Sean and Gaelic football

Sean and friends at Breffni Park, Cavan, after winning a county title

Sean liked team sports … when we bought him a green ‘Ireland’ tee-shirt at the time of the 1994 World Cup, when he was about three, he said, ‘Great! Now I can be on a team!’

In rural Ireland, the GAA club is often the hub of the community. Sean played some soccer as a young kid in Dublin, but when we moved to the country it became obvious that Gaelic football was the natural outlet for youngsters interested in sport.

Sean played first on, I think, an under-12s team (possibly under-13s – I can’t remember) with the local Munterconnaught club. He had started Gaelic later than most of his team-mates, and wasn’t particularly good at it … he found some of the technical skills difficult. But he loved to train and play with his friends and classmates, and the team won a county championship in their division, which was a big thrill for Sean. We went to most of the matches, and all the home ones. Sean tried hard and was popular with the coaches.

In his mid-teens his physique developed and his skills improved. As I have said, he was a stylish, well-balanced runner who covered the ground well. He played in midfield and became one of the best players on his under-16 team. I remember he scored a nice goal in a county semi-final at Lavey, when the team lost. He also played for his under-16 school team, which was of a much higher standard than the club team. The captain of that team – an excellent footballer who was born on the same day as Sean – died tragically in a road accident last year.

Sean played a few minor (under-18) club matches, but the sports he loved were rugby and soccer, and he had no real interest in Gaelic except as a way of spending time with his friends. It lost its attraction as he found other ways of doing this. Although he played it, he never followed it, and seldom if ever watched matches on television.

Sean is second from left in front row

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22 Comments

Filed under Memories, Sport

22 responses to “Sean and Gaelic football

  1. papaguinea

    Every Saturday morning should have a story about Sean (sport or otherwise) and I’d be happy to read one for the duration of my life. Saturdays are now spent watching sports on TV, reading the Telegraph and pottering about with no timetable or plan. And yes, messing about with my own son now approaching 3 and a half. (His vocabulary is picking up nicely.) Brendano, I have have very much enjoyed all the very kind comments and replies to ALL these posts; it is very heartwarming to see such supportive and kindly words. I like to think of us all as a special group in the wings!

    • Hello, pg … you’re certianly a special group as far as I’m concerned. It sounds like a good way to spend your Saturday … I hope you enjoy it.

      It’s a nice sunny day here … I’ve just been to the supermarket and happened to run into various well-wishers, as usual. Listening to David Gray’s White Ladder in the car … one that Sean liked. Went to the bakery where Sean and I had gone exactly two weeks before.

      Pauline and I are trying to be philosophical … taking the view that his time was up, and he went in a ‘nice’ way.

  2. Marya

    Hello Brendan … it’s lovely to have such memories of Sean’s happy childhood to hold on to through this time of anguish.
    He looks very pleased to be on the winning side here.

    Marya x

    • Hello, Marya. Yes, he was always happy to win … he didn’t have as many victories in his rugby career as he would have liked. In photos of his sporting endeavours he generally had an arm round one or more of his team-mates … he liked the ‘team’ side of things.

      • Marya

        Yes,Brendan, I noticed that affectionate camaraderie. I was actually going to remark on it but forgot to mention my thought:-)

  3. How is your daughter faring in this Brendan? If I have understood correctly, you had two children. It must be so hard for her to suddenly be the only child. I hope she feels you believe her to as especially special as her brother.

    • That’s an important point, Isobel … thank you. We were always a close family.

      Susanna will be 17 in a couple of weeks. Her boyfriend was here last night, and after we dropped him home I said to her in the car that I hoped she didn’t feel left out with all the nice things that are being said about Sean … that we would be equally distraught if anything happened to her. I told her that we think she’s wonderful, and have thought so ever since she was born. She said she knows this, and she does. We were always equally affectionate to both of them.

      It is difficult for her. We all feel shellshocked. She is acutely aware that her children will not now have cousins, and feels this as she is very close to her own cousins.

    • Squid

      Thanks for your query, Isobel. I logged on this evening especially to ask B. how his wife, and especially, his daughter, are faring.

      It’s not easy, B., but I know from personal experience that it is very important to remember and cherish, not just the child you have lost, but the one who is still with you, and who needs your love and attention more than ever. Some years ago, my niece was very badly hurt in a plane crash. Her recovery took several years and many operations. During that time, her parents naturally had to devote a great deal of attention to her, Her younger brother inevitably sacrificed a lot to his sister’s needs.

      I’m sure your daughter is fully engaged in your mutual grief right now, but whether she knows it or not, you all need to help each other heal. Remembering what you still have together, as well as what you have all lost, may help.

      Best wishes to you all.

  4. Cousins can be a pain. I hope S is okay, as you say she could be “forgotten” after what happened. You may know Sean Reilly from Mountnugent if you do Gaelic sports in your manor.

  5. Thanks for that Brendan. I was starting to worry about her.
    Cousins are important. I have lots, but i am also in touch with second cousins and I am nearer in age to some of them than to some of my first cousins.
    Hopefully, the children of of Susanna’s cousins will be equally important to her.

  6. Yes, I think they will, Isobel.

    Susanna used Sean’s ticket to go to a fancy-dress ball last Sunday, with his girlfriend. It was good to hear them laughing while getting ready. Everyone will make sure that she is fine.

    I’m just cooking dinner for a group of people here, including friends of Sean. There’s a lot of laughter.

  7. Bilby

    It’s wonderful to see the thoughtful and caring comments here, Brendan. I always look in and enjoy seeing photos of Sean and sharing your memories of his life.

  8. Thanks, Bilby … I’m glad you do.

    Yesterday a couple of Sean’s close friends called, stayed for dinner and told us a lot of stories about him. We then had a very late night with my brother-in-law and an old friend, and too much to drink. One of Sean’s old rugby friends called today. We have numerous invitations, to the USA and various other places. We have a lot of support.

    It’s been a very strange couple of weeks.

    • Rainer the cabbie

      Don’t call it strange Brendon. Shell shocked on behalf of your family,for sure. But again a triumph for the human spirit.
      The people that care for you, Pauline and your daughter are very real, feeling the emotions you are going through and pining for their friend.

      All this is very far removed from all the opinionated flame wars and hatred that we usually get in the blogworld.

      It just fits in with my feeling that deep down we are all the same and connected to one another.

      Cherish the moment Brendan, and give my love to Pauline and your daughter.

  9. Metin YILMAZ

    Hello Brendano,i convey my regards and greetings to you and your fahily.

  10. While looking through an old journal I noticed that Sean was captain of the Munterconnaught under-14 team for a time.

    He would have wanted me to mention that.

  11. Cymbeline

    Duly noted, Sir.

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