Tuesday 24 April 2018

McConville centre stage again but it may not be his final act

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

POOR Oisin McConville.

The fifth All-Ireland club title was hardly in his back pocket when the 35-year-old was asked if this was the perfect note on which to exit stage left?

"It's funny, there's a lot of people trying to retire me," he quipped.

"After matches it doesn't be pretty," he chuckled. "But I love it and that's why I do it and I've actually enjoyed the training this year, hard and all as it's been.

"I'm married now, so I don't have a full say in it, only 50pc!"

He was only married late last month so a honeymoon is next on his agenda but he was keen to play down his personal sacrifice, or future, in Crossmaglen's extraordinary All-Ireland history.

Yesterday was their 100th victory in 121 championship games since 1996 and McConville has only missed three of them.

His mum Margaret, ex-secretary and long-time servant to the club, was also recognised with a GAA President's Award in recent days, so yesterday capped a great week for the family. Yet he insisted that Cross was about more than any individual or family.

"The team sheet might change all the time, but the ethos and character and everything within the club stays the same," he insisted. "We lost that for a couple of years, we were hanging on to past glories, but we're moving on again now as a club.

"I'll think about it (retirement) and do whatever's right," he said. "One thing that isn't right is that we have players coming off the bench, day in day out, that would grace any other club in the country.

"It's unfair to keep them on the bench, some of them are now 23 and 24 and it's time to give them their chance too."

McConville praised managers Tony McEntee and Gareth O'Neill for "breaking us down and building us back up again" and that was a theme continued by Aaron Kernan, who held his hand up for jumping for a ball he shouldn't have, which yielded the Roscommon side's first-half goal.

"As always, they (McEntee and O'Neill) talked sense at half-time, they pin-pointed what needed to be changed," Kernan said.

"We didn't get the ideal restart, they scored first but eventually we slowly ground our way back into the game and, without playing exceptionally well, just did enough."

Both men also reflected on the composure and predatory instincts of the young man long tipped to take over McConville's throne -- Jamie Clarke.

"The man never panics and I'm grateful because he's helped me get a second All-Ireland medal," said Kernan, who didn't think he'd be back after losing to Kilmacud Crokes two years ago.

St Brigid's manager Noel O'Brien, an ex-inter-county referee, had no complaints, not even about some harsh decisions which Roscommon fans felt went against them.

"We went in at half-time feeling the breaks weren't going for us and we made adjustments and went ahead.

"But if you concede two goals in any game the chances of winning it are always going to be very slim," he said.

Irish Independent

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