Donal O'Sullivan reports.
From Playing to Podcasting – Sean Ban talks about life after Inter county
The GAA consumes us. At mass, in pubs, on the street, everyone
can relate to it and everyone loves to discuss it. Their opinion is
right no matter what. But that’s the beauty of it after all isn’t it?
The community is the GAA and that is what makes it so special.
Watching our local club players train and commit their days,
evenings and weekends to the amateur game. All in the hope of
winning a divisional or county championship with their club.
More harbour hopes of playing with their county one day.
For most this remains a dream but for others it becomes reality.
Intercounty players dedicate their lives to playing for their county.
At the time this consumes them and they know no different.
But when the time comes to hang up the boots there is a massive
void to be filled. To try to understand what it is actually like I
recently caught up with ex Kerry All Ireland winning footballer
Following retirement in 2009 it wouldn’t have been unfair of
Mary, Seans fiancée at the time, to expect things to calm down
in the O’Sullivan household. A successful senior career with Kerry
spanning over 7 years that resulted in a medal haul of 4 All Ireland,
4 Munster & 3 NFL titles had just come to an end. Focus quickly
turned to their wedding the following year and a lovely house
soon became a home right next to the water in the small village of Cromane. However Mary knew only too well that it was a only matter of time before Sean got involved again. This was obvious when they visited her relations in Antrim and Sean joined in with training with St. Patricks of Lisburn - a GAA club steeped in history. What’s more is Sean also knew it.
“I really missed the lads and the craic in the dressing room. The big games left a huge void in my life, Munster final day in Killarney, All-Ireland final day in Croke Park, going to war with lads, winning and losing together. Not having that was hard to get used to. Not having to do the winter training was the only bonus” he says with a wry smile. He threw himself into club football with Cromane but found this very difficult at first. “I still prepared and minded myself as if it was the county set up. But the standard of dedication and preparation etc. for club football just isn’t the same. That’s not being disrespectful to anyone. That was hard to adapt to at first. I was demanding too much of myself and of other players. Once I stepped back and accepted this I found that I started to enjoy it a lot more. At my age it is all about being fresh for games now as opposed to being fit for games and I hope to play until the lads have to drag me off the field”.
Life moved on quickly and maintaining friendships built up over the years with the county became much more difficult. So it was no surprise when he decided to get back involved in the game. “I was working in Bank of Ireland but I knew a desk job wasn’t for me. I was always into my training and staying fit. I loved the idea of motivating people and it was something that I wanted to pursue”. He qualified as a personal trainer in 2013 setting up his own business SOS Personal Training (you can follow him on Facebook & Twitter by the way). By this time he had left his role in the bank and decided to take a gamble with his future. A coaching role with the Kerry county board soon followed. Primarily coaching development squads this was a role he obviously enjoyed. “I’d have been involved with a lot of the Kerry lads who
went on to win 4 in a row at minor level and this is something I am
very proud of. This role lasted 6 years but I have had to step away
from that which is obviously disappointing but there is a lot going
on at the moment".
Three boys have since been born into the family and it’s safe to
say life has got a lot busier. Ryan (5), Dylan (3) & Aaron
(2 this month) will no doubt one day look to follow in his
footsteps but that’s a tough road especially in Kerry.
“Mary is a midwife in Tralee so I spend my days minding the
lads and in the evenings I try to work away with the fitness
classes and my media work. I’d a brief spell with Kerry radio
recently but the workload was just too much over weekends so
unfortunately I’m not involved with that anymore.
Contributing to Off The Ball is something I like doing and this has given me an appetite for this side of things”.
Media work is to the forefront of his plans at the moment. Currently in the process of setting up an office closer to home his plan is a podcast studio (again available on Twitter @player_lounge he quietly reminds me). The hope is to get past and present sports stars in to discuss what makes them tick. There should be no shortage of interviewees down west. Couple that with writing a championship column for the Kerryman newspaper, a coaching role with Mid Kerry seniors, a management role with the IT Tralee Sigerson team and it’s safe to say he was probably at home more when he was still involved with the Kerry set up.
When the discussion turns to the here and now and the current Kerry panel his demeanour changes. You can see how the “gra” for it still burns deep inside even after all these years. “They aren’t as good as the team who hammered Cork and they aren’t as bad as the team that were turned over by Galway. I firmly believe this is a team in transition and that game against Galway will have brought on the youngsters something unbelievable. It’s still a year or two too soon for this panel I think. You can’t buy experience, leadership and guile but this will all come in time. With the conveyor belt of talent coming through the future is bright”. He pinpoints the huge success of the underage development squads in Kerry as a major contributing factor to the senior set up. Cork could do well to replicate this because as he puts it himself “Kerry need Cork going well, the entire Munster championship needs to be competitive so that whoever advances is prepared for the All Ireland series”.
Before letting him go I ask him about the late legend down west Paidi O Se and his now infamous quote and what would he make of Dublin dominating? “Listen……everyone in Kerry knew what he meant. I think the current team will win an All-Ireland in the next 3 to 4 years. But that’s not good enough down here. Supporters don’t have the patience especially when one team is dominating. Ex-players find it hard to say it but in fairness to Tomas O’Se he is probably the only person saying it straight in public. It is killing us as Kerry people to see Dublin dominate. Christ I’d even accept a Cork victory at this stage to break it up”.
Pic: Cromane GAA Twitter
Football Without Fans Is Nothing.
They travelled more in hope than in expectation but isn’t that what being Irish is all about? National football matches are renowned for the travelling support of the Irish. Cork City fans recent trip to Warsaw for the 2nd leg of their Champions League qualifier was no different. Close to 250 diehard fans made the 4,000km plus round trip to the Polish city to watch their team take on a much more experienced outfit. In recent years Legia Warsaw have avoided defeat to the likes of Real Madrid and Ajax so overturning a 1-0 deficit from the home leg was always going to be a big ask.
One of those fans who travelled was Colin Kavanagh. A Cork man now plying his trade in Dublin. When the draw was made he didn’t have to think twice about travelling to Warsaw. “It was an unbelievable trip and I’d do it again in the morning. The atmosphere, from both sets of fans, was unreal. The day before the game and the day of the game were great. We spent the day singing Frank and Walters songs as well as the Fields of Bishopstown”. In typical Irish fashion, despite the result, this didn’t abate after the final whistle. The travelling fans remained in the stadium for up to an hour after the game ended to sing songs and applaud the players throughout their warm down. The remaining rival fans even acknowledged their dedication and applauded their efforts. This ensured the party lasted long into the night. As a famous banner says “Football Without Fans Is Nothing”.
A lifelong Cork City fan dating back to
around 1995 he credits his love for the
team to his father. “He took me to my first
game in Bishopstown when I was lucky
enough to be mascot led out by the great
Declan Daly, I’ll never forget that moment
for as long as I live”. A season ticket holder
in his younger years, notwithstanding a
brief exodus from the League of Ireland
when work took him to the UK and
Australia; he now gets to as many away
games as he can from his base in Dublin.
While obviously losing Seanie Maguire
(someone he feels City will never see
the likes of again) was obviously a huge
blow he feels the squad in general is
improving. “I think we have a great squad
at the moment and it’s actually under-rated.
You have to respect John Caulfield for playing with what he’s got. When we had Seanie we played magnificent stuff. I’m almost more impressed with the way we have ground out results this season than I was with the expansive football we played when we had Seanie. The addition of Damien Delaney will be immense, just the experience and composure he brings was evident on his debut. The experience he will bring to the club and to the younger lads will be invaluable”.
At a time when the League of Ireland is making headlines for the wrong reasons (wages not being paid etc.) Colin was fairly damming in his assessment of the whole situation and felt the country missed a trick. “The introduction of Eir last year was widely welcomed but it was nothing short of a disgrace that the match wasn’t carried by any Irish broadcaster on Tuesday night. I could understand the home leg not being televised as it was clashing with the world cup semi-final but surely promoting the likes of these games can only be of benefit to the league”.
Back on “terra ferme” at his desk in Dublin the true reality of the trip to Poland hit home. Cork City’s defeat to Legia means they now drop into the Europa League qualifiers. That’s where his problems start and when asked about attending both legs, in typical fashion, his response was emphatic. “I only have 5 days annual leave left for the rest of the year after both Legia games, but yes, you can be damn sure I’ll be going to both”. As they say in Turners Cross #bittyforcity
left to right is Sean, Trev & Colin enjoying the craic in the local pub prior to kick/ Away end . Photos: Colin Kavanagh
The travelling Cork City fans. Pic taken from the Cork City twitter account
Kilmacabea Vs Kilbrittain,
St. James Park, Ardfeild.
First round of the Junior A Football Championship 2018
Donal O'Sullivan reports.
Reigning champions Kilmacabea got their quest for back to back West Cork Junior A titles off to a winning start at a windy St. James Park on Sunday afternoon when they easily accounted for Kilbrittain in a repeat fixture of last years final. Stiffer tests lie ahead for the men from Leap, if they are to retain their crown, as they ran out convincing winners on a score line of 1-13 to 5 points. In reality this game should have been dead and buried by half time if Kilmacabea had taken their chances and that is something that was of concern to team manager Noel McCarthy. “We’re obviously delighted with the win but there is a lot to be worked on. We have a few young lads who have come in to the team and they all played really well but there is still a lot to do in terms of fitness and ball work and that’s something that we will be working on when we get back together. With the new championship structure in place this year we’ll take a break now for a week or so and get back together and see where we go from there”. Given that they fielded a team without the services of Ritchie O’Sullivan and Joe Collins, not to mention the fact that Damien Gore only played a bit part, there is reason for optimism in Leap but they won’t be getting ahead of themselves over a victory which saw them miss a penalty, play against a team reduced to 14 men for a third of the game (Kilbrittains Josh O’Donovan seeing red for a tangle with a Kilmacabea player in the 41st minute) while also taking into account Kilbrittains lack of attacking penetration in the final third.
While Kilmacabea will no doubt be happy with the win they won’t be
getting too carried away given the quality of the opposition on the
day who struggled to really get going in the game and failed to
threaten the Kilmacabea defence at any stage. It was difficult to tell
which team was aided by the elements in a windswept Ardfield
but it seemed to matter little to the men from Leap.
The game was barely 50 seconds old when a burst through the
centre by wing back Donnacha McCarthy resulted in Dan Lynch
splitting the uprights and this set the tone for what was to come
for the rest of the half. Clive Sweetnam doubled the lead after
four minutes when he drilled over a beauty with the outside of
his boot following good interplay between Diarmuid O’Callaghan
& Sam O’Driscoll. Two minutes later and the lead was extended
when Donnacha McCarthy, who was a constant threat to the losers
all game with his attacking overlaps, drove through the heart of the
Kilbrittain defence to fire over. In the 9th minute Kilmacabea were
awarded a penalty when the lively Dan Lynch was fouled but
Diarmuid O’Callaghans weak penalty was easily saved by
Seamus O’Brien in the Kilbrittain goal. Josh O’Donovan
registered Kilbrittians first point of the game shortly after when
set up after some quick exchanges of passes by Morgan Madden
& Tom Harrington but normal service was resumed when
Dan O’Donovan, who scored 1-5 on the day from midfield,
kicked a point after a quick break from defence by the Leap
half back line. He added a free a minute later to make
it 5 points to 1 with 17 minutes on the clock.
Ian Jennings hit the post for Kilmac before Kilbrittain,
who deployed Maurice Sexton as a sweeper but gave him license to roam, got their second point in the 20th minute from the boot of Tom Harrington but this was cancelled out by another pointed free from Dan O’Donovan. A Sam O’Driscoll point made in 7 points to 2 with three minutes left to the short whistle. The game was virtually over as a contest a minute later when Ian Jennings, whose pace & ball wining ability caused Kilbrittain problems all day, was fouled by Seamus O’Brien. Up stepped Dan O’Donovan to rattle the net and leave Kilbrittain with a mountain to climb in the second half. Declan Harrington & Sam O’Driscoll swapped points to leave it 1-8 to 3 points at half time.
If Kilbrittain were to harbour any hopes of a comeback they needed to get the first couple of scores in the second half but these hopes were well and truly dashed when Dan O’Donovan kicked his 4th of the game, a beauty with the outside of the boot from 45 metres out, thirty seconds after the resumption and this was quickly followed by a point from his midfield partner Martin Collins to stretch the lead to 10 points. In the 36th minute another long distance effort from Dan O’Donovan extended the lead to 11 and Kilbrittain were struggling to get their hands on the ball. In the 41st minute they eventually broke the Kilmacabea rearguard only for a goal bound effort to be deflected wide for a ’45. The resultant kick dropped short & following a tangle for possession the men from Leap were awarded a free out which also resulted in Kilbrittain being reduced to 14 when referee Michael Collins showed wing forward Josh O Donovan a straight red card. Kilbrittain kicked the next two points, in the 49th & 52nd minutes but from there to the final whistle it was a case of keeping hold of the ball and playing out the clock for last years winners. Damien Gore, who had entered the fray as a second half substitute and added an extra dynamic to the winners attacking forward line, kicked the final two scores of the game to leave it Kilmacabea 1-13 Kilbrittain 5 points. Kilmacabea move forward to the next round, whenever that will be, while Kilbrittain will have to work very hard if they are to repeat last years run to the West Cork final.
CARBERY GAA AWARDS 2017
On Friday, February 23rd, the inaugural Carbery GAA 2017 Awards took place in The Westlodge Hotel, Bantry. These annual awards have replaced the Tim Buckley Financial monthly awards that were run in recent years and are aimed to cover the entire GAA umbrella.
Aidan O’Rourke of Newcestown undertook the MC duties for the night and joked that Marty Morrissey had to withdraw due to his on-going dancing commitments. The recent All Ireland winning Carbery Scor group opened proceedings with an outstanding performance.
Special guest on the night was current Cork senior camogie manager Paudie Murray. On addressing the hall Paudie highlighted his love for all things West Cork and how he always enjoyed returning “home” even though he has spent most of his life living in the city. He mentioned the amazing talent that is currently involved in GAA throughout West Cork, a point emphasised by current Cork senior camogie panellists Orla Cronin and Libby Coppinger as well as Cork senior ladies football panellist, and Bantry native, Emma Spillane who won an All Star award at corner back in her debut season. He also paid special tribute to recently retired Cork senior footballer and St. Colums GAA footballer Alan O’Connor who has given years of outstanding service to his club and county as well as Kevin O’Donovan of Kilmeen/Kilbree who was recently elected as vice chairperson of the county board.
The monthly awards which covered all
things GAA ranging from Scor,
refereeing, football, hurling, and
camogie were presented to the recipients
by Paudie Murray along with
Carbery GAA board officers
Donal McCarthy (secretary) and
Joe Crowley (chairman). A number of
teams, represented by players
or officers, and individuals were
in attendance to receive the awards.
Martina Burns, Carbery PRO,
when speaking to Pitchside Media
thanked all those involved
“there was huge work went on behind
the scenes and it’s very important to West Cork and Carbery GAA that these clubs/individuals etc. are rewarded for their outstanding achievements. Hopefully these awards will go from strength to strength”.
Newcestown Camogie club, October award winners for their intermediate league and county title double, travelled in force to collect their award. Speaking to Pitchside Media multi-talented midfielder and club chairperson (2nd year in the role) Evelyn Crowley paid tribute to an amazing panel of ladies who gave huge commitment throughout the year. “Winning the league and county titles was a dream come true. Every member of the panel put a huge effort in all year and it was brilliant to reap the rewards at the end. We couldn’t have done it without our fantastic and dedicated management team of Lisa O’Sullivan, Finbarr O’Callaghan, Conor Condon, Sean Twomey and John Cronin and we are so lucky to have them with us again for the coming year. The underage is working very hard and there are great numbers in the club so this can only bode well for the future”. They were well represented on the night by Evelyn, her sister Alison Crowley, Suzanne Deasy and Lisa O’Sullivan, all of whom ensured the dancing carried on long into the night. Musical chairs was never so much fun.
Below is the list of the monthly award winners honoured on the night.
March: The Carbery Scor Committee. Four Clubs competed in the All Ireland Scor na nOg Finals 2017 in The Waterfront Theatre in Belfast.
April: Michael Collins (Clonakilty) for his contribution to Inter - County Refereeing.
May: Michael Cahalane (Bandon) & Luke Meade (Newcestown) for their contribution to Cork Senior Hurling in their win over Tipperary.
June: Argideen Rangers Cork County Junior B Football Champions 2017.
July: Skibbereen C.S. Munster Colleges Champions winners of Cork County & Munster U16 1/2 Football.
August: Ciarán Nyhan (Ballinascarty) & Ronan Mc Carthy (St.Oliver Plunketts) who were members of the All Ireland winning Cork u17 Hurling Team 2017.
September: Orla Cronin (Enniskeane) & Libby Coppinger (St.Colums) members of the All Ireland winning Cork Camogie Team 2017.
October: Newcestown Camogie - Intermediate Camogie league & county champions 2017.
November: Kilmacabea - Carbery Junior A Football Champions 2017 for the first time in their history.
December: Alan O Connor (St.Colums) for his outstanding contribution to Cork Senior Football & Emma Spillane (Bantry Blues) Cork Ladies Footballer and All Star 2017.
A presentation of medals was also made to all the Carbery Referees who officiated championship Finals during the year.
When Sport Is No Longer Sport?February 2018
If you look up the definition of sport it reads, depending on your source, somewhere along the lines of “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment”. The key word here is entertainment. This struck me lately, as I cast my mind back a few months, what if some of the sports we love are no longer sport or are losing that ethos? This might sound like a foolish statement to make. However if you sit back and assess the current condition of the beautiful games of the GAA that consume our parishes and communities week in week out is there is an underlying issue?
Towards the latter end of last year I attended an u12 football match between two very well-known west Cork clubs. It was the semi-final of the championship and progressing to the final was the goal for all involved. What ensued was a thrilling and enthralling end to end battle that had the team
selectors, parents and supporters gripped right up
to the final whistle.
When that whistle went there were scenes of
jubilation on one side and utter devastation on the
other. When things calmed down and both sets of
players lined up to shake hands in the middle of the
pitch the beauty of sport was plain for all to see.
Spend an hour battling as enemies but then having
the respect at the end to congratulate or
commiserate with your opponent. This is what
makes sport so special.
However when this was finished the cause for my
recent concern was evident. Three parents of boys
on the panel of the winning team weren’t very
happy and they made their feelings known to the
team manager and selectors – “these boys will never play for this club again” was one of the final parting shots fired across the bows of the team trainers. Why you might ask given that their team had progressed to the final? Well their boys, who had attended training all year, were yet again left sitting on the bench while some of the better players, less frequently at training, were left out there to try and win the game. Did the parents mean it? I genuinely hope not. Did the selectors care? I don’t think so because in their eyes winning was the priority. The priority in all of this, the kids, were devastated.
Now I fully appreciate that winning is part and parcel of why we all play or played sport. But do we not owe it to our organisation, and more importantly the kids that help make up this wonderful organisation, to see the bigger picture (within reason)? At what age group does it become acceptable to ignore young boys and girls for the greater cause of winning? This sort of incident isn’t unique to GAA and is a common theme throughout all sports.
We, as parents, are constantly encouraging our kids to play sport, enjoy the friendships it creates and to be active in life. Clubs are currently struggling for numbers at various age groups from underage right up to adult level. Now I’m not saying the primary reason for this is not playing everyone but surely giving all involved game time can only benefit teams and clubs in the long run. Ensuring kids are enjoying the sport, making friends and staying active can surely only be a good thing. Perhaps it is time that sport became a sport again?
The GAA is an organisation that is loved the length and breadth of the country. It is up to us all as members to ensure that remains the way. Because without clubs there will be no county.
Photo Credit: Camogie Association Of Ireland
Barrett Tasked With Transforming Dohenys Fortunes.
Former Donoughmore ladies senior football trainer Mossie Barrett has been handed the unenviable task of transforming the fortunes of the Doheny senior footballers for 2018. He takes over from Tim Buckley and his team who have stepped down following last years campaign. Barretts back room team will also consist of former player Denis Healy who recently retired from a long career of hurling and football with the club. They will be assisted by another ex player Brian Herlihy. Brian, who recently had a spell as Cork minor manager, was also part of John Clearys back room team for a number of years with the Cork U21’s. As a result he will bring some added knowledge and experience to the fold.
Dohenys, who lost last years relegation final play off to St. Nicks, will be under pressure knowing that a similar run of results would see them relegated to the premier intermediate grade for 2019. The team, which consists of a lot of younger players with some experienced campaigners, will look to lasts years successful West Cork winning U21 team members to back bone their championship campaign. They will be supplemented by the players from the West Cork and county league and championship winning Sam Maguires minor team. It’s fair to say it is going to be a tough year ahead for Mossie & his team especially considering they have been drawn to face near neighbours and West Cork rivals Castlehaven in the first round. In saying that they have never lost a championship game to the same opposition........no pressure Mossie.