Cómhra an Chlub
In Conversation With:
Out of Town with Liam Duggan
Hello and welcome to the 4th issue of Portlaoise GAA Club’s new newsletter, Town Tattler. It’s hard to believe we are on our fourth newsletter already. We started this newsletter to keep engagement in the club high at a time when we couldn’t meet and train, well there is now a light at the end of the tunnel. From next Monday, our juvenile club members will start the ‘Return to Rathleague’. In this issue we hear from some of them about what they’re most excited about in returning to play. We also hear from Laois GAA Chairperson, Peter O’Neill as he enters his final year of his tenure. Our Out of Town series is in Meath this week with Liam Duggan and club legend John Mulligan gives us an insight into his time with Portlaoise. None of this would be possible without the continued support of the whole club and the the active communications team behind this publication. I hope you enjoy this edition,
One of the most positive things that has been happening within the club during lockdown is the Online Bingo. This week there were over 510 families tuning in by Zoom (many more on Facebook Live) to see our very own DJ Broch present this most entertaining weekly event.
It’s been brilliant. Players from all over Laois, and little pockets of players springing up throughout the country also – absolutely phenomenal response.
Great credit is due to an extremely hard working committee who have driven this, week on week, on behalf of the club. This group includes Bosco Ramsbottom, John Dunne, Mick Ryan, Shane Keane, Philip Scully, PJ Kavanagh and last but not least the star of the show itself, Mr Brochan O’Reilly.
One nice little story – an elderly lady who started playing recently approached Bosco in his shop in Grattan Street. She thanked him for getting her to play the bingo. She said it was the best thing that has happened to her during lockdown and she now has something to look forward to every week.
Besides the entertainment this event is proving to be a successful fundraiser for the club – all funds raised will go directly to the development of facilities in Rathleague.
Cannot finish without giving a little mention to Mick Lillis – Mick’s brother is involved in a similar event with his club in Wexford and Mick contacted the club to say that this might be something to consider. Thanks to everyone who has played and continues to play, thanks to all of our sponsors for their generous donations and prizes – and again thanks to the group mentioned above for working so hard to make this a success.
Cómhrá an Chlub
Seanfhocail na Míosa: “Is fearr Gaeilge bhriste ná Béarla cliste”
Clár Ní Dhuinn
Scoileanna ina d’fhreastail tú:
Scoil Mhuire agus Scoil Críost Rí
Peil, cispheil, cócaireacht, ag bualadh le cairdre agus clann (Tá súil agam go mbeidh mé ábalta é seo a dhéanamh go luath!)
An Clár Netflix is fearr leat:
Banna Ceoil is fearr leat:
Diarmuid Ó Cinnéide
An áit is fearr le dul ar laethanta saoire?
Aon áit grianmhar, té agus tirim!
Cén áit ar an bpáirc is fearr leat?
Aon áit ins na cúlaithe
Cé hí/hé do laoch spóirt?
Cáit Ní Táilliúir
An t-imreoir is fearr leat:
Bríd Ní Chorca
Comhairle d’imreoirí óga:
Déan do dhícheall í gconaí, bígí ag traenáil go dian rialta mar “tús maith leath na hoibre”
In Conversation With:
Who would have thought a young boy from Killenard who kicked with Port and O Dempsey and who’s background was mainly soccer, would become a legend of Portlaoise GAA. That’s what he is. The patriarch of a great Town family from Craydon Court, meet John Mulligan..
Tell us about the early days...
I am originally from Ballycarroll, Killenard and when I was 10 year old we moved to Portarlington. I played U-12 football with O’Dempseys and when we moved to Portarlington, I played U-12 for Portarlington. We won the county championship in 1966, beating Portlaoise in the final after a replay. Two standout players for Portlaoise that I can remember from those games are Billy Bland and Tom Prendergast.
In 1966 England won the World Cup and suddenly soccer became very popular. Down our end of the town we all started playing soccer and we used to train in the Mill Field, which was the GAA Grounds. As the ‘ban’ was still in operation we were soon banned from playing soccer on the pitch. As a result we all stopped playing GAA and we formed Arlington Soccer Club in 1967. Our next issue was where could we train? So a woman by the name of Molly Coogan, allowed us to use her garden on Sundays to train on and we paid her a small fee out of our pocket money for this. Although we were only school kids, we ran a hop (disco) which was a huge success to raise money and two of the older players (16 and 17 years) got a lift in an Odlums lorry to Dublin and they went to Elverys and bought our first set of jerseys, togs and stockings. At that time Emo House was owned by the Jesuit Order and we used to cycle out there to play the Jesuit novices in challenge matches.
We went from strength to strength and soon managed to get the use of a field from a sympathetic farmer and we registered the Club in the Leinster Junior League and we had two teams playing in Division 1 and 2 of the Counties league. Around 1970 the Club purchased a field which is the present grounds used by the Club, Castle Park, Lea Road, Portarlington. The nearest we ever got to winning anything was getting to the FAI Junior Cup Final in 1972. I played soccer with Arlington up to 1979 and played Junior and Senior Football with Portarlington for 2 years.
Now living in Portlaoise I joined Portlaoise Soccer Club in 1980 and we had a major win in 1981 when we won the Whitley Cup. I finished playing soccer due to injuries around 1987. I then coached the juvenile soccer team for a few years. This team included Kevin Fitzpatrick, Colm Parkinson, Owen Delaney, Niall Collins, Declan Daly, Fearghal Fennell and Thomas Mulligan who went on to play with Portlaoise GAA Club and Laois.
How did you get involved with Portlaoise GAA?
I got involved in the Juvenile Club in 1990. My own four lads were starting to get an interest in sport and they loved Football and Hurling and had little interest in soccer. I went to the Juvenile AGM and I was apprehensive about going as I knew nobody and I was coming from a soccer background. However, I was made feel very welcome that night by Ned Murphy R.I.P. and Michael Reynolds.
How did you find getting stuck in with the club?
My first night at the Juvenile AGM, I met Ollie Hughes (Mayo) and Joe Daly (Cork) for the first time. We got the job of looking after the U-12 B football team and we got to the semi-final that year. The following year we were with the U-12 A football team and we got to the final but lost it. That was the only time we lost a final. The following years we were with U-14, U-16, and Minor and U-21 teams and never lost a championship game.
To this day I am still great friends with Ollie and Joe. There are so many great memories from those days that it’s hard to pick out any individual ones, but the joys of winning and seeing what it meant to players is something very special. We were blessed with the quality and commitment of the players we had from U-12 to U-21. Some of these players included; Aidan Fennelly, Colm Byrne, Brian Mc Cormack, Michael Nolan, Brian Fitzpatrick and Joe Phelan to name but a few.
Management was something that developed in me when I had to give up playing soccer, it was the next best thing to playing.
How did your move to Laois GAA come about?
I attended a GAA coaching course in Tullamore in 1999 and I met Sean Dempsey there. He asked me if I would get involved with him in coaching a Laois U-14 football squad for a Leinster championship and Laois were in Division 1.
I got involved and we got to the Leinster final only to be beaten by Dublin. The following year, Sean went with the U-15 team and I took over the U-14 team. I had a great management team with me, namely Pat Gorman (Emo), Noel Fleming (Graiguecullen) and Sammy Byrne R.I.P. (Stradbally). We went on to win Leinster A Championships at U-14, U-15 and U-16.
In 2003, we teamed back up with Sean Dempsey as Manager and we won the Minor All-Ireland. In 2004, we won a Minor Leinster title and lost the All-Ireland semi-final to Kerry under controversial circumstances.
In 2005, we got involved with Laois U-21 footballers but lost to Kildare in the championship. In 2006, we won a Leinster U-21 championship and lost the All-Ireland semi final after a replay to Cork. In 2007, we won another Leinster U-21 championship and got to the All-Ireland final only to lose again to Cork in the final minutes of the game.
In 2005, 2006 and 2007 I was involved with Leinster Railway Cup football teams as a statistician. The teams were managed by Val Andrews and the selectors were Paul Caffrey and Sean Dempsey. Leinster won the Railway Cup in 2005, 2006 in Boston and lost in 2007 to Munster. For me this was a great experience to be in the company of the best footballers in Leinster and also have the experience of being with a really top quality management team. Also, in 2006 when Liam Kerins was manager of Laois Senior footballers I did stats for him for a season.
In 2011, Justin McNulty who was the Laois Senior football manager asked me to be a selector with the team. I was a selector until 2013 when Justin McNulty stepped down as Manager. Again, this was a great experience to be with your own county at senior level playing in Division 1 and Division 2 of the National league.
How was it taking over as Portlaoise Senior Football Manager?
Taking over Portlaoise Senior Footballers was a challenging task, as there is always a huge expectancy of success and rightly so. I was very lucky with the management team that I got with me and the panel of players available at the time.
I had Allan Daly as a selector who was young, with fresh ideas and the same age as a lot of the players, so he knew them better than most as he grew up with them and would have been on that football panel as a player if injury had not cut short his career. Brian Delaney and Martin Parkinson who brought a wealth of experience and knowledge with them and had been with numerous Club teams who had won championships. Not to forget they managed a U-14 Feile team that won an All-Ireland title in 1993 and who were Laois Minor selectors in 1996 and 1997 when the Laois Minors won two All-Irelands. Pat Ryan who was also a selector and trainer. Pat, had already achieved tremendous success with Ballyroan Senior footballers as a Manager and Trainer and had a reputation as a top class boxing trainer throughout Ireland.
The panel of players available for those years 2008 to 2010 was extremely talented. Although Colm Parkinson and Zach Tuohy transferred and Peter McNulty R.I.P. passed away we still had a really good panel of players. Starting out we knew that if we did not win at least a County Championship we would be regarded as failures but we knew that we were capable of going further than that.
Tell us about winning and losing
We won 3 county championships, 2 league titles and a Leinster final, which was great and we had some great games and victories in doing so. But our aim was to win an All-Ireland Club title as the panel was good enough to do that we felt. From my perspective, what we won was grand but failing to win an All-Ireland title still leaves me disappointed. Winning any match is a highlight for me. Losing any match is a low point for me.
The next generation Mulligans
Luckily, I had four lads who played football and hurling from a young age with the club. They were very fortunate to be on some really good football and hurling panels and enjoyed a lot of success. There really are some tremendous memories. Apart from winning county championships, being part of U-14 Hurling and Football Feile teams that got to All-Ireland semi finals, winning All-Ireland Feile titles in Hurling and Football, winning an All-Ireland U-16 Hurling tournament in Carlow, winning a All-Ireland Colleges Senior Hurling in 1998, winning All-Ireland minor football finals in 1996 and 1997. Getting to a Leinster Senior Hurling final in 1998 and winning Leinster Football titles in 2004 and 2008 and getting to an All-Ireland Club final in 2005.
Who were the best players you've watched?
It’s hard to single out best players I have seen, because there are so many that you could mention, so I will just stick to Laois. Again, there have been some really top quality players in Laois in every decade, but if I had to pick two players from the 80’s in hurling and football, it would be Tom Prendergast and John Taylor.
What makes a good manager?
For me what makes a good manager is someone who is well organised, genuine, can converse with players and selectors and be able to listen to others.
How did Junior C Hurling draw you back in?
Getting involved with the Junior C Hurlers in 2018 was something that happened unexpectedly. I was speaking to Eugene Deegan and James Brown one night in Peigs after a County Final and they asked me if I would get involved with the Junior C Hurlers. At first I thought they were just joking as I had never been involved with a hurling team before. I thought about it, and decided why not try and give it a go. I asked Seamus Fitzgerald if he would be interested in getting involved and he said he would. Seamus has a great knowledge of hurling and of assessing players.
I have to say prior to this Jason Lalor and Eugene Deegan had been managing the Junior C hurlers and they had been doing a great job in keeping players interested and getting matches. I met with Jason, Eugene and Seamus and we decided that we were going to do things differently as regards training and matches. We had our first training session on the 13th of January 2018 down at the Leisure Centre and every player paid €5 per session for the use of the facility.
The skill levels were not great at the start but by March when we went out to Rathleague, the skill levels had improved greatly and lads were fitter. The League started and we adopted a policy of going for a social drink after every game. This worked brilliantly for camaraderie and team spirit. As you can use any number of substitutes in Junior C, we adopted a policy to play as many players as possible in every game and we ended up with a panel of 29 players.
We got to the League final but lost out narrowly to the Harps in the final. For the championship then, we trained hard and had great commitment from the players. We got to championship final and beat Ballyfin in the final on the 29th of August 2018. Between training sessions and matches the players had put in a total of 58 sessions, not bad commitment for ‘Junior C players’. We also had a great Captain for that campaign and that man was Denis Kavanagh. It was a great victory for all the Lads and a trophy that the Club had never won before. The final was unique because we used 14 substitutes that evening, in total 29 players played in the final and we still won it.
(It might make a good sports quiz question in years to come – name the team that won a county final playing 29 players and legally used 14 substitutes in the same game?)
You’ve gone through a tough time health-wise - how hard has this been?
Yes, I was unfortunate with a few health issues-but thankfully doing well now. I greatly appreciated the support and reassurance that I got from past and present players and friends from Club and County. I am in good form presently and looking forward to getting out to see a live hurling or football match again. My involvement with the Club at the present time is ‘Playing Bingo on Friday Nights’ at the kitchen table – always looking for a Win!
What does Portlaoise GAA mean to you?
The Club is like a very large extended family, when you go out to Rathleague to a match you meet Club members, spectators, players or mentors and you always get a friendly greeting and you can have a chat or a few words with somebody and it’s always nice. Not to forget the grounds men out there as they always look after me and I am very grateful that they were there on the 13th of July 2020 when I needed them.
What are your hopes for the future of the club?
I think the future of the Club looks really bright and promising. There is so much going as regards the development of facilities that it is very exciting times. On the playing side some teams are going through a transition period at the moment and they will be back as a major force in Laois and Leinster. It’s great to see the Ladies side of the Club making the breakthrough in the senior football and the Camogie is soon going to be a major force in the county. With the effort being made at Juvenile level they will be back winning titles soon, so I think the future looks really bright.
A word from Peter O'Neill
Portlaoise clubman Peter O Neill is in his final year as Chairperson of Laois GAA. We caught up with him to see how things were going..
Peter how busy is life for you these days?
Life is very busy now, while we are not active on the G.A.A. fields there is plenty of admin and organising to be done. Work wise Crown Paints is flat out just having secured the paint supply contract for The National Children’s Hospital and opening 3 new shops. Laois Partnership Company has just ended a 5-year programme distributing almost €7million and we are currently putting together a plan for a 2023 new start up.
How hard is it to juggle running your own business and being chairperson of Laois G.A.A.
I am thankful to say that Crown Paints are very supportive of my role in the G.A.A and Community work and have made it possible to combine both. My youngest son Gary manages the paint shop in Portlaoise and covers me well. Without their support it would not be possible.
What motivates you to take on all the extra work that comes with such a role?
For me it is a sense of personal achievement to see the G.A.A in Laois grow and to see our facilities up there with the best in the Country. Most importantly it is to recognise the effort and enjoyment our players put in win or lose, but of course winning is all the sweeter.
How has lockdown been for you personally, from business point of view, and in relation to GAA?
Business wise Crown has been very busy as we supply the health, education and social sectors. We have also been very well supported by the Sporting community. In relation to the G.A.A we have been as busy as ever with all our club registration, administration and coaching matters being dealt with online. Our Health and Wellbeing, Coaching and Development teams have put on some fantastic online seminars.
Is there light at the end of the tunnel do you feel?
100 per cent there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The G.A.A have played a major role in assisting our communities during this pandemic and I look forward to seeing our players young and old back out on pitches across the County. In the meantime, if a limited number of supporters are allowed, we will be televising all our game on Laois T.V
What is the most enjoyable aspect of your role?
Having the opportunity to meet Gaels from all over the Country and to see the work that all our committees and players do on a Voluntary basis. Attending as many games as possible and of course Presenting cups to Portlaoise winning captains must be high up there.
What is the most challenging part of the job?
Everyone has an opinion in the G.A.A and they all think they are right even more so when they are wrong. It is lovely to present the winning Cups, but you also must be the one to enforce the rules in relation to discipline and transfers and some decisions don’t always go down well.
Whats next for you when your term expires?
I am planning on continuing to travel to all the County games. J.P Cahillane and Seamie Fitzgerald have been great travelling companions with me to all Laois Games either Hurling or Football over the years and I hope we continue that journey. I will also get a chance to see more Portlaoise G.A.A, Ladies and Camogie games.
Tell us about your childhood and how sport became a big thing for you.
I am very lucky to come from a very sporting family with two brothers and a sister… all younger. My father was a very accomplished rugby player and lined out with Midlands and Irish Wolfhound selections. He was asked to go to Dublin and play with Senior clubs but was a home bird.
My mother’s family were staunch Gaels with 5 of my uncles wearing the County Colours in either Football or Hurling which caused some problems during The Ban period. My family were always encouraged to play sport and we all played Gaelic Hurling and Football during the Summer and rugby during the Winter.
Who were your early influences or heroes?
My mother and her family were my biggest influence in G.A.A. My father unfortunately passed away very young. My Grandfather Leesha Mc Glynn was the first Offaly player to wear the County jersey in all grades and both codes. He lined out at midfield for Offaly V Laois in a Leinster semi-final and his opposite number was the “Boy Wonder” Tommy Murphy. The match went to a replay which Laois won.
A great footballer and hurler friend Sean Hooper Farrell who sadly passed away during Covid was always there for advice.
When did you first get involved in Portlaoise and how did that happen?
I got involved when I brought my son Daniel up to Fr Browne Avenue at 6 years of age and I was warmly welcomed and asked to help. I continued with that team which was very successful for a further 14 years. The team contained current senior players Paul Cahillane, Conor Boyle, Colin Finn, Brian Smith, Brian Glynn, Zach Touhy and of course current Laois captain Kieran Lillis. I worked with fantastic people such as Paul Campion, JP Cahillane, Mick Lillis, Mick Mulhall, Colm Browne and Seamie Lawlor.
You served many roles with club – which gave you most satisfaction?
I served as Secretary for over 8 years alongside Jaz, John Hanniffy and Vinny Dowling – this was throughout a very difficult club period off the field.
The officers were excellent and couldn’t have done more but the players contribution on the field kept us all going. My time as Juvenile secretary was very rewarding. The most enjoyable was managing our Junior C Footballers to 3 County finals and winning 2. The craic was mighty with some brilliant lads. We even had Brochan, Tom Conroy, Peter O Sullivan, David Graham, Shane O Neill and super-sub big Chris Ward.
Is there a balance to be a Portlaoise club member and chairperson of county board – are there times when conflict arises?
There must be a balance and you must consider what is always best for the County. I am a passionate Portlaoise Club man and I have never let that interfere with any decisions. In fairness the club never once put me in any difficulty. We have a policy at County level that any decision involving your own club you excuse yourself from the meeting
What was your primary aim when assuming chairperson of Laois GAA?
I had been County Juvenile Chairperson and had done a reasonable job. Some clubs asked me to put my name forward. I was still Secretary of Portlaoise but felt I could offer something to the County. I spoke to Club Chairman Vinny Dowling and Treasurer John Hanniffy as well as Clubman Jaz Reilly and all three encouraged me to stand as it could bring a bit of the way we did things to a County set up. Also, the fact that there had been no Portlaoise involvement on the County board since Bill Phelan.
What work are you proudest of or most satisfied with?
Over the past three years we have had some great success both on and off the pitch. Our Seniors have gone from Div 4 to Div 2. Our Sen Hurlers have retained Div. 1 status and have given good performances and with cheddar there now I have no doubt will take another step. Our U20 footballers have contested two finals against strong Dublin teams. Our u20 Hurlers under Enda Lyons are on the right journey. Our minor footballers and hurlers have a clear pathway with good coaches.
Off the field I am proud that we have completed the Centre of Excellence while maintaining a very high standard. Only recently we completed the LED flood lighting of MW O’Moore Park and initiated a Green Stadium policy. Our coaching structures and standards are among the highest in the country so one must be proud of great teamwork.
Any regrets as you enter the final year of your tenure?
The only regret I have is that we haven’t been able to do more for supporters with disabilities in MW Hire O Moore Park. We have created comfortable parking bays, but I would have liked to have put in a covered area for wheelchair user. On the positive side I am not finished yet so maybe.
How important is it for Laois that Portlaoise is thriving as a club?
It is vital that Portlaoise is thriving and contest Championships both in the county and Leinster at all grades. It was most heartening for me to see the amount of club players that committed to the county cause in both Hurling and Football. I would also thank all the people who put themselves forward to act as selectors, Managers or Sub-committee members. A club of Portlaoise’s stature has to help drive on together with the County.
As an Edenderry man most people would assume football was your first love, but that’s not necessarily true?
My two brothers won Senior Club Championships and lined out for the County. My youngest Brother Donal played minor, U21 and Senior for club and county in the one year. He played a minor club final won the game and stayed on the pitch to line out and win a Senior title. My other brother Eddie was a traditional full-back/centre-back that even I wouldn’t play on. I wasn’t blessed with the skills of the big ball, I was more committed to Hurling. I played and managed our adult Hurlers all my playing days. Edenderry was founded as a Hurling club and were Senior Hurlers before Senior Football. I can claim that my First and last games started and finished in Laois playing u12 hurling with De La Salle College in Castletown and finishing lining out in Fr Browne Ave as one of two speedy corner forwards…the other being Hanno 40 years later. I still have the pain in my elbow where former Graigue Chairman Mayor Mick Lawlor laced me. I am still puzzled as to how Damian Lynch dropped both corner forwards for the next round.
Who are the best players you have seen in your lifetime in both codes?
You could pick two Portlaoise teams over the years that would grace any All-Star team so I am going outside the club. The best County footballer I have seen is Matt Connor. The best County Hurler D.J. Carey. Mick Mulhall is a living legend having played in 7 Leinster finals if I am not mistaken. He still holds the record for most appearances and is up there with the best.
Can smaller counties like Laois aspire to dine at the top table?
We can only try to be as good as we can be and hope that will be enough. There is a vast gap between the top 4 and the rest in both codes. We have put the structures in place, Players give tremendous commitment but whether this can all remain financially viable is hard to see.
Will the GPO initiative make a difference do you feel?
This is the way forward for clubs. There is a financial commitment which must be found but in my opinion worth every penny. Having seen dramatic increases in numbers and standards of coaching in clubs where this is currently working it should be tried by clubs who need that bit extra.
What do you do to stay positive and healthy?
I have two sons qualified in Psychology and their college fees were worth every penny when it comes to dealing with the G.A.A (only joking of course). Stay busy, treat everyone the same and fairly, remember we are only here for a short time and a morning walk in Forrest doesn’t do any harm.
Out of Town with Liam Duggan
This month we catch up with Liam Duggan, a Portlaoise man through and through. He won 6 senior football championships with the town and was captain of the successful 1991 team. He also won Leinster Championships in 1985 and 1987. Shortly after he transferred to Dunboyne he played an integral role in helping his new club to win their first ever Meath senior title in 1998. Liam sat down with the Tattler and shared some memories.
What are your earliest memories of GAA?
It all kicked off really in the schools back then. They were a great link to the Club. The John Cole Street Leagues pulled kids out of every corner of the town and when you think about it what a way to create participation and develop talent.
Who were your early influences?
Mum & Dad were (still are) great supporters of all things GAA. Can’t think of many matches they missed and as we were all involved to a large extent, they were on the road the whole time. Our very early memories of GAA were with Dad in particular. We never missed an All-Ireland from about 1975 onwards.
Bill Phelan (RIP), Peter Carroll and Ollie Byrne were my mentors when I was growing up ensuring that both football and hurling thrived. Great coaches and great people. One of my earliest memories is Bill, Ollie and Peter managing the club to a Division 2 Hurling Feile final victory in 1980 in Galway. That same team won the minor and football championship double in 1984. Brother Guing was also a great influence around that time and was a strong link between School and Club.
Who were your heroes growing up?
One of my earliest memories is Portlaoise defeating a star studded Vincent’s in the Leinster club championship in 1976. There were Portlaoise heroes all over the pitch on that Team, a mixture as I remember of very experienced guys like Mick Mulhall, Sean Mullins(RIP), Mick Dooley, John Joe Ging, Atch, Jimmy Bergin, the Scullys with a lot of young lads coming through such as Colm Browne, Bernie Conroy and Tom Prendergast. Of course we were all in Cloughjordan for the All-Ireland victory against Clan na Gael in 1983. Magic moments for the Town with special players all over the park.
You won 6 county senior titles – which stands out and why?
1984 was memorable in that it was my first and it came after a draw with a great Ballyroan team. We had some very close battles with the same Ballyroan team around that time. The win against an excellent up and coming Portarlington team in 1991 was also very memorable. On a blustery day with scores very hard to come by, it was a bit of a rear-guard action with the game finishing 7 points to 5. I had the honour of being captain on the day. That game was memorable also for the fact that we were plugging so many holes at the back, particularly in the full back line where we always felt the younger brother – playing as a very loose marking full-back – got a handy one that year.
What are your best memories of Leinster campaigns?
The victories of course against Parnells of Dublin after a replay and Baltinglass of Wicklow were two stand-out memories for me. Not so nice was a one point defeat to Ferbane in another Leinster final in Tullamore. Two other memories during those years were of playing some earlier rounds. Against a Joe Cassells, David Beggy led Navan O’Mahony’s we came from 7 or 8 points down at half-time to win by two with a punched goal in the last minute by Georgie Phelan. Another memorable teamtalk (dressing-down) by Colm Browne, Player Manager at half-time encouraged an improved performance in the second half!!! The hairdryer was invented long before Alex Ferguson came along! We faced a Mick Lyons led Summerhill of Meath in 1986 I think. We drew the first game in Summerhill with a last-minute distance free from James (Skinny) Fahey securing the draw. We beat them comfortably in the replay on the bigger O’Moore Park pitch. I found out years later from Mattie Kerrigan that owing to concerns about Summerhill’s fitness levels – they had exited their own championship early (and were nominated to represent Meath) – they had shortened and narrowed the pitch by 5 yards to try and contain us. It nearly worked for them, but that Team always found a way to get over the line.
Best Portlaoise players you played with and why?
It’s very tough to single out players from my time playing with Portlaoise. I played most of my ball in the half back line so to get to play alongside Colm Browne, Mick Lillis and John Taylor was an education. The more seasoned(older) lads around that time Mick Mulhall, Mick Dooley always made sure the young lads were looked after. And the forward line with Noel & Tom Prendergast, Liam Scully, Atch(he asked me to plug him) and Pat Critchley were unplayable on their day.
Trust me they are all tough when you are bang average! Memorable match ups at local club level were with Liam Irwin from Ballyroan and Hughie Emerson of Portarlington. In a couple of All-Ireland semis, had a good run-out against Paddy O’Rourke of The Burren(Down), who were an exceptional outfit in the late 80’s. I also remember getting a bit of a chasing from Tony McManus of Clan na Gael (Roscommon), one of the unluckiest club teams around that time, losing a host of All Ireland Club finals.
What brought you to Dunboyne?
Dunboyne is a small village on the border of Meath and Dublin. I had been studying and working in the greater Dublin area since 1984, so it felt like a manageable commute. I also had a few friends living in that area. It was a small village then and was as good as anywhere else to pitch up to.
Was it tough leaving Portlaoise?
Of course. I played my last championship match for Portlaoise in 1993. I was 27 at the time and when I reflect on it now had a bit more to contribute…… others mightn’t agree! It’s your home Club; you are leaving the people who coached and mentored you and gave you a great start in life. You know when you are leaving it’s never going to be better anywhere else. However I had been travelling up and down for a few years at that stage and the enjoyment was going out of it a bit.
Do you keep in touch with whats going on at home?
For sure – stilled dialled in to what’s happening. What the club have achieved over the last 20 years is unbelievable. All my family are still back in the Town and I am up and down quite regularly.
What’s life in Meath like these days?
Dunboyne is a great sporty town. GAA I would say is No. 1 but there are strong traditions around Athletics, soccer and cycling. St Peter’s is very much a dual GAA Club. All 4 adult Teams (Senior Hurling & Football, Ladies Football and Camogie) compete at Senior level. The ladies have been flying the flag recently winning the All-Ireland junior and Intermediate Club championships in 2015 and 2017 and winning their first Senior Meath title in 2020. I am still very much involved in GAA activity around the place. Most of my involvement is in helping out with juvenile coaching. I have been part of the Senior Management Team for the last two years. All of the family are involved in the local Club; have all played or are still playing. One of the girls currently plays with Meath ladies so we have no choice but to shout for her (quietly!)
Favourite memories of your time with the town.
It’s everyone’s dream to win a Senior Club championship and a few us young lads were lucky to arrive on the scene in the mid 80’s and play a small part in a great team. As you know Colm was player manager for most if not all of those county final victories in the 80’s early 90’s, very much a player and coach ahead of his time. Other great memories already mentioned earlier was the minor double in 1984 and the trip to Galway for the Hurling Feile in 1980.
You won a Meath Championship in 1998, what was that like?
That final against Oldcastle was a bit of a dogfight, somewhat like that day in 1991 against Portarlington.
Nothing beats winning with your own home club. However that was a first Senior title for Dunboyne and came just 2 or 3 years after they had won the Intermediate title. So huge excitement around the place that year.
Portlaoise V Dunboyne in Leinster SFC 2022 – how ya feeling Liam?
I’m feeling like there is another Leinster Club title to be won! You know if you beat Portlaoise in Leinster you are in with a great chance to win something. You know if you lose the Town is on the move again so win win.