LEADING FROM THE FRONT Former Ballintubber captain Danny Geraghty has been supporting his teammates from Australia this year.
Ballintubber’s Danny Geraghty has been cheering on his former teammates from his adopted home in Australia
IT’S never easy walking away from something when the end goal seems so close and Danny Geraghty knows that feeling better than most.
Only last year the imposing midfielder captained his beloved Ballintubber when they fell agonisingly short in the County Final against Castlebar Mitchels. Although shrouded with disappointment, the former Mayo senior knew there and then that better days lay only a short distance down the track for that group of players.
But outside of football, life must go on and Geraghty was keen to explore new pastures beyond Ireland and the O’Neills. After weighing up all his options he took the difficult decision to pack his bags and head off on a new adventure.
“I decided I would go traveling in early 2017, probably around February or March that year,” the 27 year-old told The Mayo News from Australia last week. “I think I needed a break to just get away and try something new, and see a bit of the world.
“It was an extremely difficult decision, especially after coming so close last year and losing out to a great Castlebar team. There was a sense after the game that I was leaving something special behind. “It was also the first time my four brothers (Ray, Joe, Hugh and Noel) and I played together on the same team, which made it an even a harder decision to leave.
“But there are other aspects to life than football and I think overall it was the right choice. I was getting too comfortable with life and change was needed.”
His travels took him across South America and Hawaii before eventually settling in Sydney, Australia, and he hasn’t looked back since. By all accounts ‘life is going well’, he says.
The three-time Mayo SFC winner is working as a Project Engineer with Quickway Construction, an Irish company set up in 2006. He’s still playing football for his local club in Australia and even gave the oval ball a try when the season finished.
“I played centre. I have to avoid the Fijian forwards,” he laughed.
And thanks to Mayo GAA TV, he was able to follow Ballintubber’s journey through the Mayo SFC, including their two titanic tussles with Castlebar Mitchels.
“I streamed all the games and watched them in my apartment,” he said. “It was good because two of my good friends are in Sydney too, Ciaran Mulgrew (Breaffy) and Darren McTigue (Castlebar), so I had good friendly competition for each game.
“Watching the games was torture, if I’m honest. I couldn’t relax or enjoy any game. The nerves and anxiety was kicking in and I was lucky the games were on early Sunday morning here because I could barely sleep waiting on it or afterwards.”
You can only imagine the scenes in that room when his younger brother, Joe, scored the point that gave Ballintubber their fourth Moclair Cup.
“It was a crazy moment, I think it was just shock,” he mused. “Anyone who knows Joe or watched the 2014 County Final can agree his shooting is erratic at times!
“At the time, I just saw a red jersey and was shouting at Jason [Gibbons] ‘one more pass’ and then I realised it was Joe. The fact that it was so late in extra-time in a County Final replay against Castlebar, who had beaten us in the past three years, it was just amazing – I went f****** nuts!
“I know how much effort he’s put in this year, from the very first training session, and I was a very proud brother.”
WATCHING on from the Southern Hemisphere and overcome with pride and joy, Geraghty couldn’t help but feel somewhat detached from the win and celebrations that followed.
He’d have loved nothing more than to be at home in the midst of all the madness, but in the greater scheme of things he has no regrets about moving away.
“It was bittersweet,” he candidly admitted of his emotions after the final. “Nothing made me happier than to see Ballintubber win the County Final. However, without doubt there was homesickness and a desire to have been there to congratulate the lads and to celebrate with them.
“But I have no regrets about leaving and I’m happy with my decision. I do regret not flying home for the County Final. I missed out on a good session by the looks of things!”
GERAGHTY was involved last time Ballintubber and Corofin met in the Connacht Club Final back in 2014 and doesn’t need reminding of the almighty challenge that faces the Abbeysiders. But he’s quietly confident all the same.
“I remember a fair bit from that game  … I was on the bench, so I got a great view of it!,” he recalled with a smile. “I felt we took a step back in the second half. But I think if we can get one or two scores from defenders and take risks from the back, we can put them on the back foot. Obviously that’s easier said than done.
“I don’t think it would be a huge upset if Ballintubber won. There has been close competition with Castlebar and Ballintubber for the last few years and having seen Castlebar’s achievements at provincial and national level, I believe any team that comes out of the Mayo championship has a great chance of winning Connacht.
“It would be a massive achievement for the club and county [to win]. It will be a well-deserved success for the players who have put in years of work to get there.
“For such a small village to achieve this, it would be monumental.”