catholic-dominated sport, which
thrives on the parish and community spirit, how can someone be told
not to go to a family service at the chapel?
Dawson has re-fused to discuss the issue publicly, stating:
Those boys failing to get on our team bus does our team no fa-vours
at all. And at the end of the day, thats all that matters when we
get together and train for a game.
He added: The two lads attended the mass and our management team
are well aware of exactly what went on from late Saturday night
until the early hours of Sunday morning.
However, thats in the past already and as a team we must all
move forward and ensure that Antrim football does not suffer.
Dawson will be selcting his Ulster
and All-Ireland championship panel in the next three weeks and
the Loughiel man has stressed that every man is still eligible to
play for Antrim, the door isnt closed to anyone.
If the Scullion-Dawson standoff continues, Antrim are likely to
be without their experienced leader, not to mention their most
talented player, Toms McCann.
Antrim star Tony Scullion may never line out for The Saffrons
Murray backs Dawson in Scullion-McCann disputeAntrim chairman
Jim Murray has backed manager Frank Dawson to continue as
Dawsons position was alleged-ly under threat after star players
Toms McCann and Tony Scullion were controversially dropped from the
squad after attending a relatives anniversary Mass on the
of Antrims defeat to Monaghan - a game where Antrim were
relegated to Division 4 of the Allianz Football League.
Antrim chiefs held a meeting on Tuesday 9th April, but the
meeting wasnt about the duos axings.
As far as Im aware, the players are still in the Antrim frame.
They are definitely part of the Antrim
frame. Frank indicated its still being resolved and the
management team just have to move on.
Frank is there for the long haul. Everything is fine here and
cant be blown out of proportion. There was a review planned before
the championship and it just happened to fall after the two players
have left. Unfortunate timing, thats all.
Private Fogarty treks to Leinster success
Former Antrim sensation Kevin McGourty has rubbished reports
that he is scheduled to return to his countys senior football
Rumours began to circulate this week, suggesting the St Galls
marksman has been selected by Frank Dawson, but the Sigerson Cup
winner has poured cold water on the news, labeling it as
I do wonder where these stories come from. Theres no truth in
these rumours at all. The Antrim panel started back last night and
a number of boys have returned to the county setup but I can
confirm that I am not one of them. Its all nonsense.
I have had no contact from Frank (Dawson) about playing football
this year and you can speak to my club-mates and they will confirm
that I was training with them last night.
However, McGourty admitted that if Frank Dawson was to give him
a call, he is in no doubt about what his answer would be.
Of course Id go back.
Definitely. he said.I am 30 now and Im in the
same boat as Sean Kelly (who has returned). Im not happy about
how I ended my Antrim career. A series of injuries and arguments
really overshadowed the excellent time I had representing my
county. But if I was to be realistic, this would be my last chance.
If you look at the way football is going, it is a
young mans game and Id need to be in better shape if I was to go
If I was honest, Id have to say that in my heart of hearts, I do
want to give it one last hooray. It is sad to watch Antrim drop
down to Division Four and theres little you can do from the
supporters end or when you are watching it in your living room. I
would have to look at
my own form and conditioning and make a decision. If I can help
the Antrim cause in any way whatsoever then I would definitely be
up for a return.
Antrim are training hard for the Ulster Championship at the
minute. That game is only about 7 or 8 weeks away so if I was to
receive a call in the next fortnight that would give me enough time
to get up to speed and bed in with the team again.
But the ball is in Franks court. Hes the man who has to make the
decision. Id be happy to be involved. Well just wait and see what
happens in the next few weeks and take it from there.
McGourty dismisses rumours of return to
Antrim senior football
Kevin Dyas finally looks at homeOn a day of positives for Armagh
yester-day, one of the posi-tives for the Orchard County was that
Kevin Dyas looked like he owned a position.
It is fair to say that the Dro-mintee man failed to scale the
heights that were expected of him since his return from the AFL,
performing well without being dominating games. It is also fair to
say that circum-stances have played a big part in this.
A string of injuries played their part in this. The other
was his versatility. Since return-ing to these shores, for club
and county, Kevin Dyas has appeared on all five lines of the pitch
and the 26-year-old hasnt been able to call a position his own.
Paul Grimley, however, has kept him at half-forward for the
entire National Leage and the Armagh boss has been rewarded with
Grimley and Dyas seem tailor made for each other as Grimley
de-mands accurate kicking and Dyas is one of the best in Ulster at
Dyas isnt the finished article yet, though. He managed five
from five shots against Galway yes-terday, but prior to that he
has been reluctant to shoot. He will now be a marked man when
Armagh face Ca-van in the Ulster Championship and will have less
space against Cavan after the Galway display.
But the outlook is good, and he should be chomping at the bit
ahead of the May 19 meeting with the Breffnimen.
Armagh manager Paul Grimley is likely to be without midfielder
Charlie Vernon, defensive duo Aaron Kernan and Tony Duffy, as well
as fellow clubman Ronan Clarke for the tie against Cavan.
Left: Kevin McGourty in action for St Galls, Belfast
McGourtys career highlight:
Although McGourty has rarely shown his brilliance in an Antrim
jersey, his role in St Galls All-Ireland club victory highlights
his quality and undoubted pedigree.
5GAA senior officials to probe McBrearty bite incidentDubs
chairman Kettle lashes lack of contact over allegation
The GAAs Central Competition Controls Committee have opened an
investigation into allegations made by Donegals All-star
corner-forward Patrick McBrearty that he was bitten in last Sundays
National Foot-ball League Division 1 clash with Dublin in
The CCCC have already contacted the Donegal county board and
have requested for any evidence or notable information to be passed
on to the GAA authorities in order to resolve the issue, that was
raised at half-time, as soon as possible. The original complaint
was made by a member of the Donegal medical team when Dr Mark Woods
made the referee aware that Patrick McBreaty has a bite mark and
laceration on his right shoulder. McBrearty was later taken to
hospital for routine examination and tests that are a legal
requirement by the GAA when a player has sustained an injury of
It is believed that members of the Donegal medical team and
management took photos of the incident at half time and full-time
in the presence of the referee to ensure no argument could be made
about when the photos were taken yet the most reliable documents
that will be issued to the GAA CCCC will come from medical
professionals who examined McBrearty at the ground in Ballobofey
and also in the hospital after the game.
McBrearty had a number of precautionary injections on Sunday
Donegal officials had to report the incident to two different
referees. Michael Duffy was informed at the interval, but a calf
strain meant that the Fermanagh man was replaced by Padraig Hughes,
so Jim McGuinness deemed it neceassary to inform all the
of the incident.That detail subsequently made
its way into the official compulsary post-match report and from
there, GAA officials felt obliged to undertake a formal
Patrick McBrearty, however, has admitted that he doesnt want the
investigation to cause disruption to Donegals Ulster and
All-Ireland preparation. The Buncrana native also captains Donegals
U-21 side and faces Cavan in the Ulster U-21 final in Enniskillen
on Saturday night..
I havent really got an idea who it was, because it took place
just after a takle and a few of us got tangled up and ended up on
the ground. Its not really something that happens in GAA, in fact,
its the first instance I have ever heard of this kind.
But I dont really want it to be blown up into something its not.
It was a dirty act, thats for sure, but there are more important
things to worry aboiut and at the minute the only thing I am
focusing on is the year ahead with Donegal.
I wouldnt even like to hazard a guess and say who I think it was
because I think that would be disrespectful, particularly if I was
wrong. Ill let the GAA sort it out and they can throw the book at
the culprit if needs be. Its in their hands now.
Dublin chairman Andy Kettle confirmed yesterday that a member of
their medical staff was invited into the Donegal dressing-room to
examine McBrearty. Kettle said the medic had suggested that, in his
estimation, it was a
bruise, not a laceration.Kettle also admitted that he was very
that Donegal officials did not contact the Dublin County Board
in relation to the inci-dent and Dublin manager Jim Gavin wasnt
even approached and informed at the game.
I have spoken to Jim Gavin and he was not made aware of it by
his counterpart or any of the Donegal management team, said
That is the point I would take issue with in radio reports at
the moment that the Dublin management team were informed.
The Dublin management team, to my knowledge, were not informed.,
which isnt right because we could have helped with this.
Donegals Patrick McBrearty (right)
6A leading sports psychologist has warned GAA officials that
unless fur-ther action is taken to erradicate bad and cynical
behaviour in the GAA, theres a risk that such actions will
degenerate further, and affect young players up and down the
Tadhg MacIntyre, a lecturer at the Universi-ty of Limerick, said
that the more frequently bad behaviour appears in the press and on
television, the more likely it would be that such actions would
become contagious. He is adamant that an increase in sledging is
paramount to the GAAs growing problem, having interfered with the
moral compass by which players operate.
If sledging is accepted as part of the game and it appears to be
then we will edge closer to a scenario whereby there is a greater
acceptance and tolerance of negative behav-iour, including
violence. The danger then is that it will just be a matter of time
before we have our first major incident of violence or injury or
things like kicking an opponent when he goes to ground, becomes
common, he said.
His remarks come in a week when the GAA has made national
headlines after Donegals All-star forward Patrick McBrearty showed
injuries to his shoulder, where he had alleg-edly been bitten by a
Dublin player in last Sundays league game in Ballybofey.
Its just the latest controversy to rock the GAA in recent months
after Crossmaglens Aaron Cunningham was subjected to racial abuse
in an Ulster semi-final clash against Down outfit An Rocht. Armaghs
Ciaran McKeever was also subjected to sectarian abuse in a
cross-border game against Louth where the Orchard County captain
was called a British ba****d by sections of the crowd.Kildar native
MacIntyre, a vastly experi-enced psychologist across several
sporting codes, including Gaelic games, blames the win-at-all costs
attitude that has developed up and down the country and a culture
ceptance to such incidents that bring huge embarrassment to the
He believes that the axe must fall on man-agers as much as
players as they are often the catalysts in shaping the aggressive
styles and temperaments of their team.
In many ways, you could say that managers are in possession to
the key that will solve this problem and stomp it out immediately.
They are aware of what is going on and could even be the ones
putting pressure on players to become more aggressive in order to
stop a talented opponent.
The GAAs leaders have to take a pro-active stand on issues of
this kind (McBrearty bite) because if they dont, they are sending
out a message to young boys and girls that this sort of thing is
acceptable and you wont be punished for it.
There are sins of commission as well as omission and its
definitely a sin of omission for a manager not to deal with a
player who has blatantly applied his own ethical code. Nobody
should be rewarded or congratulated for this sort of behaviour if
they have cheated or attempted to injure a player on route to
victory. Nip it in the bud early, send out a message to players of
all ages and all levels, and our game will definitely go from
strength to strength.
must take stand on bite issue
Donegals Patrick McBrearty (right) moments before the incident
7Derry legend launches transplant initiativeFormer Derry
All-star and fans favourite Joe Brolly won the admiration of the
entire nation after his act of exceptional kindness in donat-ing
his kidney to friend Shane Finnegan.
The Dungiven native, who is a barrister in Belfast, was hailed
as an inspiration last year, and rightly so.
It was devastating for everyone involved when the liver
trans-plant failed but Joe has not let such heart-breaking news get
better of him. The unsuccessful operation has been the catalyst
for motivating Joe, who is in charge of a nationwide campaign aimed
at shaking up the law and organ transplant system in gener-al in
At the minute, by law, anyone who wishes to donate an organ when
they die must have signed up in advance.
Joe however, has told GAA World that the new proposals will
change the current law signif-icantly and people would have
been presumed to have given consent for organ donation unless
they actively opt out and indicate such wishes before their
The soft opt out initia-tive will hopefully change everything
that currently ex-ists in the north. Put simply, it means that even
if you dont opt out during your lifetime, then your next of kin
will still have the final say on whether to permit your organs to
be used, and that way, no one is taking liberties, it just means
that the appropriate people will be consulted and theres a
chance that we could make a real difference to the system says
Joe, who is also a columnist with the Derry Journal, has won
support on both sides of the bor-der, and the former GAA All-star
is confident the initiative will be a success.
Its a strange situation at the minute, because its not that
people dont want to donate and help with the transplant list. Its
just that they dont have the right information made available to
them and the current system doesnt properly reflect peoples views
People are clear in their opinions about organ donation.
Everyone thinks it is a good thing so it is our responsibility to
give them a system that makes the most of that.
On Friday night, Joe visited his hometown of Dungiven, but on
this occasion, it was his turn to be inspired.
The dad-of-five rushed down he M1 from Belfast with two of his
children in order to be guest of honour at the St Canices GAC
annual awards, and he met up with 18-year-old Ryan OConnor
from the town.Ryan had a heart transplant in
October last year, but following complications, the teenage had
to have his two legs amputated in order to save his life.
Ryan has proven to be a resilient and humble young man and
admits that having no legs is not the end of the world.
For him it is simply the begin-ning of an exciting new chapter
in his life and one that will undoubt-edly teach him new things
that he never imagined hed need.
Friday was the first time the pair met despite being from the
same town, and when Joe ad-dressed the St Canices crowd, he gave an
emotional speech about the inspirational Ryan.
After the awards, the pair deemed local heroes on the night
chatted for an hour at their dinner table. Relaxed and in good
form, the pair sat down with their lemonades and Joe explained
exactly why he holds Ryan in such high regard.
He is a very level-headed young man and he has a good head on
his shoulders so he is well aware of the challenges he
Joe Brolly with friend Shane Finnegan before
Joe and Shane four days after their October operation
8will face and he is under no illu-sions that this will be easy
at any stage. He comes from a seriously good stock of peple and he
has a loving community around him. That will only take the young
man so far, hell have to do a lot of this on his own but it will
make him a fighter. said the RT GAA pundit.
Ryan still has a lot of inde-pendence because he still has his
arms. You have to look at the standard of prostethic limbs that are
available and it really is superb. We all know top class athletes
with prosthetic legs more than any other amputees so we can take
solace from that point.
I mean when we watched The Bionic Man, that was beyond our
imaginations, and now we have these blade-runners who are competing
in able-bodied cham-pionships and they are competing for world
Joe comments that young peo-ple in general are more equipped at
coping with diversity.
I know this first hand because my niece came to live with us
after her mum died, and not long after that the young girls was
diagnosed with leukaemia, but
she is the toughest person I know now. Calling her mentally
tough doesnt even do her justice.
Life is no bother to her, no matter what it throws in her
direction and there is defi-nitely an element of that with Ryan. I
can see real compari-sons with their attitudes and outlooks on
life, said Joe.
Hes very philosophical, and for a brief period, I got a glimpse
of that sort of mentality - of people who are very ill and are
Once Ryan gets the rehab under his belt, hell be fine. I just
know he will. Hell get a brilliant set of legs and it will be an
adventure, thats for sure.
At the end of the day, my transplant has told me that life is
just an adventure. Thats all it is. And later on down the line,
Ryan will look back on his life and he will have a better and more
interesting story to tell than you and me. He will be a real
character and his story will inspire others.
Joe says that it took his own transplant to really send home the
message about the importance of an effective donor system in
Northern Ireland and it was the start-
ing gun for something that was really obvious for years.
Its very difficult when you give up a kidney for a friend and
you have to watch as both worlds come crashing down when the body
rejects the organ.
And of course, I still feel heart-broken every day because Shane
isnt transplantable now unless he can get a living donor. Having
Shane on board is magical. Every day he is in pain and he is
work-ing so hard to transform a system thats not even going to help
The fact that we will be fight-ing to change the legislation
sur-rounding deceased people really gives you an idea of the
measure of the man, said Joe.
Mines is a very small story compared to stories like Shane and
Ryan and whenever people in their position are saying this is a
great thing cause- keep going then you cant help but feel motivated
and driven by their enthusiasm and fighting spirit.
Joe stresses that the change in the law is straightforward, and
that the families would continue to have the final say.
Its just dead sensible and it makes organ donation the norm,
rather than the uncommon thing it is probably seen as today.
One body can save up to seven lives, and that sentence alone
really shows people just how important it is and donating an organ
can be such an incredible gift.
Think of that: the joy, the effect it will have on the families
and the individual, and the local community as well. It cant be put
There is a massive feel-good factor with donating an organ.
Everyone is on the same team, rallying together to make a life
better and you can see that in Ryans family.
RT is making a documen-tary about organ donation in light of Joe
and Shanes national campaign, and the pair also have appearances on
the countrys flag-ship television programme The Late Late Show and
the BBCs Stephen Nolan Show.
With all of this, what I needed to do was get speaking to the
right people. I needed to turn a few heads and use contacts in
order to open doors that would have otherwise remained closed. Ive
got the doors open with First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy
First Minister Martin McGuinness, as well as Edwin Poots, and it
looks like all the major Irish political players will be following
Its an initiative with no draw-backs. Anything that saves lives
and transforms one persons life can hardly be a negative thing.
No one knows the importance of organisation more than Ryan.
Ryan is back home in Dungiven after spending four months in
hospital following his transplant and subsequent operations.
Rather than complaining about his lack of limbs and the uphill
challenges he will face ciming to terms with his amputation, Ryans
only complaint is that his trademark ginger curls are gone and his
hair is now growing back straight!
Ryan also agrees that the amendment to the law is a
Waiting for a heart, its just one of those things you cant
imagine, said Ryan.
But this campaign is simple and it will only improve the
standard of living up and down the country. After seeing what I
have gone through, my friends, family have all joined the organ
donor register. People should let friends and family know how you
feel because you could potentially save a life.Its heartbreaking to
see people waiting for an organ and it doesnt come. In this era of
med-icine and science, no one should be in that situation. What Joe
is doing is makes sense and Ill be behind him every step of the
way. he said.
his kidney transplant in October
Joe Brolly with teenager Ryan OConnor at St Canices GAC Awards
in Dungiven, Derry
Joe Brolly with friend Shane Finnegan before
History at odds with Jims viewTheres a high prob-ability that
the 2013 All-Ireland football champions will come from next Sundays
Allianz National Football League semi-finalists if the form guide
since the start of the millennium holds good this season.Thats a
source of en-couragement for Dublin, Mayo, Tyrone and Kil-dare, who
already stand as first, fifth, sixth and seventh favourites
respec-tively for the All-Ireland title, with Donegal, Kerry and
Cork filling the second, third and fourth positions.Jim McGuinness
(right) has recently discarded league form as an influ-ential
factor in deter-mining the winner of the All-Ireland and, while his
Donegal squad proved that theory to be correct when they won last
years All-Ireland crown after finishing Division 1 in seventh
reveal that last years outcome was not in line with the general
trend since 2000.Nor has any county since then won the All-Ireland
title after being relegated from Division 1 earlier in the season,
a fate which was served to McGuin-ness men earlier in the
month.Tyrone won their third All-Ireland after a fifth-placed
Division 1 finish in 2008, while Armagh secured their first ever
All-Ireland tri-umph in 2002 as a promising Division 2 side.But,
Donegal apart, the title has otherwise gone to counties who did
well in the league. Kerry (2004-2006-2009), Cork (2010) and Tyrone
(2003) completed the NFL/All-Ireland double.Galway (2001) and
Dublin (2011) won the All-Ireland after being NFL runners-up,
while Kerry finished third in Division 1A in 2007 and were beaten
semi-finalists in 2000 prior to going on to take the Sam
Maguire.Tyrone reached the league semi-final in 2005 before
claiming All-Ireland success.Those results suggest that a
progressive league cam-paign is often a precursor to a good
Whereas, since the start of the millennium, dropping out of
Division 1 has yet to be followed by an All-Ireland win later in
the season.Kerry (2001) and Tyrone (2010) were the only counties to
win provincial titles after being relegat-ed and Donegal face a
good Tyrone side in the first round of the Ulster
Championship.Kerry, though, later lost the All-Ireland semi-final
to Meath by 15 points,
while Tyrone narrowly lost a quarter-final to Dublin. That adds
to the intrigue of Don-egals position heading into the championship
while a positive, consistent league campaign will raise spirits
among next Sundays four semi-finalists.
How All-Ireland winners fared in the NFL from
2000-2012:2000: Kerry (Division 1 beaten semi-finalists)2001:
Galway (Division 1 beaten finalists)2002: Armagh (Promot-ed from
Division 2)2003: Tyrone (Winners Division 1)2004: Kerry (Winners
Division 1)2005: Tyrone (Division 1 beaten semi-finalists)2006:
Kerry (Division 1 winners)2007: Kerry (3rd Divi-sion 1A)2008:
Tyrone (5th Divi-sion 1)2009: Kerry (Winners Division 1)2010: Cork
(Winners Division 1)2011: Dublin (Division 1 beaten finalists)2012:
Donegal (6th Division 1)
Food for thought, Jim!
McManaman hails Dubs license to thrillKevin McManamon believes
the injec-tion of fresh talent into the Dublin squad has made Jim
Gavins side less predictable than in previous years.
McManamon is one of the most talented forwards in Ireland
following his consist-ent displays in the last three All-Ireland
campaigns. Dublin manager Jim Gavin can also call on the star
quality of new Dubllin panelists Mick Fitzsimons, Jason Whelan and
Dean Rock who were introduced to the Dublin forward line in the
draw with Donegal last Sunday.
Gavin has already used 34 players in the league campaign and
McManamon says the team has been told to utilise their creative
The great thing about Jim from a forward perspective is that he
allows us to play our own style of attacking football and he allows
us to have a bit of freedom in the final third. McManamon said.
The young lads like Paul Mannion and Ciaran Kilkenny will
absolutely love the step up this year and everyone else, the senior
and more experienced players included, will be buzzing to be
involved with a more attacking team. Dublin have very good
footballers every year but theres just something about this
breed of attacking talent that excites me. Time will tell what
will happen in the summer as we start to get a few championship
matches under our belts, but I suppose it makes you less
predictable when you have young lads with raw talent coming in and
playing a lot of minutes.
Dublin have made light of the absence of multiple All-star
Bernard Brogan to finish top of Division 1, having scored more than
anyone else across the four divisions.
The way (former manager) Pat (Gilroy) would have done it, he
would have wanted more hard-working players, lads who can tackle
and make life hard for everyone else. But Jim prefers the football
approach and lads with more technical ability. That has reflected
in our play because we were kicking points for fun throughout the
entire league campaign. When you have six players who can all
score, you automatically become a huge threat to the opposition.
Im not sure if weve actually been scoring more than we have in
previous years because we have been in the top three in the country
for the last six years, but were getting a lot better spread of
scorers up front.
Dublins draw with current All-Ireland champions Donegal has set
up a rematch with
Mayo in the league semi-final in Croke Park on Sunday (throw-in
3.45). The Connacht champions, and last years beaten All-Ireland
finalists secured their place in the last four with a win over Cork
in Pairc Ui Chaoimh to set up another meeting with the
Liffeysiders, the fourth in just 12 months.
Mayo have won two of those clashes, with last Augusts
All-Ireland semi-final the pick of the victories.
It wont be about revenge, not at all, Mc-Manamon insisted. We
played hard against them here in the league in what was a tight
enough game. We ran away with it in the sec-ond half after the two
quick goals that we got, but it could have gone either way if they
took their chances before our cruel goals.
It was hard to erase (the semi-final defeat) that kind of loss
from the mind straight away. It wasnt nice to lose an All-Ireland
semi-final in our own back yards (Croke Park) but we have to be
professional in our approach and we have to build on last year and
the memory last year. We met up as a panel at the start of December
and we agreed that we wouldnt mention last year until we had to use
it as mo-tivation. So thats what we have done and so far everything
has been going smoothly. Well just take it one step at a time. he
Canavan enjoying role with ErnesidersFermanagh GAA boss, Tyrone
legend Peter Canavan, says hes enjoying his managerial role as his
side look forward to the championship in a positive frame of
Fermanagh may have been disappointed to fall just short of
promotion into the countrys second tier, narrowly missing out
against Meath at Pairc Tailteann, but Canavan be-lieves the future
is bright for the Ernesiders.
Preparations are well under way for their opening clash, against
either Cavan or Armagh, on 16 June, depending on how that
preliminary round fixture goes.
Im getting a good kick out of the manage-rial side of the game
now. In the beginning, it was difficult to make the transition
playing for 20 years but slowly but surely Ive found my feet.
He added: This panel have come on leaps and bounds in the last
18 months or so, and we were very unlucky not to get promoted to
Division 2 this year. It was a match that went right down to the
wire and unfortunately for us, Meath clinched it in the last couple
of minutes, so they will take the final place in that division.
We had a number of good goal opportuni-ties that we normally
would have taken and when a few decisions didnt go our way, Meath
Its really is a big transition, changing from a player to a
manager - but when you love gaelic football as much as I do, and as
our local communities do, then its hard not to get involved and
strive to be better.
The Fermanagh manager says that his sides drastic improvements
over the last number of months is down to an intense fitness regime
and an increased focus on work-rate during games.
I cant fault the effort of any man. They have been brilliant
since we got together at the start of the year and nothing is too
much for them.
All we can do is get our heads down and get ourselves into the
best possible shape because its a long season and we need every
member of the panel at the same level and injury-free.
And speaking generally about the state of the game, Canavan says
he feels that the quality of the football is getting better - but
that potential improvements should always be taken on board by the
GAAs senior representatives.
Every year, when the football stops, people take to the
newspapers and county board meetings to suggest improvements for
the game after things they had seen over the course of the previous
year. I think out of the 18 proposals that were made this year, I
agreed with the majority of them but it will never be easy to apply
them all at the one time. It will take time. But if anything helps
to improve our game, we should certainly be looking at that and
taking the ideas on board. he said.
He also stressed that it was important to make the game easier
to referee, in a bid to address inconsistency - but added:
Unfortunately, I think the one amendment that we did bring in the
black card will only serve to make the game harder to referee in
There is absolutely no guarantee that any amendment will have
the benefits that every-one intends for it to have because people
will soon start identifying loopholes and ways to get around rule
Constant changes and more strict pun-ishments for cynical play
could result in our game becoming more negative and certainly thats
not what the idea should be. We need the game to be more
free-flowing. So Im just not convinced that everything is a good
idea. We have to protect the young players.
Ex-Tyrone star Peter Canavan took over as Fermanagh boss at the
beginning of last year and is enjoying his time with The Erne
Only success will silence doubters! OConnor
Slowly but surely, Cillian OConnor says, Mayo are getting there.
There being All-Ireland cham-pions.
Since James Horan took the Mayo job, there have been evident
signs that the Connacht side are heading in the right direction.
And for the second year running, Mayo pulled off a smash and grab
to secure a place in the National League semi-fi-nals.
Twelve months ago, Mayo got the draw in Tralee (no easy feat)
that meant they progressed to the league semi-finals. Admittedly,
Horans side drew with a Kerry side who had already qualified and
were testing certain players and resting others, yet one week
earlier, they hammered reining All-Ireland champions Dublin to keep
their hopes alive.
And when they left Pairc Ui Chaoimh at the weekend, they were
still in the hunt for silver-ware after a day that might have ended
with them dropping out of the top flight.
Even in last years All-Ireland final, Mayo started disastrously
against Jim McGuinness side, yet they recovered well and pushed
Donegal right to the final whistle. In previous finals, where Mayo
have been more unlucky than any other side in Ireland in the modern
era, they punched their own ticket around the half-time mark and
waited for the bus home.
A gutsy one-point win away to
league specialists Cork under-lined their potential, but OConnor
agrees they wont silence the doubters until they win an
Its hard to change peoples views until you have success. Unless
this Mayo outfit goes and wins an All-Ireland, then we wont be
regarded as the best team in the county. Its as simple as that. We
definitely have the ability and we were unlucky not to win it last
year, but we must use that to our advantage in this years
championship. said the Ballintubber man.
Thats what some people say you have to do before you get real
recognition and its hard to argue with it. Donegal were a minnows
team for 15 years because they werent competing for honours. They
hadnt won the All-Ireland for 20 years until
they beat us in the final and all of a sudden they are being
talked about as a team with an unbeata-ble system. Until you get
over the final hurdle theres always going to be people doubting
Its something that we try not to get bogged down on because
there will be doubters no matter what. We are confident and we are
a hard-working bunch so all the right things are in place.
The accurate marksman OCon-nor, who has won back-to-back Young
Footballer of the Year awards kicked two stunning side-line balls
to secure last weekends win for Mayo that sets up an-other showdown
with this years All-Ireland favourites Dublin.
The sides have brought the best out in each other over the last
couple of seasons. Dublin looked like they would be runaway
win-ners before the fog intervened in the league last year, before
Mayo won the re-fixture with a perfor-mance John Maughan described
as being as good as Ive seen from a Mayo team.
OConnor agrees that a game against Dublin is the ideal test
before a grueling All-Ireland capmaign. Theres no point play-ing
county football and playing for a team that can challenge for
All-Ireland honours if you dont relish the big games. And theres no
better game than Dublin. Playing the Dubs in their own back yard,
an 85,000 seater sta-dium is an absolute dream. And they will make
you work for it in Croke Park. We all know that the Dublin fans
hate to see their side losing at home so its an ideal game. It will
set us up well for the Connacht championship. he said.
Theres something about
playing Dublin that gets players and supporters riled up. We
will have a genuine idea of where we are and what we need to do
after that game.
Dublin have arguably the best panel in Ireland yet it must be
noted that Mayo have reached the semi-finals without the help of
experienced and talented players Alan Dillon and Andy Moran, who
are unlikely to be risked before their championship opener against
Galway on May 19.
Mayo were also without Keith Higgins (hamstring), Barry Moran
(ankle), Tom Cunniffe (Achilles) and Cathal Freeman (collarbone)
for the win over the Rebels. OConnor himself only recovered from a
seri-ous shoulder injury to play in Mayos Connacht U-21 defeat to
the Tribesmen last month but believes that injuries to certain
players have given the Mayo boss a headache because of the standard
set by the players who have come in.
Weve played a couple of new young lads, the likes of Shane
McHale in the full-back line played very well. Cathal Carolan has
been a revelation at wing-half forward and young Cathal Freeman
worked his socks off in the last game until he was injured. That
sort of effort cant be faulted. OConnor said.
Weve tried a couple of new players and its great to see how well
they have adapted to life at senior county level.
Tyrone fans love for Harte as strong as ever
One of the finest demonstrations of how the GAA continues to
play a vital role in communities across the country can be found
when Tyrone play their last league game at home each year.
The team and management emerge from the dressing room in their
training kits and pro-vide the young fans with the chances to pose
for photographs and meet their footballing heroes, strengthening
the bond between team and support in the process.
Last to leave the field every year is Mickey Harte. In his 11th
year as Tyrone senior man-ager, such is the magnetism of the man
that the meet and greet around the crowd see him always become the
It is a heart-warming mutual devotion to behold between a
figurehead of a county that lives and breathes gaelic football and
their loyal and unrivalled support.
In this age of three-year-plans and absolute dedication required
to the job of managing an inter-county team, Hartes longevity
unheard of in any other footballing county in Ireland.
Brian Cody is into his 15th year as Kilken-nys hurling manager
and Sean Boylan served Meath for 23 years. Yet Hartes involvement
with Tyrone didnt just begin 11 years ago when he became nationally
recognisable. Harte began coaching Tyrones county minor team from
1991 to 1998, and then moved on to become the under-21 manager from
98 to 2002. Almost all of the players he had coached in the 90s and
early 2000s played on his senior team. Thats now 22 years of
unbroken service and such a lifelong commitment is mind-bending in
an amateur sport where managers arent allowed to receive payment
for their services because of the traditional laws of the game.
The queue to greet Harte on this Sunday has almost as many
adults as children in it. He carries an aura that people are
During Tyrones sorrowful mysteries over the last 15 years, he
has always represented a
dignified figure, doing the simple things right.
While he gave assis-tance to many, his own sufferings in the
last couple of years have been deeply person-al and in the media
spotlight. When Hartes daughter Micheala was murdered on her
honeymoon in 2011, the Tyrone manager stepped down from the Tyrone
post temporarily so he could grieve, but when he realized his
daughter was immense-ly proud that her father was a
multi-All-Ireland winning manager, he quickly realized he
must return to the position. It is for this that people want to
reach out and speak to one of the most dignified and wisest
footballing men Ireland has seen.
When you see Harte speak to members of the crowd and watch how
he behaves with kids and the elderly, it is hard to believe that
Harte was regarded as a radical figure in Tyrone GAA for many
years, determined and dedicated to the cause of gaining entry to
county competitions for the Gaels of his native Glencull.
In the end, a suitable compromise was found that shows no matter
how entrenched people are in their positions, there is no strength
without unity; N neart go cur le chile (In Gaelic).
Harte could yet be proven right in his asser-tions over the
introduction of the black card, the recent amendment that allows
players to be sin-binned with a black card, banned for a yellow
after the game and sent off for a red, as he has stated the new
rule should be consid-ered a work in progress and not implemented
As a voice in opposition, Harte deserved to be heard arguably
over any other man in Ireland, and he had ample opportunity. Not
all of the media shared his opinion, but then he was wrong to
assert that every media voice disagreed with him.
But Harte keeps working hard, a figure as everlasting and
inscrutable as Mount Rush-more, heading into perhaps the biggest
test of his career. His Tyrone side have are All-Ire-land
under-dogs this year with bookies plac-ing them as 20/1 outsiders.
I have a sneaky suspicion Harte could lift the Sam Maguire this
year, his fourth senior All-Ireland and his eitgth altogether
including the minour and U-21 titles he amassed in the 90s and
Never underestimate a Mickey Harte.Mickey Harte with daughter
Micheala after the 2003 All-Ire-land triumph.
22 years and still going strong
Kilkenny ready to shine for DubsA dual star and potentially the
man to kick Dublin to the All-Ireland this summer; 19-year-old
Ciarn Kilkenny is all set to have a massive year.
No matter where you are from in the coun-try, you have to be
excited by the raw talent and potential of Ciarn Kilkenny, who will
be starring for Dublin in this years All-Ire-land championship. If
youre a Dub, then you have extra reason for celebration after the
young Castleknock forward turned down a
professional contract with Australian Football League side
Hawthorn in order to line out in sky blue and navy this year.
Kilkenny isnt a rookie by any means, how-ever. The Dublin minor
hurler and footballer featured for Dublin in last years campaign,
and started corner-forward in the All-Ireland semi-final defeat at
the hands of Mayo,.
But 2013 looks to be the year he becomes a star, partly because
we thought he was lost to us forever.
Shortly after the All-Ire-land final, it was confirmed that the
long-standing rumour about Kilkenny trying his hand at the AFL was
factual and offers were flooding in. On September 29, Dublin County
Board and Castleknock GAC announced that the athletic Kilkenny had
signed with Melbourne club Hawthorn and with his repertoire of
skills and talents, it was widely anticipated that he would follow
the likes of Zach Tuohy, Pearce Hanley, Tommy Walsh and many more
and become an Aussie Rules star. Kilkennys ability meant that there
were no doubts over whether or not he could adopt to the
Aus-tralian code given that less talented players have gone to
Australia and excelled seemingly effortlessly.
But after just four months, the pull of home was too great for
the Castleknock native and he returned from Oz with the intention
of staying at home and winning All-Ireland medals with Dublin. I
imagine new Dublin boss Jim Gavin couldnt have dreamt of a
better New Years gift.Kilkenny announced his return to GAA
for the Under 21s when he scored 2-10 (16 points) against Carlow
Kilkenny was once again on duty for the senior team and showed
his undoubted brilliance when he set off on a mazy run and left the
experienced Kildare defence choking on his dust before slotting
over the point of the game. Kilkennys Allianz National League
campaign was cut short later in that game when he went over in a
challenge and twisted his knee, although he is expected to return
to action in the middle of May.
Dublin chiefs have assured fans that Kilken-nys medial ligament
isnt serious and he will definitely be fit to feature in Dublins
Leinster Championship opener aginst Westmeath or Carlow on June
Kilkenny is equally as gifted at hurling (Ire-lands other
national sport), yet hurling boss Anthony Daly has so far been
unable to avail of his services. Many experts in Ireland have
voiced concerns over Kilkennys interest in pursuing both codes at
senior level, because the burden of two inter-county campaigns may
take their toll and cause burnout to one of the countrys most
So for now we will just have to revel in his wondrous football
skills. Comfortable off either foot, Kilkenny is very physically
impos-ing for someone his age. His spell in Australia, albeit
brief, has definitely provided him with an increased awareness for
physicality and athleticism.
Dublin, of all counties, arent stuck for talented forwards but
Kilkenny has the extra little spark of brilliance which could make
all the difference in the white-hot heat of Septembers Championship
When you grow up you dream about win-ning All-Irelands with your
club and county and playing in Croke Park. he said, upon rejecting
the contract with Hawthorn.
I wouldnt be surprised if Ciarn gets his wish sooner than he
expects and hes among the Dublin players lifting the Sam Maguire at
the end of the year. Stranger things have happened.
Croke Park on September 28, 2002: Armagh defeated Kerry to win
their first and only All-Ireland. Armagh fans have been on a
decline since that year
Grimley in for the long haulOver 36 years ago, Tony Hanahoe the
Dublin captain in his accept-ance speech following the teams
All-Ireland success over Armagh, commented that the Ulster players
deserved great credit for reaching the final, which is quite an
achievement for a Division Three team.
In the interim period since Ger-ry ONeills players heroics,
Armaghs fortunes have gone from the sublime to the outra-geous.
In the 1990s, when Championship victories proved so rare, there
was little hope in the Orchard County. Towards the end of the
began to breed a few outstanding footballers and the negativity
that surrounded Ulster football was replaced by the highs of a
glitter-ing All-Ireland success in 2002.
This summer, Paul Grimleys side face a similar task as that
faced by the Armagh men in 1977, when they begin their Championship
off the back of a disappointing Third Division campaign, and
perhaps even more unlikely in 1977, the chanc-es of landing the
greatest prize in gaelic football will be slim.
The writing, as they say, will be on the wall this Sunday
following Armaghs crunch National Foot-ball League game against
Galway. The Tribesmen scored 21 points
when they last visited Armaghs Athletic Grounds, a win which
came in total isolation on the back of an unsuccessful league
The Orchard County men, in their prime, went on a 14-game
unbeaten run during the 2005 season before Tyrones Peter Canavan
ended the dream in the All-Ireland semi-finals from a 15-yard
Over the past number of years, particularly under Paddy ORourke
and now Paul Grimley, Armagh have underwent a transi-tional period
and putting togeth-er a string of successive victories has been a
struggle regardless of the opposition.
Armagh have continually worsened since their solitary
All-Ireland triumph in 2002, and despite the minor team winning
the All-Ireland title in 2009, very few players from that team have
made the step up. Armagh football has hit a low ebb and reached its
lowest point when Wexford, deemed a minnows footballing county in
Ireland, embarrassed Joe Kernans men in the All-Ireland
Quarter-Final in Croke Park.
Grimley indicated that hes here for the long haul, irrespective
of Sundays result against Galway. If the worst comes to the worst,
I will hold my hands up and keep trying to do what is right for
this country. I will not run away from this, said Grimley.
I will stay and see it through.With some fans suggesting
Grimley will have a huge task to pull the current county team
around, others regard the Pease Ogs man as the ideal candidate to
sit in the Armagh hot-seat for the next number of years.
But even a win on Sunday would not guarantee the Ulster men
Division Two football next season. Should Armagh win and finish on
six points, if Louth beat Longford who are already rele-gated and
Wexford defeat Laois, Grimleys outfit will still go down.
Supporters will be hoping that Armagh can overcome the Gal-way
challenge otherwise the Ar-magh men, once a superpower in gaelic
football, will definitely be traveling to places like Tipperary,
Limerick and Roscommon, all predominately hurling counties.
So, has Grimley inherited a team in fatal decline, or can the
former Armagh player inject much-needed urgency and commitment into
his side in time for the championship clash with Cavan?
Our performances have been solid all year. We havent played our
best football but we certainly havent been poor. Im confident of
getting a result against Galway on Sunday and we will just take it
from there. That game is our focal point of the season so its the
big game to play for. he said.
Many Armagh fans are still nervous about the Galway clash.
Migration and injury creating worrying trends
Some time in the late spring of 2010, the Leitrim team assembled
at Pairc Sean MacDiarmada to have their photograph taken as the
Two years later, that photo suddenly went viral across GAA
websites. The 32 men in Carrick-on-Shannon that night were either
in black and white or colour after a bit of Photoshop wizardry.
Those in colour were still involved in the county panel. There were
Many Young Men of Twenty was both a play and a song written by
John B. Keane on the imposed emigration of young, energetic males
from Ireland. The song was originally sang about the customs of the
1960s but it could be argued that the same problems are returning
to Irish shores in the modern era. It used to be thought that the
22 men that departed Leitrim were a mixture of average players, and
their low profiles meant that they stood little chance of winning
any silverware in Connacht, particularly during Mayos period of
Compare Leitrims situation sith the three
Down players who emigrated to Australia. The Ulster sides lost
players who recently contested an All-Ireland final, were last
years beaten Ulster finalists, (losing to eventual All-Ireland
champions Donegal) and had bright futures in the game.
A Down example of the Leitrim-style photograph would be hard to
look at for Down supporters, but it would unearth the facts about
managing Down and the challenges that manager James McCar-tan has
faced in his time managing the Mournemen. Perhaps the emigration
could explain Downs decline since contesting the All-Ireland Final
Before the 2010 All-Ireland final, which they lost by a point to
Cork, the starting 15 linked arms for the playing of the anthem.
From left to right on that line, Declan Rooney has been injured
this season. Kevin McKernan has been moved from half-back to plug a
hole in midfield, Paul McComi-skey, who was a star forward in that
year, is taking a break from gaelic football to trabel. Then you
have the enigmatic Martin Clarke, who left in 2011 to resume his
Aus-tralian Rules career- a man that was one of
the best players in the All-Ireland Champi-onship in 2010.
Skip Dan McCartan and John Clarke is next, who has since hung up
his boots. Skip Mark Poland and arrive at Dan Gordon, the once
ever-reliable full-back who has been struggling with niggly
injuries for the past couple of years. The retired Damian Rafferty
came next, beside Danny Hughes who has spent the last two years
wondering if the injuries will ever stop and if hell get to play
again. Conor Garvey is in a similar boat. Peter Fitzpatrick was one
of the many young Irishmen who emigrated last year for a new life
and work, settling in Australia.
The Down team were led that day by their captain, the
charismatic Ambrose Rogers, who could not play due to injury. After
an impressive return last year, he has spent this season laid up
again and has played nothing more than the role of a spectator.
They have also lost the promising Caolan Mooney to Australian
Rules, a footballer who promised to be as good as Marty Clarke.
Last week, McCartan stated that you cant hold it against any
young man that wishes to travel. You have to admire his
Mooney who joined
Injured: skipper Ambrose Rodgers
Marty Clarke joined Collingwood in 2008 and rejoined the AFL
side in 2011
j n c s k n d j k aDOWN Under From left to right:
Down sensation Caolan Mooney, Downs established AFL export Marty
Clarke, and Paul
Teen Mooney stuns Pies
It was routine training session almost three years ago that was
so phenomenal its surprising it is only being spoken about now.
The then Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse had set up a tackle
bag as part of a marking improvement drill when the 17-year-old
Mooney, who had just traveled to Australia for a 4 week trial and
was still doing his A-Levels, stepped up.
Mooneys visit to Westpac Centre was to make him familiar with
the oval ball, but when he ran towards the takle bag, Malthouse was
left stunned. Mooney thought he had to jump over the bag. So he
Malthouse thought it was perhaps a fluke or that Mooneys jump
was all he had in the locker. There were more double-takes when
testing moved indoors.
Mooney, from Rostrevor in County Down, underwent speed, agility
and vertical jump tests as part of the Pies routine.
Magpies officials admitted that they were left in awe of the
results, which ranked the 17-year-old Irishman at the very high end
of all three disciplines.
Two weeks later, 184cm, 76kg Mooney signed a two-year
international contract that would see him stay at the club on a
training basis until July 2012 at least. It was later said that the
jump over a 6 foot 4 teammate hold-ing a tackle bag was all they
had to see.
Having finished school in 2010, the teen skipped the Gaelic club
championship so he could make an early start to training with the
Mooneys modesty is evident but the Collingwood coaches are well
aware of his physical attributes.
Countryman Marty Clarke, a former Gaelic teammate for Down who
became Mooneys mentor, didnt hesitate to talk up Mooneys speed.
I used to be very quick when I was in Ireland but since coming
here, Ive had to bulk up. When Caolan came here I think he was
pretty confident he was the fastest man in Australia at that time,
The strange thing about him is that he is faster carrying the
ball than he is without it, which makes him a nightmare for
everyone to get close to. Usain Bolt may catch him if he were in a
Ferrari, but I think that would be the only chance hed have. Marty
Fellow Irishman Paul Cribbin chipped in: I wouldnt like to have
been marking him when he first came over to Oz. Once hes gone, hes
Mooney suffers asthma, which he admitted could be pretty bad,
adding that it could come on for about five minutes, and you think
I cant go on, but then you just forget about it and it goes
Nearly three years on, and Clarke, who trained with Mooney in
Ireland before he returned to Australia himself, believes it was
only a matter of time be-fore his mate broke into the first
Believe me, he is a talent, and it wasnt surprising that he got
into the first team so quick-ly Clarke said.
He has unbeliev-
able speed and agility and has picked up his kicking quickly. He
could go on to become the best ever Irish export when he bulks up
because the Australian game focuses a lot on leaping and high
catches. Ireland focuses on the kicking aspect but Caolan had the
best and most natural leap in the country when he was only 17 so
hes a natural for this sport.
But Mooney, however, isnt getting carried away with his progress
and says his ambition is to learn the game as quick as I can and
see where I go from there.
Being in Ireland, in an amateur sport, we train maybe four or
five nights a week for nothing. Here youre getting paid, youre
giving up your days ... youre out in the sun and its just a
Collingwood recruit-ing manager Derek Hine first saw Mooney in
the MacRory Cup semi-final in Belfasts Casement Park - the same
venue the Pies noticed Clarke. Mooney was playing for St Cole-mans
College and Mooney played an instrumental part in the teams Ulster
Hes definitely got the scope to play senior foot-ball next year,
Hine said shortly after Mooney had signed his rookie contract.
Hes got to learn the game and theres a lot of water to go under
the bridge, but he could seri-ously be anything. A real talent. We
are so excited. to have someone with so many attributes.
It was a display of athleticism that left Collingwood boss Mick
Carlow star and former AFL recruit Brendan Murphy believes Ciarn
Kilkenny did the right thing in de-ciding not to return to
Australia and an AFL career with Hawthorn.
Murphy spent two years on the books of the Sydney Swans before
refusing the offer of a contract extension and returned to Ireland
Although he didnt make a first team appear-ance for The Swans,
Murphy impressed in the reserves even at a time when he was
experenc-ing numerous injuries, and the former Swans coach Paul
Roos publicly expressed his disap-pointment when he found out
Murphy would be returning to Ireland.The Rathvilly man said he
fully understood Kilkenny;s decision and why he rejected the lures
of professional football in Australia.
I was surprised when I read the statement from the Dublin County
Board and Ciarn. Id heard people saying he was flying in
Aus-tralia, but at the end of the day if he was not happy, and his
heart was dragging him back to Ireland, then its hard to think why
he would stay. said Murphy.
Ciarn said in his statement, and I suppose I can relate to it,
that its great to be a profes-sional and earn money, but for me,
pulling on the Sydney Swans jumper was just not the same as pulling
on a Rathvilly or Carlow jersey.
There is a lot to be said for lining out beside your brothers,
friends and people in the community youve grown up with. For me it
was just not the same in Australia and Ciarn must have experienced
similar feelings to me.
Questioned as to whether the respective contrasting states of
the Australian and Irish economies would influence the decision to
re-turn to Ireland, Murphy was dismissive in his assessment of the
financial factors involved.
If the heart soesnt want to be there then there wont be any
amount of money in the world that could keep you so far from
home.When I first came home people were saying to me that, with the
way things are, would I not be better off staying in Australia.
Its clich but money doesnt guarantee happiness.
Homesickness is often alluded to as one of the big issues facing
young Irish GAA recruits in the AFL, and Murphy admitted he
experi-enced loneliness and longed for home, despite the support of
everyone at the Swans.
The staff done everything they could but at the start the
homesickness was a big thing.
I remember flying back to Australia after my first Christmas and
I found it very difficult to settle again.
You are constantly thinking of home and friends, youd almost
feel physically sick. Al-though people helped, theres just no place
Its not like playing for your club, and Ciarn obviously has a
strong feeling about playing for his club (Castle-knock) and loves
it, and loves playing for Dublin and the
All-Ireland prospects at county and club level probably couldnt
have been ignored for him.
Murphy has no doubt that Kilkenny would have made it in the AFL,
and dismissed notions that Kilkennys contrasting profile in Ireland
and Australia was an issue.
I have no doubt that Ciarn would have made the grade in AFL
because players with half his talent have gone to Australia and
made an impact. He is the hottest property in the GAA at the
Some people might say that (he was a small fish in a big pond in
Australia) but you would not worry about people like that. Ciarn
has a massive opportunity now with his club in an All-Ireland
semi-final and, of course, with Dublin, probaly the best county in
Dublin are one of the best teams in the country so coming home,
for him, gives him the chance to fulfil every dream he ever had as
a child. And good luck to the young man as well.
Kilkenny did the right thing
Brendan Murphy in action for his native Carlow after returning
11 other GAA stars who returned to Ireland after
spells Down Under11- Brendan Quigley
(Laois)In the autumn of 2005, Quigley joined the Brisbane Lions
along with teammate Colm Begley before homesickness saw him return
after a couple of months. He was in talks at the end of 2007 with
Carlton but opted not
to join them and decided to stay with Laois.For Laois, Quigley
either plays at midfield or wing-half forward.The towering
midfielder was part of Laois 2003 All-Ireland Minor Football
Championship winning team. Quig-ley plays his club football for
Timahoe and helped them win the Laois Intermediate foot-ball
championships in 2004 and 2010. Quigley has captained his county
10- Chrissy McKaigue (Derry)
McKaigue came to national prominence with the Derry minor team
in 2007 and after being initially approached by AFL superpower
Carlton, he joined their rivals Sydney Swans in 2009. He was
released by them at the end of 2011 and immediately returned to
Ireland. The current UUJ student lined out for Derry in last years
championship and is expected to be a star for the side for the next
McKaigue is a dual GAA star and plays football and hurling for
his club side Robert Emmets Slaughtneil. In football, McKaigue is
equally as good as a forward and defender, yet in hurling, he plays
solely as a wing half- forward. McKaigue was vice-captain of the
Derry Minor team that were runners-up in both the Ulster Minor
Championship and All-Ireland Minor Championship in 2007. Earlier
that year he won the Ulster Minor Football League with the county,
and lifted the cup as captain.
9- Ciaran Sheehan (Cork)
The 21 year-old, who is currently studying at Cork IT, had a
four-week trial with Carlton during the summer of 2009. But he
turned down the offer of a contract to pursue a Gaelic football
career, justifying his decision by winning an All-Ireland senior
medal the following year in a dramatic one-point game against Down.
He plays Gaelic football and hurling with his local club ire g, his
divi-sional side Muskerry and has been a member of the Cork senior
football team since 2010
Sheehan first played for Cork with the coun-tys minor football
team in 2007. That year he won a Munster title following a 1-16 to
2-8 defeat of Kerry.By 2008 Sheehan had made it onto the Cork minor
hurling team. He quickly added a Munster title in that code to his
collection following a one-point defeat of Tipperary.
8- Brendan Murphy (Carlow)
Murphy was an extremely promising minor player who signed up
with the Sydney Swans in November 2007. He spent two years with the
club, only featuring for the clubs reserve side, before returning
home. The Rathvilly player has since become a leading light for his
6- John Heslin (Westmeath)
Heslin joined up with the Richmond Tigers as a rookie in the
2012 pre-sea-son draft. He only spent three months with the club
before homesickness compelled him to return to Ireland. He now
features for Westmeath and the UCD Sigerson Cup team, winning
Irelands most prestigious college competition, in 2012.
5- Kyle Coney (Tyrone)A 2008 All-Ireland minor medal winner in
2008, Coney joined the Sydney Swans later that year. He returned to
Ireland for Christmas that year but in January 2009 opted not to
return to Australia. Injuries have affected his subsequent career
with Tyrone.Ulster Minor Championships with the county in 2007 and
2008. Coney plays his club football for Ardboe ODonovan Rossa and
won the Tyrone Minor Championship with the club in 2008. He
attended a sports and English specialist school called Holy Trinity
College in Cookstown
7- Kevin Dyas (Armagh)In late 2007, Dyas joined Collingwood
after being a senior panellist with Armagh. He stayed with the club
until the end of 2009 when after injuries and homesickness had
affected his progress, he returned home.
4- Colm Begley (Laois)Begley moved to Australia in 2006 where he
joined the Brisbane Lions. He spent three years with the club,
being named club Rookie of the Year in 2007, but left at the end of
2008 after injury travails. He joined St Kilda in 2009 before
returning home later that year.
2- Marty Clarke (Down)Clarke signed for Collingwood in August
2006 and excellent for the club that he lined out for 46 times. In
2010 he returned to play for Down and won an Allstar as they
reached the All-Ireland final. In October 2011, Clarke rejoined
3- Shields Michael Shields (Cork)The St Finbarrs player joined
Carlton in November 2007 on a two-year rookie contract. But he
returned to Cork in the summer of 2008. Since then with Cork he has
won an All-Ireland senior medal in 2010 as well as two Allstar
1- Tadhg Kennelly (Kerry)Tadhg Kennelly is regarded as The
Master of combin-ing GAA and AFL, and is undoubtedly the best-known
GAA players to have featured in Australian Rules. Kennelly holds
the record of being the only person to have an AFL Premiership
medal (2005) and an All-Ire-land senior football medal (2009). He
signed a rookie contract with the Sydney Swans in 1999, going on to
play 197 AFL games,. Kennelly left Ireland at a very young age and
watched his native Kerry life a number of All-Ireland titles during
his spell Down Under.
Kennelly announced to the Swans that he intended to return to
Ireland for the 2009 All-Ireland season, and the Listowel
nativejustified his decision by fulfilling a childhood dream and
lifting the Sam Maguire Cup after an intense final against fierce
On 12 November 2009, Kennelly signed a two year deal with the
Sydney Swans, marking his return to the AFL. In addition to his
playing role, he took up a coaching role and combined it with his
playing duties. After just one year back in the AFL, the Kerry
legend retired from the sport after the 2011 campaign.
His underage achievements include being on the Kerry underage
squads that won the Munster Minor Foot-ball Championships in 1997
& 1998 and Munster U21 Championship in 1999.