BATTLE READY Tourmakeady’s Danny Lydon and David Prendergast closing in on Castlebar Mitchels’ Kevin Filan during the recent Mayo Intermediate Football Championship game at Josie Munnelly Park. Pic: Conor McKeown
I’m often late submitting these pieces. I try to convince myself that it makes me feel like a real journalist to have an editor hassling me over deadlines. The reality is that I tend to leave things to the last minute, giving poor Ciara a headache.
This time though, I think I have a valid excuse. The GAA’s Comórtas Peile na Gaeltachta was on the June Bank Holiday weekend, dashing any hopes of having my copy in early.
This year, I’m working with the Tourmakeady footballers, who were the hosts of the national Comórtas, a veritable feast of football for all Gaeltacht clubs.
It’s a while since I spent so much time in a team environment, preferring for a few years the solitude of running. My reasoning being that when you spend all week in a small room with other people, the last place you feel like being on a weekend is a small dressing room with other people. But the last few months have brought some of that buzz back, and the season so far has already had every one of the stresses that a full season will have.
There was a string of inexplicable losses early on. Despite training going well and wise old heads coming back to guide the crop of youngsters through, results just weren’t coming.
Then, as so often happens, something clicked and the balls that were previously being lost were won, the wides went over, and the first league match was a big win. And like the buses, once one came along, so did a handful.
The first Championship match against Castlebar Mitchels reminded me of an Irish rugby match of old. We were off to a slow start and behind by four or five early on, only to dig deep and come in level at half-time. Unfortunately the second half was what made me think of the old rugby matches – the superior firepower of Mitchels saw them come home over the top – a valiant defeat but a defeat nonetheless.
For a while things settled, training going well and matches being won, with everything brewing nicely towards the season’s main focus, a home Comórtas. If you haven’t been out to Tourmakeady recently, you should go. The club and community have worked tirelessly to raise funds for a new clubhouse and sports hall that would be the envy of any in the country.
But, like the build-up to any major championship, there had to be an injury drama as well. Less than a fortnight before throw-in there’s a hamstring strain to a key forward and the club’s free-taker. To compound matters, just as a bit of light shows at the end of a stressful few days and he gets back running, there’s the small matter of him accidentally head-butting a fridge and needing ten stitches.
You couldn’t write it if you tried, and nobody would believe you if you did.
So there we were, heading into the first match, the semi-final, against Mayo rivals Achill and doubts over the key man. He was not able to start but came on in the second half – looking like a modern day Willie Joe Padden with a heavy-duty head bandage – to kick the winning point. Tourmakeady were through to the final and a huge weight was off everyone’s shoulders.
Bank Holiday Monday saw the lads take on St Naul’s from Donegal in the final. Our injured forward started, but his troublesome hamstring went just after half-time. The joys of trying to play two games in two days with an under-pressure muscle injury.
His replacement came on and scored a goal with his first touch of the ball, and it looked like it might be Tourmakeady’s day.
But, after having a player sent off, Tourmakeady struggled to stay with St Naul’s who eventually won by six after a gallant effort from our lads.
All the stress and excitement left me a little keyboard shy, so yes, I missed my article this time too. Next time, Ciara, I’ll do better. Or to quote Bart Simpson, ‘I can’t promise I’ll try, but I’ll try to try’.
Andrew O’Brien is a chartered physiotherapist and the owner of Wannarun Physiotherapy and Running Clinic at Westport Leisure Park. He can be contacted on 083 1593200 or at www.wannarun.ie.