Where are they now?
(Former Westmeath footballer)
Representing Ireland in the international rules series was one of Michael 'Spike' Fagan's greatest honours. In 1986, '87 and '90 he played against Australia and won a man of the match award in the second Test in '86. However back then, for a Westmeath footballer, making the Ireland team was a big challenge.
"I knew coming from Westmeath it was going to be a long and hard fight to try get onto the team," explains Fagan. "It was tough work but it paid off. It was a huge achievement, not only for me but Westmeath football. People in the county were delighted that Westmeath was being recognised for its footballers."
In the run-up to the current series there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the club v country predicament players are in. Back when Fagan played for Ireland under Kevin Heffernan, he faced the same dilemma.
"I told him (Heffernan) I couldn't make a training session because we were in a county semi-final and he told me if I wanted to get to Australia that I'd have to make up my mind what I wanted and I knew then exactly what I wanted. Heffernan was right -- you don't get a second chance to play for your country and these guys shouldn't be forced to choose."
Fagan played for Westmeath from 1982 until 1995 and he enjoyed every minute of it, especially the trips to Croke Park.
"When I first played there we got a cup of tea with loads of sugar in it at half-time. I thought it was great and wanted to play there every week. It was a fabulous facility then and even more so now, especially when you compare it to what we were used to down the country."
Fagan won eight county championship medals with his club Mullingar Shamrocks and is still involved with the club, training his daughter's under 12 team and helping out with other underage teams and in schools. Today his club take on Garrycastle in a replay of the county final and Fagan is optimistic.
"I think the weather will play a big part in it. Garrycastle are firm favourites going into the game but Shamrocks are a young team and they are hungry. If they can raise the bar like they did the last time then they have a very good chance."
These days, he works in the family business, Fagan Office Supplies.
Sunday Indo Sport