Quinlivan 'free' to aid Clonmel with sights on slaying 'Boden
Published 11/02/2016 | 02:30
Trudging off the pitch in Ruislip after being black-carded just before half-time, Michael Quinlivan feared his Christmas and New Year plans with Clonmel Commercials lay in tatters.
Only 13 days earlier Quinlivan had broken Nemo Rangers' hearts with a last-gasp Munster final goal in a 'Roy of the Rovers' style finale, but after picking up his third black card of the club season, he feared he may miss their all-important semi-final date with Ballyboden St Enda's.
Inter-county rules state the punishment for such discretions is a one-game suspension. Sitting out Saturday's tie would have been a cruel twist of fate for the full-forward but, luckily for him, club rules are more lenient.
"I was walking in at half-time and I had my head in my hands thinking, 'What am I after doing?'" Quinlivan says. "I thought I might miss the semi-final and it had been said to me before the end of 2015, don't do it again, in no uncertain terms.
"For something so stupid, you know it wasn't a 'good' black card, in what can be called a good black card. That might sound a bit cynical but there are certain times, you know what I mean."
"I didn't mean to do it," he adds innocently. "But thankfully about an hour after the game someone text me to say it was okay, 'You're alright'. There was a couple of inquests going around and it was just pure relief to be free to play."
The London trip helped Commercials "grow as a group" and a "mad Christmas" ensued as a maiden provincial title was duly toasted on the banks of the Suir.
"There was an incredible buzz around with people stopping you in the street and coming up to you, that sort of stuff doesn't happen to footballers, especially in Tipperary, let alone in Clonmel," he says.
Any hangovers have long cleared, however, with manager Charlie McKeever quickly refocusing the minds. Having also led the Premier minors to an All-Ireland final in 2015, the former Finn Harps soccer boss helped solidify this group.
Clonmel didn't even make the Tipperary county quarter-final in 2014 but McKeever has changed their outlook and approach. No mean feat considering Quinlivan openly admits they are an "interesting" group.
"One week isn't the same as the next and in fairness he brought this group together," the 22-year-old admits. "We'd been poor for a couple of years and that was more of an issue with the players. He really did bring us together.
"He knows what he's doing as he has shown with whatever club he's been with, be it soccer or football. And with us being so young and with many people in different places and colleges, we're certainly a fun bunch to try and manage."