So! 11 Foxrock Geraldine P. Moran’s men headed off on a journey over land and sea last Saturday morning to play the local GAA football team on Clare Island in the mouth of Clew Bay in the magical county of Mayo. So excited were the wide-mouthed travellers that as soon as they set eyes on the county that they insisted on stopping off in Ballaghaderreen and so Durkin’s was the scene of the staple breakfast of all finely tuned athletes – the fry-up with beans and chips.
The weather was taking a turn for the worst as we approached Roonagh Pier, a lively wind was bringing with it a light rain which along with the choppy crossing drained the colour off a few Gers faces. We gained a player on the crossing as a Roscomman man who had played county minor and was starring with Clontarf nailed his colours to our mast, our native islander Olof Gillson also let it be known that he would not see us wrong in the 11-a-side game – we would have subs!!!
“I fu**in told you Fla”
After togging out in our hostel and dandering down the hill towards the long but narrowed pitch we set about our warm-up with ease. The locals doing their pre-match routine at the far end of the pitch were soon joined by our erstwhile new signing from the ferry, we looked at each other. Next out was Olof, chasing across to join the burgeoning masses in the local jersies , we knew we were in for a battle! Keith Stephens rounded the troops and told us we were going to face fire and that we had better be prepared.
Before we knew it the Clare Islanders had 2 goals scored, the dodgy ‘keeper was badly caught out for the first as a shot for a point dipped under for the opening score. Next a daisy trimmer was being picked out of the net before a point was added that boded badly for the mainlanders. Some superb defending and covering back by Karol Guerin combined with our midfield getting on top, especially the ubiquitous John Doyle, meant that finally we were getting ball into our own forwards. Good running by Donal McEnery and John Doyle with some excellent support and passing from Padraig Flynn provided the bullets for Daniel Hussey to show-off his finishing skills amassing 3 goals before the break to leave us leading by a few points 3-2 to 2-3.
Clare island were not going to go without a fight and what a half of football lay ahead. Some superb defending by George Callery and Diarmuid Doyle in the full-back line ably assisted by Jack O’Brien and the afore-mentioned Guerin made the locals battle hard for every scoring chance. Killian McCabe as the primarily defending midfielder supported manfully but yet Clare island still managed to get ahead by 4 points with missed goal chances at the other end and the impressive home ‘keeper pulling off some quality saves.
Keith Stephens won an amount of dirty ball around the middle when the need was greatest, the referee working off the principle that his whistle didn’t work allowed for plenty of physicality and it was to the credit of all that not a single dirty blow was thrown. The winning of the game came down to Donal McEnery nutmegging the Clare Island custodian and a long distance point from John Doyle that was shortly followed by the full-time whistle much to the joy of the Gers.
Final score: Clare Island GAA 3-8 Gers 4-7
It was a most satisfactory victory that was achieved with all players playing significant roles as was necessitated by the fact we only had the 11 players. The warm down included the short trot down to the beach for a swim which featured our first post match talk in the sea bobbing about like seals. Great times!
Food was provided and gratefully consumed in the local community centre and we would like to thank our hosts for the warm welcome and friendships that were created over the weekend. Best of luck to Clare Island GAA in their quest to be 4 in-a-row All-Island champions on Arranmore Island, Co. Donegal in early September. I’m not permitted to tell here the tales of what happened after dark as we are aware that what goes on tour……
Dónall Ó Flatharta
George Callery Diarmuid Doyle
Jack McGrath Karol Guerin ©
Killian McCabe John Doyle (0-1)
Donal McEnery (1-3) Padraig Flynn (0-1)
Daniel Hussey (3-1) Keith Stephens (0-1)
Réiteoir: Seán Mulcrone (Burrishoole GAA club)