By Tom Hunt
To quote Dolores O'Riordan ... 'Everybody else is doing it, why can't we?', ... so here it is the alphabetical review of the year
A is for Alan: The county final programme noted that Alan Cashman was required to 'sacrifice some of his fine football skills for the disciplined work rate, high-intensity tackling and concentrated defending that the wing-forward position now demands'. And to prove the point Alan scored one of the great points of the county final with a glorious outside of the boot effort from the sideline and close to the end-line that sailed over the bar for Mullingar Shamrocks third point of the final. He then went on to work himself to a standstill before leaving the scene of battle when he could do no more.
B is for Bingo, Mullingar Shamrocks long standing Thursday night at The Clubhouse fundraiser and social outing for so many people. It has been in intensive care on occasions and even had a spell on life support but it has survived, sometimes against all the odds, thanks mainly to the commitment of Pat Collins and Detty and their team of helpers. Long may they run.
C is for Curley ... Micheál that is who played some of his finest football in a distinguished career in the Mullingar Shamrocks jersey as he led Mullingar Shamrocks from the centre-back position. His thundering runs up-field as he clattered and scattered opponents were inspirational and it was most appropriate that Micheál scored the final point of the county final. It came after he surged on to a breaking ball in typical fashion and powered forward to take a return pass from Patrick Fagan and scoop the ball over with the left boot.
D is for Denis ... The Man of the Match in the county final, the dominant midfielder of the championship and Mullingar Shamrocks leading championship scorer with 1-23 to his credit. Denis Corroon's goal in the final was crucial and a lesson on how to keep the cool when the pressure is greatest as he calmly sidestepped Stephen Gallagher to slot the ball to the St Loman's net. D is also for Deano who scored 0-5 in the final and 1 -20 in the championship, and Dónal who played every minute of every championship match in his nineteenth season of senior football adding a third county senior medal to an already impressive collection and Daragh whose return from injury was such an important factor in the Shamrocks success story.
E is for Eddie of the Moore clan and the captain fantastic of the senior team. Eddie is the eleventh player to captain Mullingar Shamrocks to a senior county title (all backs or midfielders ... time for a forward to step up to the plate!). Although playing at the back, Eddie led from the front and was often to be found bearing down on the opposition's goal. A superb tackle on T. J. Cox to prevent a goal scoring opportunity was one of the pivotal moments of the final. Eddie's meticulous preparation and dedication to fitness, use of strength and conditioning programmes, stretching and nutritional good practice was an example to all.
F is for Fagan and Paddy in particular who returned from a summer in New York city to add a whole new dimension to our championship play. His work rate and strong running from midfield was superb and Paddy was the most fouled player in the county final. Mullingar Shamrocks scored four points from frees from fouls on Paddy in the final and halfway through the first half when Dónal O'Donoghue began his run through the St Loman's defence that began from the right half-forward position neat the sideline, Paddy was immediately at his side and when Dónal released the ball Paddy's volley rattled Stephen Gallagher's net for the crucial first goal of the final.
G is for Gaelic4Mothers & Others, a superb and very important initiative in the club that adds to the club's inclusiveness and its social dimension. The girls lined out for their first match in Ballymore and a great Blitz was also staged in Springfield.
H is for Healthy Club and an important recognition for Mullingar Shamrocks; only 150 of the GAA’s 1600 clubs are included in the programme and our club’s inclusion recognises the work of our Healthy Club Officer, Joan Ormsby supported by Tom Hunt. The recognition brings its responsibilities and over eighteen months Shamrocks will be expected to implement the seven-point plan essential to retaining recognition as a Healthy Club. The launch in September was a spectacular success and as part of the launch Mullingar Shamrocks became a No Smoking Club.
I is income, the never ending challenge for all GAA clubs. The year was one of the best for Mullingar Shamrocks with On the Ball, Strictly Shamrocks outstanding successes but the response to the support for the club's County Final Fund was incredible and underlined the wonderful support that exists for Mullingar Shamrocks. All essential for the maintenance of our club's facilities and services and despite the financial wizardy of our treasurer Maria Carroll and the fact that all involved in the club operate on a voluntary basis, it still costs in excess of €100,000 to keep the show on the road.
J is for Jones and Anna in particular, a wonderful practitioner of the Ladies Gaelic Football art, the one with all the skills, who played magnificently for Mullingar Shamrocks and made her senior debut for Westmeath in 2018 and captained the Westmeath minor team to a Leinster title.
K is is for Kelly ... Barry that is and Mullingar Shamrocks Underage Chairman who handed in the linesman's inter-county flag at the end of the season and blew the final whistle on a superb refereeing career at the highest level that included refereeing four All-Ireland senior finals
L is for Ladies Gaelic Football, the best kept secret in Westmeath sport and a thriving part of the Mullingar Shamrocks club thanks to the hard work of the many dedicated players, officials and coaches. Our senior team had a great league campaign and were unfortunate in the championship, the DIv.4 league final victory was highlighted by a brilliant Emma Morris display, qualification for the minor county final was a highlight but overall it was a year of positives. Mullingar Shamrocks is proud of its long-term standing as a One-Club organisation.
M is for Masterson, Óisin and Róisin; Óisin led our branding campaign and was organiser-in-chief of our merchandising days and internet shopping opportunities; Róisin chaired Mullingar Shamrocks finance committee with considerable style and took the lead in organising Strictly Shamrocks with an incredible attention to detail. And when all that was done Róisin invented the Na SeamrÓigi concept, one with massive potential.
N is for Ned who never made any secret of his wish to manage the Mullingar Shamrocks senior team and of his belief in his ability to do the job. He was finally given the opportunity in 2018 and inherited a senior football panel lacking in leadership it was believed, and smothered in negativity, and sliding in the direction of intermediate football. It was that bad. Ned and his management team of Enda, Barry and Gerry with back-up from Ross and Gary restored morale, implemented a game plan that worked, used the league wisely and gradually things began to change. The buy-in wasn't immediate but a series of must-win championship matches built momentum, the transfusion of Ned's passion saw leaders emerge on every line of the team and on a famous Sunday in October Mullingar Shamrocks won what was probably the most important senior championship title of the thirteen the club has collected. It's important to move away from this unlucky number now!
O is for On the Ball, the fundraising event organised by Ritchie Daly, Bernard Flynn and Conor Moore that began the season on such a high note with the positive vibes pouring out the Greville Arms Hotel door on to the surrounding streets. It was a night when Joe Brolly and John Mullane might have stolen the show with Dessie Dolan, Bernard Flynn and Michael Duignan providing a strong supporting cast if it wasn't for the brilliance of Conor's Sketches. We learned one thing from the night: the next time John Mullane comes to the Greville Arms Hotel he is bringing his own toilet roll.
P is for Philly, the goalkeeper who took flight against The Downs to produce a few super saves and whose restarts in the county final were Cluxtonesque. Philly missed out on a senior championship medal in 2012 as he was based in Australia and the county final victory against St Loman's ended Philly's unusual, unlucky and unwanted distinction of being the highest 'capped' Shamrocks footballer over the past 35 years not to have a senior championship medal. And Conor Twomey was responsible for unearthing this stat before the county final!
Q is for Quinnie the superbly fit playmaker and score-taker who prepares meticulously for games. Simon's recovery of much of the form that made him a senior Westmeath player in the past was instrumental in Shamrocks winning the 2018 title; his second half display in the county final was immense as he roamed the field winning possession and distributing the ball wisely.
R is for relegation ... the word that dare not speak its name but unfortunately is the fate that befell our LGF senior team. No panel in the club worked harder and at the end the senior championship campaign was crunched into eleven days. And the Club Players Association think they have problems with developing a fixtures schedule that works in the male world of Gaelic football.
S is for Strictly Shamrocks ... an incredible social and financial success and a brilliant night's entertainment choreographed by Fund Raising Events to send the patrons home in a positive frame of mind about Mullingar Shamrocks. We promised more than a fundraiser and that was exactly what we delivered as Strictly Shamrocks provided a spectacular night of quality entertainment with brilliant dancing from all fourteen combinations. Thanks to the organising committee that survived intact and the dancers Jordana and Pearse; Marie and Aidan, Niamh and Padraic; Peter and Emer; Shane and Anna; Robbie and Sandra; Killian and Claire; Niamh and Ross; Kyle and Sandra; Ray and Helen; Ciara and Tom; Matthew and Jemma; Gerry and Shannon and the winners Casey and Tye who just edged out Shannon Daly and Gerry Mulligan; In addition to the dancing practice the dancers found time to organise a multiplicity of fundraising events that included afternoon teas, whiskey tasting, poker classics, table quizzes, discos, carol singing, fittest families etc. Time to start again!
T is for Tye ... the Adamson of the species who ticks all the T boxes. His two big points against Tyrrellspass were crucial in securing the county final place, there was also a big point against the same opposition in the ACL match that won the points and in between he used his footwork skills to win Strictly Shamrocks with Casey.
U is for Under-age a lot done and more to do but great progress has been made in the past few years. Eyes are now firmly back on the ball and numbers are increasing annually. Springfield is now the place to be on a Saturday morning, Na SeamrÓigi is about to take flight, over 50 fully compliant coaches are involved in spreading the skills, the schools' coaching initiative driven by Gerry and Robbie is thriving and participation for all boys and girls is now the official club policy.
V is for Visitors and we entertained callers from New York, Dubai, Melbourne, Sydney, as far away as Darwin, and from clubs all over Leinster, some from Ulster and Connacht when we staged out Under-10 Blitz, the Rob Cornally Memorial Under-11 tournament and the Seán Dempsey Memorial Under-12 tournament. We pride ourselves on the quality and quantity of the fare on we provide to our visitors and with justification we reference 'the legendary Shamrocks hospitality'.
W is for Warde ... the Jordan of the clan. His first season in senior championship football was spectacular. He ended the season with 4-5 to his credit and a senior county medal. Debut seasons don't come much better and in his first championship start he rattled the net twice against Garrycastle.
X is for all the X-footballers who have departed from playing for the club for careers in professional sport and entertainment. Conor Moore's Sketches have entertained the world and Conor has twisted the Tiger's tail and explained how it all started from a local squabble between The Downs and Mullingar Shamrocks. Mark Irwin will soon be departing on a singing tour of the USA and Canada after a successful German tour; Aidan Keena is banging in the goals for Dunfermline, Conor O'Brien is skinning defences in the rugby jersey of Leinster, brother Seán is nearly ready for the big breakthrough and Conor Gilsenan is a key player for London Irish. Some record for a small club; it's only a matter of time before we have a participant in DWTS.
Y is for young players waiting in the wings and we have several. They will be key senior players in the future with the proper approach and preparation. Dillon Matthews, Pádraic McKenna, Ross and Pearse Corroon, Brendan O'Reilly and Billy Flynn tasted senior championship football in 2018; Marc Eivers and Kenneth O'Reilly were members of the panel. There are several more waiting for their release from the under-age groups.
Z is for zero ... what almost everyone believed was our chances of winning a senior championship title in 2018. We were all gloriously wrong and some of us even thought that the next adult championship victory for Mullingar Shamrocks would be the intermediate championship some date in the future as we recovered for relegation. Fortunately, Ned was a believer.Tweet