COMING THROUGH Westport's Brian McDermott won his first Mayo SFC medal recently. Pic: Sportsfile
Westport defender Brian McDermott on his club’s breakthrough Mayo SFC success
IN the journey through life, many trips are taken.
Some of them are metaphorical and embedded in the thought process, while others are living, breathing moments of pure joy.
On Sunday week, October 30, Brian McDermott left his Westport home and went for a spin with two great friends. Lee Keegan was at the wheel, Kevin Keane was riding shotgun and McDermott hopped in the back.
They went to Castlebar, helped win the club’s first county senior title and came home. It was the journey of a lifetime — the culmination of a dream.
“They put the young fella in the back. The two of them are in their thirties and I haven’t reached that milestone just yet, so they probably needed the legroom,” the dynamic centre-half-back told The Mayo News with a broad smile stretched across his face.
“Joking aside. They’re the finest of men. The two of them have been there every day for me since I started playing. They’ve always been top class fellas and top-class sports people, so it was great to see it pay off for them.
“Kevin is my brother-in-law. I’m married to his sister Laura, so it was even more special from a family point of view.”
Meeting Laura when he was a teenager had a major impact in more ways than one on Brian McDermott. Already showing great talent in soccer, rugby and tennis, he hadn’t played football in any organised manner.
But that changed when he visited the Keane homestead in Fahy.
“I don’t come from a big GAA background. I have four brothers and not one of them play. I met Laura when I was 15 and when you spend any time around the Keanes you cannot avoid getting involved in football.
“So it was inevitable that I’d start playing and I’ve never regretted it for a second.
“I’ve the greatest of memories and the greatest of friends because of it and I’ve a lot to be thankful for,” he added before describing the homecoming after winning the county title in historic fashion.
“Coming into town was special. Seeing the crowds waiting for us on the street and on The Fairgreen made it real. Getting up on the stage and seeing the crowd in front of us was something I won’t forget.”
In the days following that maiden victory, McDermott and his friends celebrated like never before.
They found quiet corners and enjoyed one another’s company as only county champions can.
“The last few days have been brilliant. Nobody can take it away from us now – we’ve done it. It’s bigger than anything we’ve ever done before, bigger than winning the intermediate All Ireland because the difficulty in winning the senior championship is different level. We’ve enjoyed the fun together.”
Of course, Westport are no strangers to celebrations.
In 2017 Brian McDermott captained the club to an All-Ireland intermediate title in Croke Park, but that wasn’t as precious as what the team achieved in recent weeks.
“Winning the All-Ireland was huge and very special for me because I was the captain. This is different though. Winning the senior championship here in Mayo is a different thing entirely in terms of difficulty.
“I honestly feel the team that won the All Ireland wouldn’t even get out of the group stages in the senior championship – that’s how competitive it is. There’s such a huge difference between intermediate and senior.
“After we won in Croke Park some people thought it was inevitable we’d push on and win a senior championship, but that’s not how things work.
“I don’t know where the expectation was coming from because we had never won a senior title and it’s so hard to even compete at the top in Mayo, never mind break through and win the first one.
“We had good players, but this team had never even got to a final, so talk of us winning it was very premature.
“Last year we were beaten by Belmullet in the semi-final,” he added. “Belmullet were the better team on the day, brought the ‘dog’ to it and deserved to win.
“But that was a hugely disappointing day.”
In the following months the Westport men gathered themselves and set off in search of the Holy Grail once again. On a Sunday evening in October, they finally got their hands on Paddy Moclair. Was all the pain and disappointment worth it in the end?
“You better believe it. Best feeling ever.”
Name: Brian McDermott
Occupation: Senior Financial Advisor, Hastings Insurance.
Did you know? Brian captained Westport to win the All-Ireland Intermediate club title
Brian McDermott on…
Mayo’s new management
THERE are a lot of really good people involved.
I played FBD a few years ago under Stephen Rochford and he’s a very knowledgeable, nice guy. Damien Mulligan did massive things for Belmullet and will bring a lot to the Mayo set-up.
Of course, Kevin McStay is a very talented guy and the rest of the management group are very impressive. Nobody really knows how things will go.
We don’t know what style of football they’ll play or the positions certain guys will play in and that makes it very exciting for everyone.
I LOVE Christmas. I’m part of a family of eight, so Christmas is always a special time — a time for family and friends and I’ll look forward to it even more if we have another medal or two to be looking at!
Living in westport
I LOVE Westport. It’s a beautiful town with beautiful people and our family business (Hastings Insurance) is based here. My mother is a Corcoran so I have countless cousins around here too which makes it very special.
I love Mayo and Ireland too and would never ask to move abroad.”
Favourite other sport
AT the moment the only other sport I try to play is golf. When I was growing up I played everything – tennis, soccer, rugby. I love all sports and I’m big into Formula 1. I’m meant to be going to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but that’s on the weekend of the Connacht Club final, so hopefully I might have to cancel the flights!