In early October 2012, Ronan McGuckin stood on the platform outside Gormley’s Bar in Ballygawley, looking out at a sea of happy Errigal Ciaran faces.
e would have recognized quite a few of them. He would have gone to fight some of them on the field when he was working as an enforcer for Ballinderry Shamrocks at centre-back.
But today was Errigal’s day. He had just won the county title with a win over Dromore. He told how he heard about their celebration at ‘Gormley’s Corner’ and came here to experience it.
Just before he spoke, the club’s then-president, Cathar McEnenry, revealed how the club brought in someone like McGuckin to help, and how it paid off. At that moment, McGuckin was loved as much as Errigal Ciaran’s man.
Only he was not the man of Errigal Kiran.
Two weeks later Errigal entered the qualifying round of the Ulster Club Championship, where they faced Cavan’s Mullahoran. They won him 4-15 to 1-7.
At the final whistle, McGuckin left Sharp on the sidelines to listen to the final stages of the Derry final. Ballinderley’s delight, of course, may have been the ensuing dread of what it meant, but Ballinderley resisted the slaughter knee.
Errigal had to face Ballinderry in the quarter-finals. That put him up against several men who joined the All-Ireland club with him in 2002, including Conleth Gilligan, Mickey Conlon and Enda Muldoon.
Speaking on the sideline at Brefni Park, McGuckin’s assistant coach Tommy McDermott said:
“I have no doubt that he will approach this match in the same professional manner as he would any other, focused on getting our performance right and focused on the challenge.”
McDermott was wrong. Later, in the locker room, McGuckin informs everyone that he will be taking temporary leave. In his place McDermott stepped up with Brian ‘Ernie’ McEnery.
Late in the match, Tommy Canavan started a free-to-win-to-tight game in the closing stages, and McGuckin was photographed in the stands wearing a rain jacket with a hood cinched around his face.
The following Tuesday he returned to Errigal’s training ground but lost to Crossmaglen in the semi-finals.
For McGuckin, the Ballinderry was the club he and his family were obsessed with.
Such a scenario is not uncommon to occur and it will happen again with Ballybay co-manager Jerome Johnston stepping down this weekend rather than face his own Kilcoo club in the Ulster quarter-finals. I guess.
Clare’s new football coach, Mark Dolan, takes command alone without Johnston’s input.
In 2019, John McEntee found himself in a similar situation when he was pitting Monaghan champions Clontiblet against Crosmaglen, who had an outstanding record as a player-manager.
He chose to remain on the sidelines, put on a woolen armor hat, and then disappeared down a tunnel.
“I knew it would always be difficult. Glenn) I know it’s been a while since I controlled them, but my blood is black and amber as well.
“I knew what I had to do. I knew the position I was in, but it’s not easy. I think you justify the fact that
His own celebrations would be muted, he said.
“I’m going home now, taking a couple of paracetamols and having a packet of tea and biscuits,” he quipped.
What it shows is a measure of how small club football and hurling really are.
There are countless examples of family conflicts.
In 1985, Pierce Ogg qualified for the Armagh County Finals against City of Armagh rivals, the Armagh Harps. Paul Grimley played in midfield and was man of the match against brothers Mark and John in a 0-7 to 0-3 win.
Frank McGuigan, who was playing for Ardbow, was regularly on the opposite team and was marked by his brother, who was playing for parish rivals Moortown.
In 2015, the Kilkenny Hurling Final between O’Loughlin Gales and Clara had a delicious subplot when brothers Brian (O’Loughlin Gales) and Keith Hogan (Clara) found themselves marking each other.
The Hogan family had moved to Clara from the city of Kilkenny many years ago. Brian was already in office, like O’Loughlin Gales, but young Keith hung out with the friends he’d made in Clara.
In 2019, there was a neat thread when Monaghan met Cavan at the Ulster Championships. Vinnie Corley was coming to the end of his playing career, but he was an icon for Oriel County.
The match between the two always had an old-world charm as the early pioneers of Ulster county football. But it added some spice to the mix, with Corey’s brother Martin being a key component of his Cavan management team.
The two brothers lived just a few doors away from each other. Vinnie joked about peering into the corner to count how many nights Martin’s car disappeared from the driveway.
Given all these precedents, some feel it would be wrong for Jerome Johnston to step away from his role in Ballybay.
But Jerome Jr. has three sons, Sheeran and Ryan, six nephews with Sheeram Dougherty, and Aidan, Aaron, Daryl, Eugene and Niall Branagan are all in attendance this weekend. ing.
Few laid the foundations on which the fine culture of Kilcoo now flourishes more than Johnston.
In an era of transition from rural clubs to urban super clubs and devouring major accolades, what Kilcoo has achieved is truly amazing.
Jerome Johnston has spent most of his time creating and shaping it.
Loyalty may be an outdated concept now. But you should still admire it when you see it.