COLIN KELLY (Former Louth footballer)
COLIN KELLY had quite a year in 1989. The then 17-year-old played for the Louth minors, under 21s and seniors all in the same season. He was thrown in at the deep end for the National League but looking back says he wouldn't have had it any other way, football was in his blood and it seemed he was always destined to wear the red jersey.
His great grandfather won an All-Ireland with Louth in the early 1900s and his uncles won a couple of Leinster titles with the county in the 1950s. For as long as Kelly can remember, Louth football played a dominant role in his life. In fact, he was reared on it; growing up his father brought him to every league and championship game that the Wee County played.
Luckily, Kelly had talent to go with his passion and he quickly got noticed in Louth. He ended up playing three years with the county's minors and five with the under 21s. In 1988, he was brought onto the senior panel and in 1989 he made his debut against Mayo in the league.
"Looking back at that first game, it's all a bit of a haze," says Kelly. "I was very apprehensive but excited too.
"When you are 17 and making your debut in a National League game you probably get a fool's pardon; you get away with making a few more mistakes than others."
Kelly played with Louth for 14 seasons and during that time lost seven Leinster semi-finals. Indeed most of his memories from playing are of losing – the really tight games are hard to forget. But defeats aside he loved lining out for Louth and all that went with it, the buzz of game days, travelling to matches and the friendships formed along the way.
His club career was a lot more successful. He played most of his adult football with Newtown Blues with whom he won three senior titles. However, when he got married he moved to Clogherhead and transferred to the Dreadnots where he won two intermediate championships.
When Kelly retired, management beckoned immediately. He did two stints with the Louth under 21s as well as taking the reins at Dreadnots and O'Raghallaighs, who he brought back to senior championship for the first time in 40 years. He's now manager of Colmcilles in Meath.
Kelly has worked for Irish Cement for 20 years and is married to Pamela. They have two children, Connall and Tara.