Sunday 22 July 2018

'Without a doubt, it was one of the highest levels I've ever played a sport' - From Shamrock Rovers to Leinster club final

Sharry originally played with Cherry Orchard and graduated briefly to Rovers’s first team when Pat Scully was the manager. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Sharry originally played with Cherry Orchard and graduated briefly to Rovers’s first team when Pat Scully was the manager. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

With the tide unexpectedly taking the blue wave back out to sea temporarily, Paul Sharry has acknowledged that his best chance of winning a provincial title is upon him and his St Loman's and Westmeath team-mates this weekend as they face Moorefield in a Leinster club final.

Sharry has endured the pain of defeat in three successive double-digit defeats for Westmeath to Dublin - two in Leinster finals.

But club football can be a great leveller and St Vincent's shock defeat to Rathnew has imbued the Mullingar side with hope that they can further prise open a door already ajar.

"That's an honest opinion on it. I'd say it's the exact same for every team when Rathnew beat St Vincent's, the same talk going, 'Jesus, it's a great opportunity now, a level playing field'," acknowledged the athletic midfielder.

"If it was us against Vincent's in the Leinster final, everyone would be saying they're red-hot favourites, whereas they might be saying ourselves or Moorefield are slight favourites.

"But it wouldn't be a major upset if either side wins. We look at it as a winnable game, no more than they do too. It's after putting a nice bit of a fire under that championship."

Sharry had a spell with Shamrock Rovers when he was younger and one of the deciding factors in leaving that career behind was the attachment he had to St Loman's.

"It was a lot to do with my club. Some of the lads were trying to get me back to play football and then Tomás Ó Flatharta (manager from 2006 to 2009) was on the phone trying to get me to play U-21 for Westmeath.

"So I was split between both and it was only going to be a matter of time before the body gave in or I became poor at both sports.

"So I felt if I could give 100pc to one sport, I'd progress a lot better.

"That was the deciding factor in coming back to football, and it would make you appreciate it now.

"To play with these lads you've been with since you were eight or 10, you'd appreciate it a lot more."

Sharry originally played with Cherry Orchard and graduated briefly to Rovers's first team when Pat Scully was the manager.

"That year Pat was ousted and an interim manager came and went. Then Michael O'Neill came in after that and I left.

"I enjoyed it while I was there. It was a huge learning curve and, without a doubt, it was one of the highest levels I've ever played a sport.

"People can look at the League of Ireland and say it's not a massive level, but it's very different when you're on the pitch and things are going 100 miles per hour. I'd give all them lads serious praise and say they are top-quality players."

Loman's have come from six points down against Mullinalaghta and seven points down against Simonstown to reach a Leinster final and Sharry has credited the confidence their manager Luke Dempsey has instilled in the players for much of that.

Dempsey previously managed Moorefield to back-to-back Kildare titles before reeling off three-in-a-row with Loman's.

"His thing is he's smart as in he keeps everything right. As 'Hes' (John Heslin) was saying last week, Luke would make you feel 10 feet tall before you go out and play the game, put a lot of confidence in the players. That would be his plan."

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