Glencar Manorhamilton are happy to be over the line and into history. There they are in the record books for all time, four in a row Senior champions, no mean feat. But let none of us think for a minute that they will rest on their laurels. Word has it that the Drive for Five is already being talked about around the Market Square, inÓgurn’s, in the Glens Centre, in Lurganboy, Glencar, at the Amorset roundabout, in the hospital canteen and in every back road around Benbo.
The bunting and the flags and the banners and the multitude of Good Luck signs all around the town will be left in place for the Connacht Club Championship ‘ and hopefully till St. Patrick’s Day ‘ but then they will be put in careful storage, with a view to having them all in easy reach for next year’s County Final, when the blue and gold army will be hoping to head back to Pairc Sean to really clinch their place in the annals of Leitrim GAA.
This week the four in a row is in the back pocket; the celebrations are winding down; James Molloy must have captured every possible emotive moment for posterity; Diarmuid Sweeney is back in the County Board office in Pairc Sean (no doubt with a broad smile on his face every time he looks out on the pitch); Collette Fox has ideas for next year’s programme in her mind’s eye; the pupils in the schools of the parish are picturing themselves as the future heroes who will carry the Fenagh Cup from classroom to classroom; the players are energy sapped, but figure a go at the five in a row would be worth doing; there are a lot of happy mothers, fathers, grannies, grandas and whole clans proud that their family played a part; every supporter knows he or she has done their bit too; the sponsors and all who dug deep, or as deep as they could, say you couldn’t put a price on it all ‘ it was a real recession buster, a time to forget about Angela and the IMF.
How right that the players are the heroes and that the Manor jerseys seem to blend just right with mini-skirts, work trousers, school uniforms, dungarees, wellingtons or six inch heels. Wearing the club colours is a statement, maybe not a fashion one, but one that says where the heart is.
The literally hundreds of young boys and girls around the county who were part of the Leitrim VHI Cul Camps are proud to say they passed the ball to Adrian Croal, or sidestepped him in a solo run when he called on his ambassadorial duties ‘ and what an ambassador for the Cul Camps to have! Adrian played through the pain barrier in the County Final, but then every man in the Manor jersey would have tied himself to a rock, just like Cuchulainn and would have done whatever needed doing, to get that four in a row. And when the subs were called in, none of them threw a Tevez tantrum and refused to leave the bench.
Where there is a winner, there has to be a loser, but St. Mary’s are not losers, they too gave of their all, but just couldn’t match their semi final performance. Their day is not far off and nobody would begrudge Brendan Guckian and his charges their moment in the sun. Nor did they begrudge Sunday’s winners their glory and even travelled north to join the celebrations in Manorhamilton ‘ a real sporting gesture. Well done, St. Mary’s.
Carrick did have plenty to cheer about, when the Community Games team from the area was introduced to the crowd by Sean Ã“ SuilleabhÃ¡in and what a reception these young stars and their coaches and mentors received, as their All Ireland victory was feted. Future County Finals will surely have some of these players in action with their clubs.
There was deserved recognition too for the heroes of the past, as team captain Jackie Gallagher led out the Melvin Gaels side of 1961, heroes all and all part of the club’s four in a row of the sixties. Of course Jackie was a star even before that, when he manned the Leitrim goals in the Connacht Finals and National League Semi final. It was a great occasion for the Kinlough men to meet and reminisce after half a century, a period in which so many of them gave so much back to the GAA. They were just a half hour off the pitch whenÓglencar Manor had emulated their championship record, so the cycle goes on.
Talk of a final double for Manor was put paid to by a thrilling victory for Ballinamore in a nail biting Minor Final that was the perfect curtain raiser on the county’s big day. These young stars on both sides look to be good prospects; the Ballinamore lads weren’t even born when the club won the last of its record 20 Senior titles, but somehow we feel they will be part of the next one, while Glencar Manor can surely be happy that the conveyor belt is in operation.
Musically we were treated to the very best too, with the Kiltubrid Pipe Band every bit as majestic as when they marched up 5th Avenue, New York, while Aisling Sammon of Aughnasheelin, All Ireland Scór AmhrÃ¡naÃocht Aonair champion, charmed with her beautiful rendering of AmhrÃ¡n na bhFiann.
Fittingly, one of Leitrim’s stalwart Gaels, George O’Toole, was honoured when UachtarÃ¡n CLG Liatroma, James McGovern, unveiled a commemorative plaque to George’s memory, there in the GAA grounds, to which he devoted so much of his energies for present and future generations. The magnificent facilities at Pairc Sean will be even further enhanced, with the news that the Dillon Family and the Seamus Dillon Trust Fund have plans to help finance the installation of a lift in ArdÃ¡n Mhic ShamhrÃ¡in, to ease access for patrons requiring such a facility ‘ yet another indication of the close and generous bond existing between all GAA fraternity.
It is easy to take for granted the excellent presentation of the whole County Final occasion, so let us not forget those who worked so hard, in so many different capacities, to make it so special.
Glencar Manorhamilton are over the line in Leitrim ‘ next stop Connacht!
30-Sep-11 by Tommy Moran