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Still going strong

Sport
Crossmolina’s Paul McGuinness
PERPETUAL MOTION Crossmolina’s Paul McGuinness is pictured in action against Salthill-Knocknacarra’s Maurice Sheridan during last year’s AIB Connacht Club SFC semi-final.

McGuinness still going strong


Rob Murphy

Paul McGuinness is one of Crossmolina’s unsung heroes for over ten years.

FOR well over a decade now Paul McGuinness has been a fixture in the Crossmolina senior football team. Thanks to some good fortune in avoiding injury, and no shortage of hard work, he has also picked up five county championship medals and one All-Ireland in a glorious period for the north Mayo club.
The roving wing-forward has been a key cog in the wheel in each of their title-winning seasons. His service has been unwavering yet one has to ask: what it is that motivates the 32 year old accountant to return each February looking for more?
“Naturally you take every year on its own merits,” McGuinness told The Mayo News last week. “They’re a really good group of lads and it’s very enjoyable playing with them. I can’t speak for other clubs but we get on well as a group and we have had some great success over the years. I think the lads are always hungry for a bit more and that’s the secret to the long-term success of any club.”
That is what makes Crossmolina different; they have that will to succeed, that drive which few can match. Perhaps it’s the yearning for a second All-Ireland title which will cement their place in football folklore or maybe it’s just the simple enjoyment of beating each of their fierce championship rivals in Mayo each year.
An accountant and tax specialist by trade, McGuinness’ unrelenting commitment to football since the early 1990s underlines what playing for the Deel Rovers means to natives of the parish. He has always worked away from the town yet it never curtailed his involvement.
“I worked for a good few years in Dublin and that was difficult,“ he admitted. “I’m closer to home in Galway now and obviously there are a few lads around in Galway to train with as well. So it doesn’t affect my work too much.
“I like doing it and as long as I’m enjoying it I will go back each year. But it’s important to have a balance and make sure football is only part of your life, not taking it over.”
Keeping a healthy balance is important and it’s helped by the fact that the Galway-based Crossmolina players train together in the city midweek. Ergo, they only have to travel to north Mayo on Fridays. So each Wednesday McGuinness is joined by the likes of James Nallen and Peadar Gardiner among others at the NUI, Galway sports fields in Dangan.
“We train one day a week here on Galway and then on Fridays in Crossmolina ahead of a weekend game,” he explained. “On Wednesdays it varies how many of us are there but usually a good-sized group with a few players from other clubs where possible.”
The club scene in Mayo has suffered more than most this summer with long breaks between matches as the county side ploughed on through the championship. McGuinness was one of those club players that had to just make do while he waited for the season to kick-off again.
“First of all it has to be said it must be a nightmare for every club manager. It’s only since the final that Tommy [Jordan] has had his full squad back together.  We only had three league games since April and just those few championship games so there was a long break.
“I played soccer with Crossmolina during that period which has helped with my fitness,“ he added. “As a dual player it can be a hard balance some times but obviously it didn’t clash so that wasn’t a problem this season. In fact it was a big help to me.”
When Crossmolina emerged as a real force in the early 1990s it was off the back of considerable underage success. Few could have believed at the time that 13 years later the club would still be competing at the top table of Mayo football.
“We had a lot of good underage talent around ‘91 as well and they came through to form the side that won the Mayo senior championship in ‘95. Training hasn’t changed that much since then to be honest and the main fulcrum of the team hasn’t changed either which has helped.”
Next Sunday Paul McGuinness, the 5’ 7” wing-forward, is likely to be back to his industrious best in the Crossmolina engine-room. He’ll be making space for his colleagues and creating the scores that will grab the headlines. In essence, most of his work goes unnoticed, but that doesn’t seem to affect the man himself.
“I’m not too bothered where I fit into the team as long as we are winning,“ is his view. “My real concern is a Crossmolina victory and if I can help achieve that in any way then that’s good enough for me.”

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