Tuesday 19 September 2017

Offaly have parked minor hammering - McNamee

Offaly's Ruairi McNamee. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Offaly's Ruairi McNamee. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Three years ago, the Offaly minor footballers bounced into a Leinster semi-final, confident they could turn over a fancied Dublin team.

What followed was a hammering. A Con O'Callaghan-inspired Dublin put 6-13 on the Midlanders as part of a 25-point drubbing and brought their year to a shuddering halt.

It's the kind of result that might leave a scar on young men but Offaly's Ruairi McNamee insists that won't be an issue going into tonight's rematch with the Dubs in the EirGrid Leinster U-21 final.

"Look, I feel like every lad would agree that we couldn't have prepared any better for that game," he recalled, ahead of tonight's showdown Portlaoise which will be streamed live on TG4.ie.

"I think in all our own heads we were going to win that game. It was just one of those days that when one thing went wrong the next thing followed.

"The ship completely sunk that day, everything seemed to go wrong. It's not a day we like to remember, it's one we'll definitely forget anyway. We've all moved on.

"Even the year after, I wasn't involved, but the minors went up to Parnell Park and ran Dublin to a couple of points.

"I don't think it's anything mental that's blocking us or anything like that, it's just another game of football again.

"It's three years ago now. I think we're a completely different team to what we were three years ago.

"If you look at the team that started against Dublin that day and the team that started against Laois in the (U-21) semi-final, I'd say there's only a handful of lads there and a handful of lads on the bench.

"We're a completely different side with a completely different mindset again so we're just ready for action anyway."

Terrible tragedy hit the squad in the meantime. Adam Mangan hit 0-2 in that minor defeat but he died tragically in a farm accident in 2015.

And Rhode clubman McNamee (right) insists he is never far from their thoughts.

"We talk about him all the time. The stories we have to look back on him. You can't replace Adam Mangan in the dressing room or on the field.

"Even though his name mightn't be floating around the dressing room every night, we all know that he should be there and we're all playing away for him. Hopefully, we'll get a decent result."

McNamee is also involved with Pat Flanagan's senior side but he's unsure whether his cousin and star man Niall McNamee will return to the county set-up.

"To be honest, I don't know. I haven't been back club training. I think he might be doing a bit with Rhode alright but I haven't been back club training, I haven't really been chatting him or texting him; even so I think it's probably up to Niall to decide so I'll let him speak on that one.

"Yeah sure everyone probably would (love to see him back with Offaly) but it's his decision at the end of the day.

"He's after being a brilliant servant to Offaly over the last 15 or 16 years, however long he's there, so I don't think he owes anything. It's obviously his decision."

Irish Independent

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