independent

Friday 22 August 2014

Georgie 'taken' with Martin O'Neill at visit

Published 02/04/2014 | 05:36

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Republic of Ireland Soccer team manager, Martin O'Neill speaking at the River Island Hotel on Friday, with FAI Chief Executive Officer, John Delaney, Georgie O'Callaghan of the host club nd Monsignor Dan O'Riordan PP Castleisland.

GEORGIE O'Callaghan has long been both a fan and friend of FAI Chief Executive John Delaney and I suspect the feeling is mutual. You'd know when you see them together.

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An instance at the River Island Hotel last Friday afternoon proved the point - if only to myself. Georgie had the house full of youngsters in a highly anticipatory mood. John Delaney had arrived on the appointed time; guest of honour, Martin O'Neill lagged behind and got caught up in the notorious Adare traffic jams.

Georgie was fretting around the lobby of the hotel, John Delaney was smiling at him and teasing him with the 'Chicken with an Egg' analogy. The youngsters within earshot sniggered away from the scene as Delaney's quip cut close to the nickname they tag Georgie with.

However, it was traffic in Adare and Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill which occupied every jangling nerve in Georgie's mind as the minutes passed.

He eventually turned to another ally, Sgt. John O'Mahony who immediately saw that the situation was serious, schoolbus times were looming and time was simply running out.

There was nothing for it only to go and provide a Garda escort from traffic jammed Adare to the door of the River Island Hotel. This he, and Garda Ronan Coleman, did. It was an hour later but a generation of local youngsters got a lesson in what community policing is all about. In other words: they saved the day for the community they serve.

Georgie's summing up of his guests: We've established that himself and John Delaney are old friends. On Martin O'Neill, Georgie commented: "A Gentleman" and it was the way he said it that made me use those capital letters in this instance.

It isn't that Georgie is starstruck or anything like that because he's met them all. On being asked he reeled off a list of FAI dignitaries who have all visited at his request: Ronnie Whelan, Mick Byrne, Liam Touhy, Eoin Hand - he too during his Republic of Ireland tenure and Brian Kerr - before his - and the list goes on.

"We were very 'taken' by Martin O'Neill," said Georgie. 'Taken' is a localism which lodges a few notches above 'impressed' in our own understated way.

"He stood in and sat down for photographs with any group or family that asked him to and he hung around to sign autographs and talk to people for ages after. He made up for the time he lost," said the time stickler Georgie.

And, what about the saviours of the day? "That's what friends are for - I don't know what we would have done if John hadn't acted as quick as he did," said Georgie. And that's very high praise indeed - if you knew our Georgie. Even so, he's a great man.

Kerryman

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