McGourty fixed on delivering double delight to intimate St Gall's club
Published 12/02/2010 | 05:00
Nowhere on this island is there a greater proliferation of GAA clubs than the area within a three-mile radius of Casement Park in west Belfast.
From O'Donovan Rossa to Lamh Dhearg, St John's to St Teresa's and Michael Davitts and Henry Joy McCracken's, there is a club at the end of just about any street.
Some amount to no more than a single adult team, as much a social entity as anything else.
At the other end of the scale, St Gall's are making their mark more than anyone else on Belfast's GAA strip.
Conor McGourty is one of the club's nine dual players bidding for All-Ireland club glory on two fronts -- the intermediate hurlers are in a final against St Lachtain's in Croke Park tomorrow night and the footballers meet Corofin in a senior semi-final eight days later.
"There are 20 clubs within a space of three or four miles. It has been hard enough but St Gall's is a family club," says McGourty.
"There are 13 or 14 families that have brought their friends to the club. You know everyone there. I could name every player from U-8 to senior. That is what is so special about our club. There is a boy, Charlie Kerins, and he is in the club every day, and I know what time he is going in at and what times he leaves at.
"You know everything that is going on in St Gall's. That's just the way our club works."
The saturation of clubs brings its own innate rivalry.
"When there is a team from a local parish in it, you would not want them to win it. Yeah, there is support from people but I could come up to you and say 'good luck' but I don't know how much you would mean it.
"I can remember an instance where my father was managing the minor team and a woman from a local club came up to him and on the Saturday said 'best of luck in the minor final tomorrow'.
"And on the Sunday my mother was standing beside her at the match and she was shouting on the other team. That's just what it is like in the city!"
So victory tomorrow night against the Kilkenny champions will spark intimate celebrations?
He imagines a possible 'lock-in' but still commits to being out on the field for a Sunday morning football session as well.
McGourty will also be renewing his football career with Antrim, having patched up differences with manager Liam Bradley after a disciplinary issue cost the 20-year-old his place last season.
A call from Dinny Cahill, back in charge of the hurlers, is also in the pipeline. But for McGourty the club means everything and in their centenary year, St Gall's have designs on a glorious double.