LOOKING TO KICK ON Westport’s Laura Moran is pictured during the recent Mayo LGFA senior championship win over Castlebar Mitchels. Pic: Conor McKeown
Next Sunday’s Mayo LGFA semi-final is a classic local derby
THEY soldiered together for more than half a lifetime, but next Sunday morning they’ll be the most passionate of opponents.
Neil Chambers and Colm McManamon will shake hands before and after the Mayo LGFA senior club championship semi-final, but between those greetings will be an enthralling encounter between the footballers of Westport and Burrishoole and their two managers — friends and former team-mates.
“Colm and myself soldiered together all our football lives. We played underage, vocational schools, Under-21, intermediate and senior together for Burrishoole and Mayo,” Neil Chambers, the Westport ladies manager told The Mayo News last Wednesday night after training.
“He’s one of the finest men one could ever meet and I was proud to play alongside him. We were on the sideline together for a few years too, and he was just as passionate and dedicated there,” added ‘Neily’, the man who did everything from kicking points to managing the senior team in McGovern Park in Newport.
Next Sunday he will send out his Westport team to try and deny his home club a place in the County Senior Final for the first time.
It won’t be an easy task for the Shramore native, but it’s a challenge he has to meet.
“I live and work in Westport and our daughters play with the club, but I’ll always be a Burrishoole man. It’s where I played my football since I was a young fella and where I made friends for life. We had a lot of ups and downs along the way, we won games and lost games, but they were the greatest of days.
“But, I’m the Westport manager and we’ll be doing everything we can to win the game and get to the county final. That’s the way sport is sometimes and having Colm up the line from me will be a bit unusual, but it won’t make any difference to either of us while the game is on,” he added before turning his attention back to the man he played alongside for so long.
“Colm deserves so much from football. He has given so much of himself to the club over the years on the field and then as manager. If anyone ever deserved a day in the sun it’s Colm, and I certainly wouldn’t begrudge it to him, but for an hour next Sunday, we’ll be trying to get the better of each other.”
The Westport boss is excited about the big game. His team have been preparing since early January for a run at the championship.
The dedication and drive of the group has kept the manager and his team of Kenneth Chambers, Brian Regan and Sinead Kennedy highly enthused, and now they face one of the biggest games of the year against one of their great rivals.
Chambers is well aware of the talent and spirit the Burrishoole women will bring to St Patrick’s Park on Sunday and is preparing his charges for the battle of their lives.
“They have top class players all over the field. I had some of them with me when I was involved with Mayo underage teams and they have experience in every line too. All the players know each other very well. They went to school together, they grew up together and they socialise together, so this game means an awful lot to both sets of players, but I’d look at it differently.
“These are days to be enjoyed, days when the excitement should be embraced and remembered. It’s only now, I realise the great days I had when I was playing, but at the time I was too caught up in the moment. Playing football with your friends is to be enjoyed and I hope everyone gets huge enjoyment out of next Sunday’s game.”
Throw-in will take place at 11am in Westport’s home ground of St Patrick’s Park.
In the moments beforehand, two lifelong friends will shake hands and wish one another luck. Then, they will go to war!
Mayo LGFA SFC semi-final
Westport v Burrishoole
Sunday, October 2
Westport at 11am