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The 1997 Mayo minors – where are they now?


THE BOYS OF SUMMER The Mayo minor team of 1997 pictured before their All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Laois. From left, back row: Stephen Walsh, Enda Lavelle, Anthony McDermott, Ger Brady (Claremorris), Seán Campbell, Ger Brady (Ballina), Jarlath O’Malley. Front row: Niall Dunne, Marty McNicholas, Kieran Kilkenny, Alan Costello, Paul Navin, Trevor Mortimer, David Lynch, Gabriel Walsh. Pic: Sportsfile

Daniel Carey

IN some ways, it’s hard to believe 20 years have gone by since these men represented Mayo minors. And yet, a glimpse at the landmark events of 1997 remind us that it was neither today nor yesterday.
The year started with one Mary in the Áras – Robinson – and ended with another – McAleese. John Bruton was Taoiseach when Mayo began their Connacht Championship campaign. By the time they finished, Bertie Ahern was the top man in government.
Ken Doherty won the World Snooker Championship, the IRA declared a second ceasefire, and Radio Ireland (later rebranded as Today FM) went on air.
John P Kean and his management team – Paddy Reilly, Pádraig Regan, JJ Barrett and Cathal Hennelly – were overseeing back-to-back Connacht titles. Mayo had pulled off a ‘great escape’ in the 1996 Connacht minor final, as Jarlath O’Malley came up trumps with a late goal. The Louisburgh man did the business again a year on, scoring seven points from play in Hyde Park against Roscommon.
Since last August, O’Malley has been based in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he lives with his wife Marta and son Conan, works for a US pharmaceutical company called Eli Lilly, and trains the local Gaelic football team.

So what about the rest of the team? Some are on the far side of the world, while others are keeping the home fires burning. Read on …

Seán Campbell
Ballina Stephenites
CONCEDED only one goal in his three Connacht Championship games in 1997, and made some fine saves in the eventual defeat by Laois
A garda in Sligo, he won an All-Ireland Inter-Firms Junior Football Championship title with the Sligo/Leitrim gardaí in 2011.

Anthony McDermott
KEPT his men scoreless throughout the three Connacht Championship matches. Qualified as a QS, spent some time in Saudi Arabia and returned to win an All-Ireland club medal with Salthill/Knocknarcarra in 2006. Finished his playing days with Lahardane. Now working and living in Charleville, Co Cork.

Ger Brady
Ballina Stephenites
STARTED the year at wing back, then moved to full-back, and had a fine game despite marking the excellent Brian ‘Beano’ McDonald against Laois. Represented Mayo at senior level and won an All-Ireland club title with Ballina in 2005. A garda in Galway.

David Lynch
WIDELY praised for his performance in the Connacht final and kept his marker scoreless in the All-Ireland semi-final. One of three Ardnaree men in the squad (alongside Alan Kelly and Johnny Rafter), he’s currently the club’s coaching officer, visiting local schools as part of his remit.

Niall Dunne
PLAYED in three different positions (in defence and attack) during the campaign, making insightful runs and showing great vision particularly against Galway and Leitrim. Played his part in Mayo’s goal against Laois. Works for Mayo Mental Health Association.

Paul Navin
AN inspirational captain. Outstanding against Galway and Leitrim, battled with a hamstring injury against Roscommon, and scored a rousing point against Laois.
A qualified physio, he worked with Garmin Sharp and is now with the Caledonia cycling team. Expects to be operating out of California this year.

Alan Costello
PLAYED in attack against Galway and Leitrim before moving to wing back against Roscommon and Laois. Scored two points in Connacht and was rock solid against Laois. An All-Ireland club title winner with St Vincent’s in 2008, he now manages Éire Óg in Greystones, Co Wicklow and teaches in Stillorgan.

Enda Lavelle
SPENT time at both full-forward and midfield, where he was particularly effective against Galway. Was red-carded but scored 0-2 against Leitrim. All-Ireland club winner in 2001, an Independent candidate in the last local elections. The self-employed building contractor is now Crossmolina GAA Bord na nÓg chairman and minor manager.

Ger Brady
SUPERB in the Connacht League, especially against Galway. Scored two points against both Leitrim and Laois (the latter including a beauty). Injury curtailed his influence in the Connacht final. Still playing junior for Claremorris and works for Bank of Ireland.

Trevor Mortimer
CAME on as a sub against Galway and started the other three games, where his vision was particularly evident in the Connacht final. An NFL winner in 2001, he’s recently returned home after stints working in Africa and the Middle East. A current Shrule/Glencorrib selector.

Jarlath O’Malley
MAN of the match in the Connacht final, scoring 0-7 – all from play. Played for Louisburgh until 2011, trained the St Nicholas’ team in Cork in 2015. Now director of Global Manufacturing Finance at Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis, and remains a passionate Mayo supporter.

Kieran Kilkenny
PLAYED well in the Connacht League, scoring against Galway. Made his championship debut against Laois, where he started well before being replaced by Ballintubber’s Colm Staunton in the second half. Managed Roscommon ladies and Roscommon minors and is now a full-time Mayo GAA coach.

Marty McNicholas
SCORED 2-5 against Leitrim, 0-5 against Galway and 0-4 against Roscommon. Kicked the decisive point in Mayo’s 2001 NFL final victory over Galway. Won Mayo JFC and IFC titles with Breaffy. A current Breaffy selector and junior B player. Plumber living in Castlebar.

Gabriel Walsh
SWITCHED with his club-mate Lavelle to great effect against Galway. Scored Mayo’s only (excellent) goal against Laois. Was still playing for Crossmolina until last year, having done a stint with Lahardane, where he lives. Sales manager with Irish Life and current Deel Rovers junior manager.

Stephen Walsh
VERY good in both the Connacht semi-final against Leitrim and the All-Ireland semi-final against Laois, scoring a point in both games and unlucky not to get a goal in Croker. Having taught in Breaffy and Abu Dhabi, he’s now vice-principal of an international school in Beijing, China.

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