April 26, 1991
Like Galway - very much on the way back
by Margaret Rennicks
As a schoolboy in Portumna, hurler Sean Treacy worked hard at his game, perfecting his skills and achieving success at underage levels. He had two ambitions in those days - to win a senior All-Ireland medal with his county, Galway and to attain All Star status. The first goal has proved elusive thus far, the second the player proudly accepted in 1989. Winning a minor medal hadn't figured that importantly in the plan, yet today Sean counts being a member of the winning All-Ireland Minor side of 1983 as being his best and most lasting memory of his career to date - surpassing the All Star award. The fact that on the day he marked the now famous Niall Quinn, who was playing for opponents Dublin, is an added twist in the telling of his part in Galway's euphoric win. As it is the only minor championship the county has managed to win, Sean's medal has become more worthy with the passing years. "It was really great, so exciting, the team was very good then with players like Joe Cooney, Gerry McInerney and Pat Malone on it. That win will always be a highlight for me," says the prison officer, taking a break from his job in Mountjoy to talk to Hogan Stand.
The clatter of pots and pans mixes with pop music blaring out over the staff canteen, as the the aftermath of lunch is being cleared away. A handful of inmates help out with the washing up and a group of off duty officers play snooker. On the way we'd passed relatives waiting outside the main section of the prison, the brilliant sunshine lending a falsely relaxed air to the scene. "The job is demanding, it's high pressured, you really have to be cut out for it," Sean remakes about his work. A calm disposition is the main attribute essential in a prison officer, he says, and although it can be tough, when it is possible to build up a good relationship with the prisoners, the job is very worthwhile. He is well used to it at this stage, being almost five years in Mountjoy.
Co-operation from his fellow officers, when hurling necessitates re-arranging of time schedules, ensures he is able to continue travelling the distance to Athenry for training sessions with Galway. Out of the panel since last November due to a serious groin injury, the twenty five year old has just recently commenced light training. Without the support of work colleagues it would be impossible to make the sessions on a regular basis. "If you didn't turn up, you'd be letting everyone down, it's a long way to have to travel but it's worth it to be part of the team." The other officers have shown great interest in his career and are pleased to have him in the prison hurling club. Football and hurling is well supported with teams meeting sides from the guards, the fire brigade and different firms regularly.
A year after being included on the senior panel in 1985, Sean at corner back, was on the side which won the Under 21 championship. Working in America at the time, this fair haired giant was thrilled to be on the team, having arrived home only days beforehand. "It was nearly the same team which had won the minor so we all knew each other very well and we had an excellent trainer in Cyril Farrell," he remembers. While playing hurling with the Galway club in New York, also that year, the team won the New York Championship. Dropped from the senior side for over a year, on his return to the game Sean faced the daunting task of replacing suspended Tony Keady at centre half back in the 1989 All-Ireland against Tipperary. "I didn't think about it too much, I just concentrated on my own game, Tony was there to give me support and I felt at ease going into the match." Succeeding in remaining unaffected by the attention focused on him by the circumstances, Sean enjoyed a good game. With Keady back on the team, Sean moved to Conor Hayes position of full back for the final against Cork the following year.
"There are a lot of newcomers on the side and everyone will be pushing for their position. I think that will be very good for the team," Sean says of the Galway hurlers. The fact that no place is assured will maintain a level of commitment from all members of the panel and he is hopeful of their succeeding in the championship this year. "It makes it easy to participate in a county side which has been doing well, the interest is there and players are willing to work very hard."
Sean would like to be fit to start playing with Portumna for the championship in May. He has remained close to the club and the town, saying "I love the place and go home as often as I can." A full time coach promoting hurling in schools is vital to the continuation of the game he feels, and considers Galway very fortunate as they have the services of county player Tom Monaghan to do just that. "Hurling in schools has improved in leaps and bounds since the introduction of the coaching scheme, I'd imagine it wouldn't be so good in counties with a more prominent interest in football, but there is hope when you see counties like Down and Antrim improving." A mass exodus from the Portumna club due to emigration or the necessity of players working away has resulted in numbers falling in recent years. "All the fellas around my age from the intermediate team have emigrated, and at present fourteen of the team are away during the week." With the majority of the players being either minor or under 21 future hopes would appear to look very bright. "If we can keep all the players in Ireland, then certainly we'd have a great chance of success in the future, but on past record that is not likely to happen."
The opportunities to travel and meet all kinds of people have been welcome bonuses to playing the game for Sean. "I love the game and everything to do with it." He sees himself passing this on by coaching underage teams some time in the future. Way into the future in fact - for the moment the six foot two hurler will be concentrating on that unfulfilled ambition, the one that has been with him since childhood. "I can't give you an exact date," he says laughing, "but I hope eventually it will happen." And on that note it was time for the Portumna man to return to work, putting his cherished dream to one side for another while.
Taken from Hogan Stand magazine
26 April 1991
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