Kellaghan set to negotiate Rhode through Leinster trail
Published 28/10/2016 | 02:30
While a shot at Leinster Club SFC redemption may not be possible on the pitch, Paschal Kellaghan is trying negotiate a route back to the final for Rhode, this time from the sidelines.
The 37-year-old soldiered long and hard for the village side, even making an appearance off the bench in last year's Offaly SFC final defeat to Edenderry, and when the opportunity came to lead his native side, it was one he couldn't turn down.
The former Faithful forward felt there was little left for him to offer on the playing front and having already developed a prosperous managerial career, including Leinster junior (Ballinabrackey) and intermediate (Monasterevin) titles, it was "the right fit at the time".
To win the Dowling Cup at the first time of asking was a "dream come true" and 20 years after his club senior debut, his focus is on helping Niall McNamee and Co past Wexford champions Gusserane this weekend.
Provincial final defeats in 2006, '08, '10, and again two years ago, hurt deeply but Kellaghan insists they're taking it "one game at a time" with Leinster honours off the table.
"I'm not just saying it to take pressure off anyone, it would never have been discussed. Our main goal this year was to win the league and the championship in Offaly, that was it initially. We've gone to the well a good few times and went very close," he said.
"We took a couple of days out after the county final and we just said we're going to take it one game at a time and see where that takes us and, firstly, it takes us to Wexford. But we're not going to take anyone for granted.
"In '12 Pat's (Louth) came to Tullamore and beat us so if you don't get over Sunday you don't go any further. We'd all love to win a Leinster, that goes without saying but you have to get there first."
Despite having the managerial Midas touch, Kellaghan has "no grá to train an inter-county team" and instead gets his kicks from triumph with rural clubs, but he admits such success stories are getting harder to achieve.
Rhode - a small parish which picks from a 2km radius - are "blessed that a special group came through" but Dublin powerhouses like St Vincent's and Ballyboden St Enda's make it difficult for sparsely-populated areas to break through.
"It's not sour grapes, if you come out of Dublin you deserve to, the Dublin championship is phenomenal. When you get out of Dublin, you've earned it, you've earned the right to be favourites to maybe win an All-Ireland when you come of Dublin."
But with a nice blend of youth and experience, and with McNamee on song, Rhode might ruffle some feathers yet this year.