Tuesday 27 September 2016

Fr Dan the 'dual' star of Connacht

Declan Rooney

Published 18/07/2015 | 02:30

John O'Mahony went on to manage Galway to the 1998 and 2001 All-Irelands
John O'Mahony went on to manage Galway to the 1998 and 2001 All-Irelands

John O'Mahony may be the most celebrated member of the O'Mahony clan, but even he cannot boast Connacht senior championship appearances for two counties.

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His older brother Fr Dan O'Mahony lined out for both of Sunday's Connacht finalists, Mayo and Sligo, in consecutive years. Fr Dan (64) made just one appearance for each county in the Connacht championship, but is regarded as having the broadest spectrum of club medals in Connacht.

As far as he can ascertain, he is the only Mayo man with all five of the main club football medals in the county: senior, intermediate, junior, U-21 and minor, all won with his home club Ballaghaderreen.

And after he moved across the border into Sligo following his ordination he won a senior county title with Tourlestrane and an intermediate title with Ballymote Round Towers at the age of 42.

The Ballaghaderreen team of 1972 is long remembered as the last team from the club to win the Mayo senior title until their recent successes in 2008 and 2012. Fr Dan played right corner-back that day, and in the opposite corner was his brother John, who went on to manage Galway to the 1998 and 2001 All-Irelands.

Pastoral duties denied the pair the chance to play together as much as they would have liked - although they both featured on Maynooth's Sigerson Cup team in 1973 - but they faced off on one memorable occasion on the county scene.

"I remember we played against each other in some tournament or other over in Belmullet. I was playing for Sligo and John was playing for Mayo. Unfortunately we were at opposite ends of the field and we didn't get much of a look at each other," recalls Fr Dan.

"Funnily enough both of us played for Ballaghaderreen earlier the same day. And towards the end of my career I joined Moy Davitts for a few years and I played against both of my brothers, John and Stephen, who were playing for Ballaghaderreen."

Born yards from the Mayo-Roscommon border in Kilmovee, Fr Dan was well used to cross-border antics, but nowadays, as parish priest in the Sligo village of Cloonacool, he has divided loyalties.

"I played one game for Sligo in the 1977 Championship against Roscommon in Hyde Park, but we were beaten. The year before I played for Mayo and we lost to Leitrim after a replay," he says.

"I was a sub the second day so it wasn't a very glorious career at senior level. I played a few League games back in 1972, but that was it for Championship for me.

"I played minor for Mayo but we were beaten by Sligo in the first round in 1968. That was the last Sligo team to win a Connacht title. And after that I played for both counties at Over 40s.

"I always thought Mayo had higher ambitions and were expected to do better, but in Sligo they were not any way snobbish about their football. That was to their benefit as players got a better chance.

"In Mayo one day you'd be playing and then you'd be dropped. There was no manager ringing you up with the reason either."

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