where are they now?
(Former Kildare footballer)
Paul 'Knuckles' McCormack was involved with the county team during one of Kildare's more successful periods when, under the stewardship of Mick O'Dwyer, they won a Leinster title and reached an All-Ireland final.
However, McCormack's own experiences during this period were bittersweet. He was not consistently selected by O'Dwyer, and missed out on the aforementioned games which was a huge personnel disappointment. "There were good times, but they were few and far between," he says.
Despite the disappointments, he is still happy to have been involved with the set-up. "Not playing in the Leinster or All-Ireland final was very disappointing, but it was still good to be part of it. I miss the good bits. I miss the buzz around when it's going well."
Time is a great healer, they say. The validity of this adage can often be overstated; however, time does add the benefit of hindsight and a degree of emotional distance from events which can allow them to be viewed in a more clinical light. McCormack may have had a difficult relationship with O'Dwyer during his tenure as Kildare manager, but he can now see the merits of O'Dwyer's methods and decisions.
"He has a proven track record, I was a bit frustrated myself, but in the end I can see his record stands for itself. Everyone he has been with, he's taken to a new level."
McCormack was more successful with his club Clane with whom he won two county titles in 1995 and '97. "Winning something with the lads you grew up with was great."
McCormack says he doesn't know who will win the All-Ireland this year. "I was away for a lot of the summer so I didn't see many games. At this stage, though, it's down to who does it on the day."
He is proud of Kildare for making something out of a season which was in danger of petering out. "I'm happy for them, achieving what they have, having recovered from such a bad start."
Not surprisingly, McCormack shares great empathy with the more senior Kildare players. "I'm very happy for some of the older guys; they're finally reaping the rewards for their efforts."
McCormack is a teacher in Clongowes, the school near Clane. He continues to play football for his club having recovered from breaking his pelvis in 2000 and the very real fear the injury would keep him out of the sport for good.