Monday 16 July 2018

Begley: You have to cherish playing a Leinster final

Colm Begley of Laois. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm Begley of Laois. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Over the course of the build-up to Sunday's Leinster SFC final, Colm Begley ran into his former clubmate Stephen Cluxton.

The pair played together for five years in Parnells and there was only one topic of conversation - the Dublin man's injury.

"So I believe," Begley replied when it was put to him that the Dublin goalkeeper might not start a championship match for the first time since 2004. "I believe his ribs are shot. But you wouldn't know with that lad, you wouldn't! I saw him and asked him was he not playing. 'Yeah, sure you're not', I said. It's started already!"

Dublin and Laois meet in a Leinster final for the first time since 2007 with the Dubs priced around 1/100.

Begley missed that game as he was plying his trade in the AFL but he was in tow by the time the sides met in an All-Ireland quarter-final in 2012 when Laois pushed the newly-crowned All-Ireland champions hard but Begley admits the last few seasons have been difficult for the Laois panel.

"When you're losing games, no matter how well you're playing, it's a hard place to be... especially when it's lashing rain, as it is most of time in training for the first while!

"But no, it's great and it's enjoyable. For teams that aren't going well and are giving the commitment, it's not an easy place to be, let's be honest about it." 

Begley turns 32 later this year. The time has flown by since he made his debut in 2005 as a teenager when Laois went down narrowly to Dublin in the provincial decider after Mossy Quinn pointed a late 45.

"I remember talking about that Laois team, the calibre around me like Tom Kelly, Darren Rooney, (Padraig) Clancy, 'Beano' (Brian McDonald). I remember it being a very strong team and not feeling out of place, though I felt out of place in some ways because I was a younger player.

"The crowd too; the crowd was amazing. I remember walking by the Hill and in fairness to Dublin fans, they bring a lot. That's why I'm looking forward to this one so much as well; it's been a while.

"To get a chance to play at Croke Park again was lovely. Then suddenly to get a chance to play in a Leinster final again was a possibility, and we have that now. You have to cherish these things as you go along."

Irish Independent

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