QUIET CONTEMPLATION Brian Naughton is pictured in Tourmakeady last weekend.
The life of Brian
TWENTY-FOUR years have passed since Tourmakeady last welcomed the Sweeney Cup back to the village.
Brian Naughton was born that year, and if things work in their favour next Sunday then he will be the man bringing it back home once again.
Home to Ballybannon where his father Pat returned in 1982 after helping Tourmakeady take the title. Home to a house where Brian and his brother Tom learned their footballing trade. Home to where the heart is.
“There are half a dozen families representing this Tourmakeady team so I suppose that has an obvious bonding effect,” he mused last weekend. “I’m not quite sure what other teams make of us but we take our football seriously.
“We’re not surprised to be in the final to be honest,” he added. “We feel we’re good enough to be there and having very few injuries and nobody away for the summer has helped us. We’ve also got a few lucky breaks along the way that has made a big difference.”
Naughton has been working as a software engineer with Ericcson in Athlone for the past eighteen months. He travels west at the weekends for football though and he admits that he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I would feel that Intermediate football is every bit as competitive as senior and is taken just as seriously by clubs. We’re training just as hard as senior clubs.
“I was doing a bit with Garrycastle back in April and May and then I started training on my own. It was really just ticking over because I felt what we were doing at the weekend in Tourmakeady was enough to keep me going at the time.
“I’m enjoying my football now but I always do anyway. I’d play in any role for Tourmakeady. I don’t know why I was chosen as captain to be honest. I’d say my few words before a game but I’d be fairly quiet the rest of the time. We’re lucky that we have so many leaders on the field.”
What Brian Naughton neglects to mention is that he is one of them. Seven years ago he travelled to Australia with the Irish U-17 Compromise Rules squad. David Padden from Belmullet and a certain Conor Mortimer were also in that panel.
Naughton was being talked about as a potential Mayo footballer. He had the look of a star of the future. But injury intervened and Naughton focussed his attention on his club career.
“I came back from that Tour and I had a lot of problems with my hips,” he explained. “It took me two years really to get it sorted out but I was probably that bit off inter-county standard anyway. “The offer has been there during the last two years to go down for trials but I don’t think I’m good enough to play at that level so I didn’t go down.”
But Mayo’s loss has been Tourmakeady’s gain. Naughton has been one of the team’s lynch-pins this season, drifting around their attack to link play and nail scores. Always in the thick of things, and he can’t wait for next weekend.
“There’s no way we’re going to be complacent next Sunday. There are two teams in the final, not one. Parke have beaten good teams to get there and were very impressive against Ballyhaunis in the semi-final. We feel we’re good enough to win a county title soon. This team have done a lot of work though to get to this stage.”
That work has been mapped out by Pat Burke, Jack Grimes and Tom Whelan, the same three men that will ask Brian Naughton to lead Tourmakeady out next Sunday.
“I don’t think I’ll be any more nervous than usual or than any other Tourmakeady player. The last county final I played in was the U-21 Final back in 1999 so I can’t really remember what that was like.
“Will I pass the ball to Tom much? No”, smiles Brian. “He’s just another player in black.”