Micheál Schlingermann | League of Ireland journey | Mayo GAA

Micheál Schlingermann | League of Ireland journey | Mayo GAA

New Athlone Town signing Micheál Schlingermann joined Jonathan for an in-depth and honest chat about his career to date. We hear about the harsh reality of being a League of Ireland footballer and why he had to reluctantly depart Galway United.

He describes his transition back to Gaelic football which led to him been called up to the Mayo GAA senior squad. In a fascinatingly honest chat, Micheál reveals how close he came to retirement recently and how the fear of criticism and what other people think remains constant. With great thanks to thecoffeestore.ie (https://thecoffeestore.ie/). They have given us a 5% discount for our listeners. Just use this code at checkout: ipredict



game, suppose, football, play, league, slagle, year, club, bit, players, keepers, season, manager, gaelic football, people, sport, ireland, gaa, train, goalkeeper



Hello and welcome back to play I predict a very, very special guest this week in front of his beautiful Christmas tree and also he's really in his bedroom. He's Miho slinger man and you at law and goalkeeper I had to think there for a second. I've been so reliant on you in the last season in my own Maroon advice. How can you watch your role but firstly, we'll thanks very much. Thanks for joining us How are you keep it good now? Yeah, thanks



for having me and it's good to be here and have a chat now and like you said, we've got the Christmas tree open areas and probably a little bit earlier than I would have wanted here.



Let's not even



I was never went in that battle now with



ya know if we can get any sort of joy at all into our lives so we're gonna start off just briefly what I'd kind of do with most people and I always give the story of this the people that had the most influence in my kind of sporting interest and getting that little bit of love and but a Crawford and it was my parents critically my mother Brenda, meow playing football and then my parents bringing me to games etc. Who would have been your biggest I suppose influences starting off so you you grew up in Mayo, probably in ga mad country more than anthem starting off initially? How did your who you rarely got kind of sports steers and not sporting very successful sporting career that you have today.



Yeah, so I suppose my earliest memories really are and my next door neighbors. So there was a group of lads that would go a bit older and a couple of years older than me. But obviously, as the young kid, I wanted to go play and playing football with them all the time. And we had a little place across the road called the tech like, so it was one of the tech schools and concrete football pitch there with with wooden gold set up and they will always be over there. And I you know, I'd run a hospital and try and get involved. But of course, then, as the youngest, there was only one position where I was going to be going in that slice.



Your career is developing already.



I think, look, I'll have to thank the lads. for that one. Yeah, the likes of the older boys, that I was hoping they would have been, I suppose, my first day playing influences and then and then I suppose growing up in a German household football would have been very, very prominent, you know, my dad and granddad. My granddad especially would have had a real a real love for football. And hopefully, you know, that's where I got a bit of the talent from as well. You know, dad would have played actually hockey and or, or my granddad also played a bit in his youth as well.



Well, very good. And would you have any? Would your family have any, I suppose, attachment really to to any German football club or



Yeah, with my granddad, my granddad would have been like one of the sponsors within a club. They're called Ms. mSv. Duisburg. A long time ago, he had a business and he was involved but the way football went in Germany then it got very, very popular and actually the club became quite successful then as well. They were called find the plate in the German called a couple of years ago, but then after building a new stadium, went into administration and all that as well. So they're, I think they're sitting in the third division at the moment. They will be they would have been for a couple years opened down from first rounders league to the second bonus league you



can see was a very, I suppose if the interest was sparked there straightaway, you didn't really have a choice in the matter, but you probably would have Breton's in the Gaelic football was the first major sport you would have played more, I'm just going back to my own environment growing up where ga was probably the number one community sport for want of a better word, or something similar to yourself.



On a massively SLM, the parish I grew up would have been a solely gala football parish. And as I was growing up, I think in 2002, then the soccer club was founded. It was an amalgamation of two small villages likes always kitchen if you know that we were the kitchen my parents bought I would have always played for knock United at the time as well. But like you said, Gaelic would have take kind of taken priority up until I just started myself then getting getting the love for for football in so obviously, there comes a time when you have to make a decision, I was lucky in that I played in gold, I was able to manage the board for a very long time up until a minor level lake. So after my inner then I made the decision to go solely in the direction of football. And it was kind of more of more or less thanks to Paul corporate slave or that time who gave me my debut and gave me a taste for the League of Ireland. And that was in 2009. So it's a long time ago, 11 years now.



That must be a very crazy time even think about because you of course played male minor that year as well. I believe you got to the final look, it was a defeat to our marriage, like my memory is not enough to start up any bad memories, but it must've been a very busy time because you're kind of I suppose you had an everybody knows about the fanatical ga support dimeo and how much of a it's kind of all parts of life is really associated when to your conversations. It's in your schools. It's in you know, everywhere you go, it seems to be touched, but at the same time you're balancing that with are just about to join slager as well. That must have been from a sporting point of view. You must have been flat to the mat around you



know, I was I remember trying to manage the board. And I just remember being lucky in that Paul coolcat Slagle was very accommodating and basically kind of said to me, I could go and play play Gaelic football and and use that as my priority for that year while I was still in the age bracket. And so there was games will say, at the time, it was to the a league to League of Ireland, a League and the other 20s. So I would have been played in that group quite quite a bit. But once the kind of knockout came in the minor season that year, I was solely focused, I probably didn't, you know, I probably went off to one or two training sessions or Slagle in that time, you know, but assuming it was all over, then I was I was back into the, to the full time train and kind of traveling and up two or three times a week to train and Slagle,



was that a difficult decision not not to turn your back because obviously, it's always going to be there your routes were making the decision to go down the football route was,



yeah, I think you said that there was never a case I felt like I was turning my back or that the door was closed. I always I always kind of intended on coming back anyway. And it's I suppose it just so happened that I went to college and Carol on the FBI, sports management course down there. And I would have spent a lot of time away from me or then as well and and at the time, then I signed for a loan and ended up in Dryden as well. So I actually spend a lot of time away from me or so I didn't get I didn't get the grief I probably would have gone away not playing and stuff. So no, I did I spent a lot of time away from the way from the sport force. And I was kind of building building myself and I was filling my profile and I was there on my belt and and had some some success along the way as well, which was nice.



Your time it's Lego even think even when I see you described and now it seems to be a lot of happy memories from that time.



Yeah, especially the first time around, because like it was my first real taste of senior football, and I suppose first team football. And I remember we got to that cup final in 2009 as well. And I was lucky enough to be on the bench for that. And like you said it was in the same year that I played in the all Ireland minor, Gaelic football final, as well. And actually, we had the claw ball here and final because you want to



put everything in life. So easier now.



To tell you what I found out later. And no, there was definitely setbacks later, later on in, in my career, like But no, I was it was really, really fun memories. And I like that I think it was a time of my life, I would love to, you know, kind of go back and experience again, if I caught it. Because at the time you just it just go quickly, and you don't take any orders, especially as a young player. You know, there's so many things that if I went back to now, I'd obviously be you know, taking a lot more in autism. And that's true through experience down through the years, not for them. No, I'm just thankful that that I got those opportunities at that time. What I will say is I was quite lucky in that. And I got to make my debut that year with Slagle and I had a manager that just wasn't afraid to throw a young fella and you know, and that time we made I made my debut was was on the telly against what he means tonight. They they won the league and



what a debut to have like because couldn't



ask for a bigger a bigger debut. To be honest with Jay, we did the League of Ireland. And that was part of penance for say that time, you know, very, very strong, strong team. And we were probably decimated with injuries at the time. And I was probably the only reason I played fortunately No, don't.



Don't play yourself



that they're painful now that that cookie threw me in.



Yeah, no, it was like, you're you're thinking back to times as well, where I think we're almost at a saturation point, really, in terms of life. A bullet at the moment is almost every day of the week, there's an abundance of games available to view. It wasn't like that, even though it's not that long ago. It wasn't like that back then. And even particularly for League of RT games, the fact that your debut was televised in such a big team as well, it's, it's almost, I don't think you can underestimate how big of a vacation that was, and particularly for your own personal point of view as well. Yeah, it was huge. It was huge. But funnily I don't remember feeling. Even now I don't remember feeling nervous or feeling like worried or I just remember getting out of the Boston I'm one of the last couple years there almost, isn't it?



Yeah, because I would have actually missed one or two of the sessions during the week because I was in college in Canada at the time. So cookie rang me to come up for the last session before the game The day before the game. So I shot up from from Carolina and missed my Friday down there and to get to the Army's my Thursday sorry down there to get the game to get the training session in Thursday and then obviously travel with the team Friday to Dublin so definitely. Yeah, I don't remember really feeling much about it. Again, like I think everybody always says about their debut or I need those big games. They seem to go away and you can't remember the specifics afterwards. You know, I just remember we we lost three one and I know we we were coming Baffert in the first half the game was over and we just you know, the second half was probably just bohemian seeing the game I was like, you know?



Yeah, so that was quite a quite a way to start things off I suppose things like a lot I guess I can relate to a lot of League of Ireland players from here on you went on what is almost described I think someone heard described probably best before is the football and journey in Ireland where you kind of bounced not bounced around, but there's always a bit of moving around and the League of Ireland for anybody that doesn't really follow week, you know that closely? it? It's a very it's very short mind to think and I think a lot of players or a lot of clubs, sign players for a season or something like that. And then they seem to start from scratch again, it's there's no real particularly, maybe Baron aside from a couple of the top clubs, everything is so short term bear. So you do find players that are almost every year it is the shop window, and there is a lot of movement. But you went on to Athlone and of course we'll touch on that loan again a little later on, and the club that you've recently resigned for but from from from mantova alone and the but the one that I'm I have to say and it's probably a story that you're probably sick today talking about it, but it is that move to to Montana and really, like I still can't get my head around how you can recover from a situation like that. Like so, mon mon where everybody knows Ronnie Collins, even not from a footballing point of view, he is such a, a cult hero for want of a better word and TV documentaries and stuff like that, you know, he likes to wear his suit is that clip that went around again, even recently enough, about half on the talent the fourth official where he could and could not stand you know, is that he almost is a celebrity in himself, but you go you sign for them. And then all of a sudden, the club was wind down. And I believe if the story I read is correct, you found out on social media, as well that, you know, things have gone belly up. How on earth? Can you put that into words in terms of we all know, our football, unfortunately, can be a little bit unstable. But this just took the took the biscuit altogether?



Yeah, that was a desire to situate what I have to say is I know you touched on it there. I know. It pulled me public opinion is a massive mixed bag, I have to say, I didn't make it through run through walls from I'd say what do you honestly, like him and his family have to be one of you know, the nicest people I've ever met, like, you know, in terms of rowdy, you know, we got I got to know, his daughter through bernzy, who I played with as well. And Rodney Jr. Like, you know, that there has been loads of controversial things, but I have to say, from my experience, and I have nothing but good things to say they've already an absolute gentleman. And when I left Slagle he, right, he rang me after, you know, a couple of years not having spoken to him. And that, like, was an opportunity for me to go to a club in England. Now. I just got the job full time. And I just got in with with mayo, G. So I had commitments at the time. And he gave me the odd plate. I mean, ja, you know, and I want to have to say was, it was it was out of the blue, but it meant a lot to me, and I just I think it sounds I'm open away, you know, just his kind of, you know, thoughtfulness for other people and things like that, as well. And he'll always do something for you, if you kind of can, like, you know, and you know, that was obviously something came on his radar. And he said, I might not justify that for you, you know, something as simple as that. But I have to say, you know, an absolute gem to deal with and and it was unfortunate that things didn't work out that time. And, you know, I don't know the ins and outs of why it didn't work out. But what I what I have to say is I he tried to save me the year before when I was still out at law and halfway through the season to finish off the year with monat and then not getting promoted. You know, we had success that year. He got Milan into the premier. And then it was about building on it as far as just look things in didn't didn't go midway through the year. It was funny though, because we'd actually just knocked Slagle out of the FA Cup. You know, they were the defending champions. And we think we played Pat's in the league just before we broke up for the midseason break. And all of a sudden, like you said, and one day social media you're looking at a man who has gone out of business and you're on you know, your your ring, and you're ringing around the lads then to say, you know, what's going on to you have you heard and nobody had heard us and you know, until we actually finally got confirmation that you know, what we what we were reading was was true. And then obviously, there was a couple of weeks afterwards, Martin on how we are kind of future was going to be what the story which our contracts were in terms of, could you sign for another club? Or did you have to wait for a deadline. And then when you went to another club, you were cop tied? Because you'd played in the League Cup and FA Cup because we played Actually, we played slide when both we played in the League Cup to beat us and we played them in the FA and we beat them so the players I played in that were our cup tights or a club looking like a shoulder and looking at you or a draw, how to look into sign Yeah, you could only play in the league games for them. So you know, if it came to you and another player who wasn't called trade, they'd probably get the get the nod. So there's a lot of kind of issues and again, I think, I think Talk about it before I was I was okay, I was a young lad, I was in college, and I would have gone anywhere just to play football. But those lads with mortgages with, you know,



all the grown ups don't,



are you guys relying on that extra income for a reason I know you probably shouldn't rely on that extra income has priority in your life or whatever like that bought in auto was last year that were out of pocket for that for a long time because of it. And then the uncertainty then of not knowing where your next kind of focus is going to be and having to move midway through season, which is always difficult, you know?



Yeah, it was, even now I'm still struggling to get my head around of how a situation like that was allowed to happen or did happen, because with the amount of money that is in the game, you only look across the water, look at other leagues, and even as we've since found out in the FBI itself, and there was wasted and squandered. It seems to be a constant. What is the old thing the problem child, I think that the league was kind of a mock that out, and it's kind of stuck there for a while, like you've been around the beach a lot, you know, in terms of, you've seen it, I've seen a lot seen more than you probably showed it in a lot of ways how, and even what always kind of confuses me is a bit is that like, General football, sporting funds don't necessarily or there's a bit of a turn your nose up approach to the league as well, whether they could yet they could be obsessed with a team across the water, or in Scotland, or England or whatever. And that all is strange found, I find very, very strange to have to say that. There's some great facility, some of the facilities do need to kick in, but there are some very good facilities as well. There's some great football, there's every Friday night, there is an option to go down, obviously COVID has put a spanner on that, but it will be back even prior to that. Why do you think the league doesn't get that same level of interest? Like, look at look at me, RGA? I know there's there's obviously community environment and it's built in a little bit more force? Why do you think it never really kicked off? it? was it was it do? Is it simply just down to like lack of TV coverage, lack of money, etc, be pumped in? Or do you think there's a deeper issue? Now, it's hard to throw it into, but



I think both both are gonna be linked. And obviously, you know, I'm not an expert on marketing or any of that. But I do, personally, I don't know, I think it's a cultural thing, because like, you just you mentioned male GA, male ga is, is a massive culture, it's a, it's a religion in a way down here, you know, the whole county is, is behind, you know, obviously, we're looking forward now again to another Orlando final. And I work in a company where there's a lot of people and the talk every kind of Monday morning, if may or playing is about the match. And you know, the Friday leading in, it's you know, everybody's talking about how will they do this, that neurotic team selection, and it is, and that's the culture there. But you see, because of that culture, then businesses will invest because they know they're going to get there, they know they're going to get their exposure from it, like, you know, what I did, what I will have to say is the the league here has gotten much better in terms of, you know, exposure for your poster boy players. Like, for example, in mail, like you've got your, your your many celebrities within the team. Whereas in slate, and again, it goes back to what you're saying there, you've got lads coming in for one year, then going for one year, so they're not going to be up on billboards, they're not going to be on bus stops and things like that, because they will be gone next year. Whereas in male like you've got the players are there for as long as they're good enough to be there. So they you know, they can they can put more money in sponsors, I mean, can put more money in because they know that the exposure is there like so it's probably bought it's a culture thing, but also a financial thing as well of investors wanting to put their money and had known that they're going to get a sound return on it.



Yeah, cuz even if you just without going off on a side tangent you look you think back to and it's one thing I did notice, particularly towards the end of the last season just gone by with going over with a playoff run, I did feel that we were getting back on a little bit of the old where all of a sudden more more people are talking to you about the games and then we have the course some of the surreal kind of very newsworthy stuff in terms of the appeal and you know, on the last day of the league, we weren't gonna we weren't in the playoffs and then went on draft and then I never want to hear about the word again, I think there's still smoke coming off my phone for those couple of days. But you had and then it got into the playoffs and one won the semi final and it was getting back to a stage then where there was interesting was becoming it was it was the game was covered quite a lot but that's not the norm really for go you know, games but you look at mail, and then it's just boom. So it's I think it's it's probably a combination of both, but let's hope that we can push on I know Stephen Kenny involved you'd hope is a is a big kind of step in giving it even just for want of a better word, a bit of recognition for the League and the fact that players actually, okay, well, not saying that everybody in the league is a world class footballer and should be playing international football, but they'll get a realistic chance and they will look at players and players will pick for previous managers would wouldn't even know about players there as well. So this, you've probably seen small steps, but it's probably a little it's still a long way off where things need to be. Yeah, and I have to say in I suppose favor of the league, and in with a bit of kind of,



you know, a bit of a clap on the back. Like, for me, I think the streaming of the games was really successful. You know, I think that is a really, really good option for the league, I think, increases exposure, I thought the price was fantastic. And I have a couple of balls, mates, and they they paid for every game, you know, or they bought the package so they could watch every game. And I do think that that should continue. Even if we're allowed to have 10,000 people in the ground, I think that option should still be there. Because it allows people all over the world to watch it most people all over the country to watch, watch the games. And then obviously, on social media, if something happens in a game, you've got the footage,



the goal is



Yeah, well, I know that was on RT wasn't a it was Yeah,



but I like I remember being on a radio stations the next day talking about that, you know, did you see this goal? Yeah, I was added, like, all of a sudden, it just shows the power of social media, the power,



you have that clip based on based on the based on the stream, you know, because you have you have a report and the global sports has the rights then to it so they can they can put it on their own pages and, and things like that as well. And then obviously, you know, you look at the rest of the package that was that was available to you.



It was a very good, very good save during that period, as well as it came to social preference or prominence really on social media as a result of streaming as well. Awesome. Yeah.



Just don't get me wrong. I think



it was Yeah,



I just want to say for anybody that doesn't have a clue what we're talking about it it was the goal, they longed for the game in lung production. The goal we had just kind of overturn the game, I think was a two one at the time, maybe three one.



We were up in the second half. So there were two, two, no, no,



sorry. So it was it?



I think it was I think it was three two or three, two or



three two, perhaps Yeah, I think was one goal in adjure. And what I can only describe as an absolute, the ball breaks inside the just inside the lung part half. And it's one of those kind of tackle cross clearance build ever was with Baldwin sale and you are good off your line, it can fly in for the whole app way. And I just remember looking going all. And here Superman himself comes flying back and just gets a handle and puts behind the corner probably one of the best saves I've ever seen in real life. But we'll stick with that clip as well. It's always nice when you see going out for a game and you see something that's doing the rounds, as opposed to what do you think, how did you let that in? or whatever? No, no, I



appreciate that. Thanks. And I suppose again, look, if if the if the game wasn't streamed, you know, the photo Jordan over there of that either he also wouldn't have got the same same exposure would have been just a tweet or something saying it would say Did you see that say that now it's always nice to make one of them.



Absolutely, absolutely important one as well as the way that the season developed out. And where are we you you were at left Manhattan in crazy circumstances, we talked a bit more about how the league is a bit unstable. And then you've done to have, I suppose a very successful time a draw to obviously draw to kind of have gone up and down up and down for a little while they're back up and the big time now. And I do think I'm just an again, on a slight tangent, I do think it's, it's pleasing to see what drod have done in terms of they've gone up to the premier. But they've rewarded a lot of most of their players from last season as well, a huge amount of them have already been swiftly been offered new contracts, which is always pleasing as well, with a little bit of uncertainty to one side. But you had some great times yourself there.



Yeah, this was just a property rewind a bit before that I would have had that decision, or to make and to leave and get games because obviously, there was territories at the time. So I got some very good advice from from people around me to, you know, go and play football. So I'm the director of the course on it, Karen arranged for me to join Atlona you know, go train with them first and play a trial game, which actually just happened to be in dalymount against balls as well played very well in that and the manager signed me up straightaway after that game, and eventually went on to play about 50 games for them before moving to Montana and again, and getting in there and getting a couple of Premier Division games and again, just just probably I suppose in increasing my profile, a small bit Around the league, you know, as a young open common goalkeeper, you know, I've had massive amount of appearances but I don't have enough time for people and managers to know who I was. And then obviously moving on to drama to where you know again going in halfway through the season jurado are absolutely flying. And we were second in the league pushing for you're still in the still in the cops. And I look I didn't get in that season because Gabby Saba was there and he was flying I think he got in one of the I think he got in the Archie Team of the Year that year. And Rado had a very very solid solid defense the games we won one nail that year I think was something else you know. And Mick cook actually you know, he he approached me midway through the season said Look, I want you to come in and push push hard, which I did but there just wasn't an opportunity for me to play within that season. I think I made my debut in the very last game of the season when we'd already you know, we qualified for Europe and I think we just got knocked out of the the FA Cup as well on penalties but we actually won the League Cup that year as well but it was kept tight so I wasn't I wasn't allowed on the bench for that I was on the stand with with two or three elders who were also accepted as well. But look we have a fantastic year and I have to say to this day probably in touch with you know three quarters of that group of players we you know, we'd have a little whatsapp group that still exists and still gets still gets a few things in it like in also that that's really really fun to find time and obviously the following year then we pushed on from that had the Europa League game against marble and then the three Cup finals of that year no unfortunately obviously didn't win any of the Cup finals but again, just experience looking back fond memories there was success there we were probably really unlocking the lead out here we drew a lot of games we should have been we should have probably finished a bit higher because we actually built onto our squad from the year before where we'd finished second binds label and you know we just I think we finished material outside the European positions and then in the end our only chance at Europe was was the FA Cup which we we then didn't get so we didn't get Europe for the second year on and then I suppose from from there then we we kind of regressed each each year. We Johnny Mark came in after make a couple of my sorry, we dropped the horgen first and Johnny Mike Damon Richardson was there for a bit. And we also had I think Pete mountain tour caretaker church for a little while as well. And then we finished off finish off that year getting relegated unfortunately, Bosch after I left and dropped out of bounce back straight back up into the premier and like you said they've been hanging up their their boats fully deserved, fully deserved awards this year. Yeah, no,



I think I think everybody will. You'd want to be an awful diet, but very biased sport and not to recognize that they were the best team in the First Division this year. I thought they'd lose that in the Athlone game. After the great result against against Bray, I thought Here we go. But no, they got their just rewards in the end. And that was a great nice to have some great scenes there. I was in in cabinteely a stroke. The night they won the league. And you went back to familiar territory then after that really after leaving, leaving dromeda back to slager. When and it goes back to what I kind of touched on the start where there's a lot of movement around really like it's it's crazy when you completed we all know your career. But when you when you kind of just kind of describe it through and you realize how interlinked it all is. There's so many. And you see that with players as well. There's so many players that have played for multiple different clubs or played with each other. It's a it's a kind of a tight bond of, of network of context, and for one of a better word as well.



Yeah, well, obviously, you know that we're the day after the PFA awards, I suppose congrats to the team as well. The manager was funny you mentioned that because and that group of players included Dara Doyle, who obviously was the manager now with Longford who beat austerity to get the the into the final of the playoff for promotion. And then Tim was actually me Rumi for the first year good. He's now managing managing driver now. If you saw the way we lived you you'd wonder who the adult was and who do I seem to do everything from you know he came in and asked me what I was like the wife I was asking me what's for dinner normal well Don't tell him again fully deserved you know he's he's built a good team there and and have the plane in the right way and it's great to see someone you know so well how to have a bit of success despite you know your own you know, you'd like to be in that position with with call yourself like you know,



I'm just asking the next time I'm talking to Tim to anybody's cooking habits. Maybe Knock off you might be more apt to move on back us was this is where the next journey really started for you really



if we can call my goal was



just Lego I guess is it because this is around the time I'm writing saying this is where the the GAA started to, to restart, I suppose yeah



no I like I obviously I had that really really good season at Strava despite getting relegated and I got movement. And now finally I've met Slagle the year before that as well. But I'd opted to stay on Strava for another year, where I played, I played every minute of every game that year as well for drama, which was great. So I got the move, rebel, took over us Slagle. And I think I was his first line in there as well. I remember meeting him when he when he just got it got the job. And I was delighted to go back because like that, in my head. At the time, I saw Slagle as my, you know, my forever home after that, you know, I'd had my successor Dre had been living in Dublin for a couple years, had a job in Dublin on the side of football as well within the FBI. And I saw it as my chance then, you know, my opportunity to go full time. And, you know, put put all my eggs in the football basket, go back to Slagle. And I signed, signed a one year deal with Rob and then halfway through that year, I ended up playing another two and a half years. So I was I was, you know, contracted in for three years there at Slagle. And, you know, that was, that was my ambition, then was to stay there and be successful there. We had a really, really good first year, Slagle. Now we actually had a shaky stash, to be fair bought, we, we kind of, in the middle of the year on summertime, we just hit form, and we were kind of winning, or, you know, we weren't losing games. So we went on a really, really good run and actually just missed out on we just missed out on Europe. But again, we kind of built a really solid group of group allows you had Karen sadlier there, and gbq Johan, you know, who are two great players, really, really successful now, in in the UK, Jimmy with Rochdale and sads. With his he's got a rather now he just got injured there. And this year now, but he was you know, he got his move to the championship after you know, kind of a sensational interfere with Doncaster. So we had them players there as well at a time as well as others as well. Like there's other successful players there, too. And good lads, like, you know, but we never really, I suppose the second year, we never really pushed on from that. And actually the end of that first year, I missed the last couple of games. And with an injury, so I didn't get to take part in that final push for for Europe for them. All in all, you know, you would have seen it as a successful year because they just avoided relegation the year before when he was there. So yeah, I suppose it moving on from that, then into the second year, pressure came on. Because we had such a good first year of both we, I suppose we didn't really manage to keep hold of some of the key players. And I know, you know, midway through that year, then we kind of hit a bit of poor form. And we ended up losing the manager, and a new guy came in and we just about survived again. That year. And then again, this was pushing on into the third year, we were looking to strengthen but didn't really didn't really strengthen an awful option and ended up in a bit of a bit of chaos. And that's I suppose, where things really fell apart for me at the club, halfway through the year that I ended up leaving. And to be honest, I had hoped that, you know, I had an option at another club. I was training with two or three other clubs at the time. But then restrictions from the FBI came came in on those clubs that they couldn't find players because of financial issues, again, the joys of the leader whenever. Yeah, so that was when I had to, I had to get a job, obviously, I had to, you know, pay the bills, I have to you know, pay my way. And that's where I suppose I came into the job here and male and went back playing for my club a bit towards the end of the season, but only to be honest with you. Ash, you know, at the time, I wasn't, you know, fully fully committed to that. I had still intended on getting back into the league, but the way the timing worked out, and I suppose with the number of goalkeeper positions available across the two leagues, it just wasn't possible. And again, I couldn't justify moving to Dublin and to play for our first division team when I didn't have a job sorted or any of that kind of stuff going on. You know,



how difficult was that? Like, I know you had a back, bad neck injury as well in Sligo and you've kind of gone for the joys of having two and a half three year contract in front of you towards personal injury and then the uncertainty of not knowing where your next club is coming from and all that. Personally, mentally. That must have been a very tough time.



It was tough. Yeah. Because at the time as well, it was it was midway through that second year. And I started feeling my neck and shoulder sore. And I was just playing through it. Every week I was getting through train and I was, you know, taking the anti inflammatories that I needed to take and things like that is the usual like the manager



was sort of approach



like it was it was papering over the cracks to be honest. And eventually, it packed it in. And it was actually we played cork, in terms cross beat, the more new and my missus had the rules to lead the same weekend to work out perfectly, I was able to get off the boss and Charlie will after the game, follow faster. But it was after that weekend, it was actually after the game on the way to Chile. I remember just feeling like battered, I felt like I couldn't think I couldn't lift my arm above a certain height without pain. And that so when I returned to train, and on that Monday then and I remember not being right and couldn't train. And I remember just pushing myself through that week. And it was at the time where there was a cop games, we were out of the cop. So there was like a massive long wave, the only game we had coming up was actually an iron bruco game because other teams were doing well in Europe at the time as well. So all our games are kind of it was three or four weeks before we had a league game. So I thought right now I'll get it right. Of course, it never came. And I just remember were doing a session one day feeling the pain coming right up the side of my neck. And then the next morning when I woke up, couldn't couldn't lift my arm or anything like that. So went and got it sorted. And it turned out that I ruptured two discs in my neck that I'd obviously been playing on and playing through for weeks. So it was then that, you know, no, no, no amount of painkillers I made that was going to be able to, you know, allow me to get through it. So I missed the rest of that season without injury. And I just remember that the new manager come in at the time. And I remember just not feeling like he fancied me, you know, like, Oh, you just you get that feeling manager doesn't fancy me here. So. And, you know, I think I don't know, at the time I remember him, you know, making a passing comment about my injury saying, you know, one of these kind of cliche, things are keepers are soft, and all that kind of stuff. Obviously, he's joking around. I never really I never really believed that at the time. And you know, I just, there was something there. And I can't put my finger on it now or I can't I can't say because I'm not obviously, you know, it was just a feeling I gosh, it was how I felt. And I can't remember saying at the end of the year, you know, I had a year left on my contract and said, Look, if you don't want me here next year, I'd rather you know, go now and try and sort myself out and get a new club if I have to. and stuff like that. And you know, I got the assurance and all you'll be here next year, get your neck right get injury free for preseason. And we'll have a good one. And I did that it was it was great. Like I enjoy playing obviously the first game of the next season. But that's when we brought in the new sign in from, from Chelsea that time who again, probably just justified my feelings of whatever anxiety about and was at this fella just doesn't fancy me and he wants to get somebody else in. So that was the way it worked out. We chopped and changed for a couple of weeks. I remember I played the first game, he played about three or four in a row. And I remember at the time thinking I want to, I want to just, you know, prove them wrong. That was my my attitude at the start of that season. And eventually, I did I got back in after a couple of games, then I I had a nice little run of games where I was playing well. And that. And I remember, I remember the game it was it was against dairy, we lost to nil and I made an error for the second goal, you know, and it was called up after the game. You know, he said to me, You know, I should have known better. And I said yeah.






after that, then I was dropped again. And I suppose after that, then it just kind of it didn't it never really came back for me after that. With him, I'd say I'd say the trust was gone for him. So eventually, when I went and spoke to him, I asked him straight out, you know, what were his plans for me. And he told me straight out that I wasn't in his plans. And in fairness, Ed McGinty was the the timekeeper there at the time, he said that Ed was ahead of me in the pecking order. So I was her choice. And that's the way it was. So we kind of mutually mutually terminated the deal. And like I said, I only probably mutually terminated because I thought I had something lined up, okay to be able to play Anyway, you know, so I didn't know that things were going to work out the way they did. Because to be honest, if I did, if I hadn't known I wouldn't get a club for the rest of the season, I would have stayed and battled it out. Like you know,



what the fact that it's great, isn't it?



Well, the fact that I thought that I was going to have somewhere to play and that's all I wanted to do was I just wanted to play football. And the club I was going to was bottom of the league anyway. So, you know, it didn't matter to me who they were. I just wanted to go and play and show that I could play and show that I still had a lot to offer. Despite the manager not thinking thing console, you know?



Okay, yeah. So there's a lot in that really Because you've touched on a lot of things there that are, I suppose the biggest fears, particularly, you know, keep going back to League of Ireland players as well, wherever, then their safety nets and aren't there at all. But it's always like one bad injury away from from you don't know what's next is obviously a manager doesn't like you whatever. But there's one thing I'm always curious about is and we've seen this, we've actually seen in some high profile enough times as well where it feels like a manager has two keepers, and neither of them that he really really would bet his life on and he kind of moves between the two or he might play allocate one keeper to one competition, or one to the league and one to a cop and stuff, even recently enough with Liverpool before the sign Alison, where you had Karis and gold for the Champions League in England or for the league. To me, that sort of situation never really works, because it always feels like old school, your keeper has to has to come in and be settled and nobody's defenders, etc, etc. Your your thoughts now, you're probably a little bit biased in terms of you want to play every game, but does it? Does it rock the boat too much? If if there is chopping and changing?



Yeah, it's hard because, you know, as a manager, I suppose you'd always want competition there. And I suppose he was looking at us maybe saying, Oh, I'm gonna bring in someone really good to push me bought when when I suppose you bring in someone as high profile as what he brought in from from Chelsea that time. You know, the anxiety definitely does kick in to say, okay, you know, something's not right here. And he's gonna have to justify playing him, because he's brought him in on loan. And again, you know, the parent club aren't gonna send the player over if he's not going to be playing. So I suppose it's just not known, actually, it's just not knowing where you stand. In terms of from a goalkeepers point of view, it's just not known where if you're the number one, or if, if you're the one pushing the guy that he's just brought in, and stuff like that, as well. And, again, going back to go back from a manager's point of view, you know, you want you want competition, but at the same time, you need your two keepers to work well together as well. Otherwise, you know, you're not gonna have healthy competition. If it's unhealthy competition, it's not going to work.



You know, especially what kind of nervous



when they're training together all the time. And if you think about, if two keepers have a dislike for each other, you know, the sessions can break down so easily because the woman holding the ball is in control, or if you miss cakes, and things like that, you know, the session can break down. So I suppose you do need to be to be kind of conscious of your, your, the personality of your keepers as well. Like I said, I always would have been the type of player that probably just needs a little bit of a confidence boosts the odd time as well from from the manager to tell me I'm doing well. It's telling me I'm in a good place and things like that, just to re reassure along the way. And that's just the way I've been other I know there's other players that couldn't give a rattle off the mountain or things to just get on with it and not care and come home after a game and not think about as far as I'd be up all night, you know? Yeah, no, it is. It's it's an interesting dynamic. And it's interesting to see, I suppose one of the best examples I wish would be the current male situation where you've got probably two of the best keepers in the in the sport and in different attributes in as well. You'd say it's nice. Yeah. Yeah. And I suppose it's widely publicized, you know, the battle that goes on there between the two male keepers and bought again, it shows like, you know, that, that the competition You know, it can be hard when you've got two keepers of the high quality because like you said, only one complaint.



Yeah, well, speaking of mayo and Jaden as well, your league of Ireland might have taken a little I suppose pitstop to one side, your ga career, whatever, right in saying that, that ga career kind of escalated. Sounds like it wasn't necessarily your plan to go I'm going to go play for me Oh, no. And take this chapter come about



because it It all started with me having to leave Slagle and I suppose to be honest, at the end of slavery things got really really tough for me traveling up and down just laid off I say first of all, I was living up there but they got so often that I decided to move home back to me or and travel up and down myself and David Hollywood metal to mail ads and we traveled together every day. So we you know that and it was tough for me at the time I made that decision to kind of be around my family and be around you know, my my kind of friends older grown up with rather than being in the football bubble, which was to be honest with you at the time in my head like you know, when that's that's the one that that's the only thing about being full time. If you're going through a sticky patch as a full time football, you've got nothing else really to take. No, there's no escape whatsoever. If you get injured. Your whole focus from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to bed is to is what am I going to do today to get myself back on track to get fit. So you don't have that job that you go to for six hours in that day to take your mind off your injury. You know, you don't have even something paratime like it You know, if you were studying or something like that, that's, that's a real kind of, I suppose, probably draw from the full time environment, literally your whole life revolves around football. And I have to say as well, I'd be guilty of it too. In in that little bubble of football, like, in your head, you think you're the most important person in the world, like the people working in like, what I'm, I'm working in a pharma industry now, where there's directors, and you know, managers and things like that whose job it is to make a medicine for people to save people's lives. But when you're playing football, you're more important than that. Yeah, you know, there's no two ways about it, you're more important than any of those people. Because the whole little bubble revolves around you, and what am I going to do to get better? What am I going to do to get my next move? What am I going to do to become the PFA Player of the Year or the sports writers play the year? You know, though, that's a little bobble you live in, like I tired enough to describe. But when you've been through what you do, you do see it. And especially when you come back out of it, you realize, in a way kind of what a decade we can be, you know, because again, like my missus would have suffered, because I might say to her, I can't go to that event, you know what time is alone all the time at eight o'clock, you know, I can't go because I've trained in the next morning, and we're driving an hour to get there and like, and it's the same for the for the amateur sport or the amateur sport like that is that is Gator football commitment. And seriously, you know, so again, you get into this little kind of selfish bobble. And that was the real eye opener when I left to be honest, I realized that the world doesn't work like that. And it shouldn't work like that, you know? So that was all going on in my head. When I stepped away from when I stepped away from from it. And I actually it was a massive relief, I got a call coming. I was actually training with balls there just to keep sharp, supple, you know, say Do you want to come in and do a bit with us. And I did because there was no intention of signing around like that. It was literally just to just to keep keep sharp, and I was still looking to get something sorted. So I was on the way home and I got a call from my club, basically saying, Oh, we've got a game and I've flown tonight Do you wanna try to play because we don't have a keeper. So I popped in title on on the way home and played the game I've made quite well like so we have a pretty successful club, like in terms of in terms of to be a gold gold male club, like so and play that game. And from there, then I stayed involved in that for the rest of the year. And then at the end of that year, I would have been invited in for the trailer. So James Horan took over me again, he was ratified as manager and he has opened trials for any players that have done well in the club championship during that during that year, so I went to them. I must have done something right. Because at the end, obviously James came up and brought me into the panel. And it was looking promising for me to to not push on. In fact, I suppose in a different world for me because I had a lot to catch up on after 10 years out of the game, you know, the game changed massively. And the game is very different for goalkeepers hugely different. And to be honest, which I relisted for that year was one of the it was one of the best years we've had in the last couple of years, you know?



Yeah, like there's so many different tangents there that I'd be very curious about, like you have a person that experience full time football as well. You're probably going back to in effect full time ga really, particularly with the with the male scene, you're probably you're probably at that situation your career where you were probably relishing the new challenge he was it was new, it probably sounded like you were pretty peed off with a lot of things in the football world. And this was the freshness and you probably even from the little while talking to you you can tell your personality we just tore into something new and you want it to be the best example but how is how it's impossible question but how can you compare the two chords it's something that people compare obviously the the actual roles and the positions are while they're still between the next they're completely different. I think you're probably obviously there's a big difference even simple things like the football their physical illness the mindset really I know when the game is both games are evolving probably Gaelic football is probably evolved and more than football at the moment. Completely different learning curve to be in for you. How did you How could you? How do you compare those two environments? If it if it is possible, it's probably something you get asked a lot.



It's definitely possible. I think when you compare it to this is probably a few ways like I don't think that anybody who's involved in ga I don't think they give the League of Ireland the credit he deserves for the quality. That's enough. That's that's one thing I firmly believe in. I think like you said earlier on, ma'am. Delete Mike and get the exposure Some unbelievable games like, comeback to draw to the best atmosphere I've ever played in a bar called final day, because that's obviously, you know, a massive occasion and things like that would be the driver of Darby, like the home game, you're a game, like you're talking, you know, your hatred is just so real, like, you know, and you can feel it and it drives yarn or drives you to do well, like one of my good mates from literally just around the corner here where I live now, john mountain, he was playing for Dundalk, I was paying for dry powder. Two of us are from Mayo, you know, but like, I we both feel the rivalry, you know, that was something that like, that was something that was there. And it was really, you know, and going back to going back to the difference then like, you know, I do think that the the League of Ireland is kind of kind of not frowned upon, but you know that the noise can be turned off on it sometimes. But I don't think people realize the quality of the players. And I don't think people realize the commitment that is actually in the league of Ireland as well. On top of that, you've got the full time teams, but you've got paratime teams who are essentially full time teams as well as a full time calendar as well midweek. Games. Yeah, well, that's it, you're fitting your fitting 40 odd games into a into a 33 week season, like you know, including the cops and all that kind of stuff, like you saw your fitness series model, which then that's one of the differences in the GA calendar, you don't have anywhere near as many games in that timeframe. You know, you've won a week really, when you say the league is every week, and you have a breakdown in between, like the fourth week and the last week and the final. And then you you're we were straight into championship because we had the early game against New York. And then and pushed on for the rest of the championship and got to the semi final level. But with may or that year, we had more games than we ever had, because you had the qualifiers. And super, super reasonable because we lost the first I sorry, we lost that second game in, in comics. And it meant we had to qualify the hardware for the for the all Ireland series. So that year, there was more games, but that felt natural to me, you know, it might not have been natural to the GAA, guys, you know, because especially in a in a in a successful county like Mayo where, you know, you might win the kind of fight I know that have won in a few years. Since you know, this year is obviously the first in a few years. You're not used to going through that system where you have to play every week, whereas I was used to play and every week used to playing twice, twice a week. So I suppose there's one difference is the amount of games. And but what I will say is the culture is different. And like I say that, that's why you're where, you know, I come from playing for Athlone opted Rada. And then moving up another level to Slagle full time, I was moving kind of up the curve at the time. And then you had that guy coming over from Chelsea who was coming down the curve, but we were meeting at the same level, like, you've got that in, in, in football massively, you've got a dressing room full of guys with different ambitions, different stages of life, different kind of objectives, you know, you've got a young lad that wants to go to England, but you've got the hometown young lad that just wants to play for their hometown, you've got an the manager has to manage all that together. Whereas in GA, you have this group of lads that have a team are one objective, since they were kicking ball. And that is, firstly to get into that panel, then to be you know, be starting in that panel or starting on that team. And then to go and win an all Ireland like, you know, you have a complete change of baseball's atmosphere there straightaway. The culture already kind of bid there where the lads have grown up together, they play against each other and games, club games. They've known each other since since they were young, you've got some going on with each other's cousins and sisters. And you know, you've got all this kind of, you know, familiarity, and that's where that's where the real culture difference comes in then as well, where you don't have that in football, because like you said earlier, lots of moving on, you might have a guy for a year, then he's gone and you never speak to him again. You know,



ya know that there's a lot to there as well. And I suppose a lot some of that goes down to what we touched on at the start where I don't think the League of Ireland gets enough credit exposure, talking points in the general sporting and conversations as well. But I guess that time then playing for me Oh, and obviously the excitement that the was when that from that run and stuff like that it must have been like a kind of a rebirth back to your youth as well and joining that roller coaster. And how did how difficult was it to step away from that environment then?



Yeah, like, to be honest, I didn't I didn't actually step away. So it was it was a case that I was let go from the panel. Last year and I what I have to what I what I do have to say was if I was in any other county in the country, I probably would have had a better you know, another another shot out of because the caliber of keeper mail is really high in the two lads like, like I said earlier, the two of the best keepers in the country, I had 10 years away from the from away from the sport like and just touching back on the differences again, when you when you put the differences in is massively different, like you'd have less actions in a gala football match more so to be kickin, but if you think about, like even a training session, for example, you know, you do your small bit with the goalkeeper coach, and then you move into your, your games, you've far less exposure to the ball and games, whereas in a football session, you have so much more because you can deal with the back pass, you can, you know, you're you're used a lot more utilize a lot more. And again, you might have to make a save your ticket, make an order save the games, or you know, you play a lot more small sided games and training. And then the games on a match day, you've obviously the 90 minutes of kind of folio full interactive common for crosses through balls, the whole lot like, save, save, and then you're up again, and you have to do a couple of kicks and things like that, like you know, so it really is it's more kind of, you could be on for a night, 90 seconds to two minutes, you could be under pressure and a soccer match where you've got a couple of corners to deal with and shots and things like that. Whereas in Gaelic football, you know, you might have a busy little period where you'd have a couple of cakes in a couple of minutes or not, you wouldn't have as many actions I don't think, no, I'm sure there's someone out there who might prove me wrong. Like with a statistic, I don't have the statistics on how many, how many saves and that like I know, I think I remember we're kicking it was up around something like 30 to 40 times, kicking in a soccer match, I remember looking at the we would have got the reports after games that did and that was that was just dealing with the ball at our feet. And then you'd have another probably 10 or 12, maybe 15 actions with your hands. And then again, like I think I remember, I just remember my last club match was was like 21 or 22 kicks. In the game, I didn't have a single save to me. So it's just a small comparison there of what is I'm sure their stats to maybe back it off. And that was the difference on going back then to obviously the male setup. I needed to be playing games to guess that familiarity backend to get a bit of consistency and experience in the game because I suppose the way the manager was looking at it, I just come back up and play 10 year soccer. And I was doing probably well in the year but I wasn't playing club football. It was unfortunate. And that I wasn't really planning goal for my club like and that probably did hamper me in terms of my development at in with male because from the managers point of view he's looking at and saying, well, this photo is not playing for his club and board. There's another fella playing really well for his club. I'm gonna bring him in. So that's what happened in the in the end.



That's the usual debate though in Gaelic football as well. Isn't that you see, there were a number of different keepers that they are. They're obviously playing golf and intercounty setup, but they go back to their clubs, and they're often utilized outfield, you see, there's so many examples and and so it's I always, I always find it very strange. I have to say it was one of the things I remember as a kid growing up, you'd look at you know, you'd see an intercounty game, and you'd see Oh, there's the goalkeeper, and then you go to the club game. Oh, he's out, midfielder is that wing forward? And like, what the hell? How is this is happening, members. I just vividly remember being a cold game with my parents. It's one of those memories that always sticks out to me. And they were like, Oh, well, under the often. They're often the best player for the club. So they're pushed out which,



yeah, I don't think that was the case for me, though. Okay, I'll be the first to admit it myself. I probably didn't deserve to be playing outfield. I remember one game. I remember one game and I was picked to play outfield. And I actually felt a little bit embarrassed because, you know, I was I was training in England as a goalkeeper it wasn't as if I was training my close Novi player i was i was i was turning up to every session with the goalkeeper gloves on and doing the goalkeeper standing and go and obviously then being in male in with the county setup and, and planning goals. So I remember thinking and I remember just looking around I remember looking at the bench and those two or three lads on the bench who had been playing outfield for the club for the last 10 years and I'm starting ahead of them I'm thinking that this is rubbish you know, it's a bit embarrassing in a way and I don't okay in the game because it didn't i didn't look out of place but in terms of what I was good at it you know, like I said I'd spent so long away from the game it wasn't you know, I wasn't going to be as as good as other players have created you know, and without going into too much okay? I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses aren't like that and I don't want to kind of talk negatively about anyone but you know, the the was kind of a conflict of interest in the in the selection of the team was there. And that kind of spores led to is you know, you're talking smaller parishes and things like that as well. And where, you know, these things kind of, they happen. They happen all over the country, and I don't have any bad feelings. Towards the program that I love the club and to be honest with you when I left when I knew that when I knew I wasn't allowed to go it was still going to be an option for me to go back and play play for the club because like I said, I think I said it offline you know I was considering packing it in and after that so that all led to me obviously going back to Galway then last year and Murph To be fair, I tried to get me the year before when I was already in with male



team here there's a lot of little managers that have you on the radar.



Yeah, like I suppose around here like Murph Smurfs was merciless obviously a Galway, a goalie and a legend as a player but he's also a mailman too. And you know, I would have met him he'd be friends with a lot of the those lads I spoke to about at the very very start mercial to actually be friends with them but them lads that would have been kicking the balls at me and sending me home crying. So yeah, he got me back to back to go and to be honest with you, I signed autographs because he showed a really keen interest in me and really wanted me which I just didn't feel that I had since I've left label, I felt a bit like that. I hadn't, you know, necessarily been wanted anywhere. I kind of had to go and work for myself, you know?



Yeah, so that was it must have been kind of a strange time arounds. Obviously, there's kind of a little bit of excitement I'd imagine getting back in the football and calendar again, getting getting getting in that after the little little break away. But the first half of the season didn't really, I suppose mixed mixed emotions all around.



Oh, yeah. And I suppose I had had that decision to make again, like, you know, do I stay I could have stayed in Milan play Gaelic football. for, you know, I wasn't really going to get the opportunity. I need to die if I had been, you know, guaranteed that I was going to get a fair crack out, I play and I'd probably gone and tried to get back into the male team through performing well, my club. That was funny at the time. Okay. Then the nurse came along with Plan B, as soon as as soon as I saw him. I knew I knew I was I was kind of backward where I belonged. And I missed it, you know. And it was it was the first time I actually thought about missing football since I left Lego because I just my heart was broken a bit with football. So I didn't kick a ball. I think I played in like a work five site tournament make just a 20 minute or 30 minute mess around during that year. And that was the only bit of football I played all year. And because I just had a break for it. I just didn't fancy it. I didn't watch football like I'd be I'd be a football. I just I didn't watch games. I was watching Gaelic football. I was watching the tapes that we got sent the video analysis that we got sent trying to learn about the sport that I had been involved so when I went back to Galway, I kind of fell fell back at home again, everything felt comfortable again, you know, because I've been working so hard at something that wasn't familiar to me for a long, long time. And it was a bit rusty from the cobwebs are there. But then I went back to this and we played a game actually with the PFA over in Rochdale. That was where that was where I knew that was where I knew I had to go back. So aside from her and like you said we didn't get the best status of the season then we we lost the first game and then we drew down in Wexford. And then we were due to play cabinteely actually we sorry we we drew clinching in Wexford. And then we had a clean sheet and a win against Athlone in the League Cup. So we were going into the cabinteely game with actually a bit of you know a bit of form because we'd have to draw the nilar draw and then the wind so we were gone right season starts now and obviously then that all employers COVID hitch lockdown is we we had about two months no no train and put together you know, I would run in the hills of county mail I was like a mad I've never done I've never done kilometers like in my life and I never will again and boss it was something different and then when we came back from the lockdown we just couldn't we just couldn't get a result was that it's you know,



it's funny how it all comes together again ultimately I guess it was that they're defeated at Rada. That was the sad departure really because I always think it's hard particularly when a player that has given so much an easy club legend and I guess they like ultimately you if you take the cold heartless approach approach it was the right thing to do but it always saddens me in a live situation like that and particularly with someone like your circumstance as well that had kind of brought you back in you probably felt like you would have been locked you know? response definitely



did yeah, like and again for me I was powerless because when we came back from lockdown that time we first came back from the first friendly back, played Slagle in slay or and in the last minute it was a corner, and Carlton came flying into me while while I was standing and I Ended up rupturing my my MCA. And so I was I wasn't even part of the squad for all those games like I was I was on the comeback tray as soon as, as soon as I knew I was able to rehab I was a I was back I was back on the training ground doing my own bits and pieces. So I didn't have any i was i was helpless really to help them out or to help the team or I need that kind of kind of stuff I was just focused on like the kind of side I might miss the rest of the season. But having spoken to the medical staff and all that I knew there was a chance I get back. And thankfully I did I got back ahead of time, which was great. And God gotta play a role then in the end of the season and in that kind of playoff promotion push. So it was it was it was just unfortunate. I suppose I wasn't able to help out I was probably two weeks off to two or three weeks off the new Pep out of it was like you said I suppose the results spoke for themselves. We didn't win a game. And I said, Look, we we can we can probably hold our hands up and say because obviously players have always had a part to play in a locker was just one of those unlucky things that happens you know?



Yeah, you definitely put a lot of groundwork into where the new fresh approach really I guess when john come on come back and john Caulfield took charge it created a lot of excitement I think I suppose largely due to merit in exposing obviously, he created the biggest revenue goal we get into big name but nationally then as well, having such a big name back in the back with Galway, and look everybody knows John's passion for football and for Irish football as well and, and the passion that he's shown for that for the project there as well. And, you know, the real kind of I think he's approach really for football away from the Dublin regions for one to have a better word, you know, and pushing football in other areas. And look, that was a remarkable, complete turnaround. Everything went right. And it was a crazy result of winning games, some dramatic late winners, some crazy games, that six two in that loan where you pulled off that one disabled sit up there was one of the most craziest games of football I've ever seen. The winner were to cabinteely as well. Steven Christopher free kick 97th minute or whatever it was. Yeah, there was and then of course Bray Bray in the league and then off the field stuff and then come back in and you You missed the game the league game and Bray but you were back in for the the playoff semifinal in Braden as well and that was another great one as well because Bray and just narrowly missed out on the on the Premier League or sorry on the on the division one title and they just narrowly lost out even there's that little video going around where they were delivering the cup down to Atlona to get it ready for them and has to do a U turn and come back. But you come back in then and I suppose ultimately you're one step too short. Too far really long for it in the playoff first division playoff final work the tiredness kicked in the suspensions was didn't Christina was a big last thing as well. But that from someone from not that far away, you've had a crazy year of 2020 has been crazy for everyone but she'd come back in you got your love back. Well, it's all someone close to you. And someone responsible and probably will put words in your mouth someone that you felt like you deserve to, I suppose payback or reward for that faith or trust, and he loses his job then someone else comes in you come back in the team. But it's just one step too far then as well. A crazy crazy kind of crazy year.



Literally was probably one of the most like I think you hinted there the off the field stuff was like it was it was mental from from day one. And this year. Like I said from the lockdown, do your own math bits of pieces that you never would have done around your own house, and all the other kind of stuff then as well. As john coming in, to be honest with you, I was kind of I was okay when john came in because I'd spoken to john before a couple of times when he was at cork, I met him and and things like that. So I knew john kind of had to go there. You know, I had a good reputation and John's mind, I suppose, you know, he kind of he respected me and I suppose he held me in high enough regard as well. So, you know, as soon as I got back from injury, he showed faith in me and it was a funny one because you know, there was there was nothing really said I didn't speak an awful lot to john we didn't speak to each other at that much. Bosch he put me in for that game against against Longford and thankfully, you know, after our poor stache, we came good and we were really generous. We were really ruthless in that second half down in Longford probably worked against us and he had an extra bit of motivation in the tank then for the for the next game. But then, like you said, played played a couple of games on on the harp and missed out on the pregame but to come back in then for the for the last couple of games and then play the playoff games as well. And only you know, don't actually just before that was the break with COVID you know, we had to take the two weeks as always, there's always gonna be one club that stuck out at first I just happened to be us again just lean into the manager that it was it was one of our players that that picked it up and obviously we all had to self isolate them for 14 days missing out on training and stuff like that, to be honest with you probably led a little bit into the driver game you know, there was a lack of sharpness or whatever they're not taking nothing away sorry, from from dromeda they had their you know, they were they were wet on it and probably you know they definitely deserve to beat us that night as well. They were the better side. The delay went against Kabul, the delay went against Bray and then the playoff game against Bri as well. With delayed and off winner in that game too. I think the second time around against Langford, then it just kind of I think they got there. They got their game plan right there, their homework dorm, they knew they knew what they needed to do to beat us. And I thought they were very, very good that day. And they got went on and show them that they deserve to walk because they be chairs as well in that in that



playoff finals. Yeah, no, no, absolutely. It was a case of step two too far, really. But I suppose after that, then the things changed a lot more. So john has committed come in halfway through the season, as we discussed, but this is where I'm particularly interested in just to get It's a unique circumstance, you don't really get to see behind the scenes a good bit because john has come in. And for anyone that was not aware, he's pretty much implemented a full time football and scheme would go well, you know, that's his vision for the future everybody is going to be in every day. And it's meant that the side that we don't see a lot of guys like yourself and a number of other people who have other careers to supplement to pay the mortgage to do all the grown up stuff, all the ugly stuff to pay the bills about there's it has to be a balancing act with that there's only a certain amount of hours in the day you can't your work particularly now when we industry has been so affected by 2020 and Everton margins are tighter and tighter. So trying to juggle and I know spoken to a couple players like this about this similar subject as well, trying to juggle that life, important goals work and the joy of playing football or playing part time football or whatever, whatever it is. It's a very difficult juggling act to get right and particularly for the older players as well that are more concerned about the grown up stuff. It's different. If you're younger, you're free and easy out of college you can you can make that sacrifice a bit more you can maybe see as an investment. But for for someone in your situation like that. And I'd like I don't have awards anymore. But I don't think you would have enjoyed the world. You could have maybe stayed at goway if the circumstances and say what, how difficult is that job?



Yeah. Oh, look, again, I mentioned it earlier about when I when I left Strava and a full time job to go to Slagle it was, it was different this time around for me, because I was so many years down the line, and I'm getting older. And obviously, I can't make that gamble at all. And like you said, with the year we've just had, why would you? Why would you leave a steady job. And for the risk, you know, I had tried and I tried to work things around, like, you know, so I could make the morning sessions. But to be fair to john, he's ambitious. And he doesn't want to do things half hour. So you know, just just get into the session and go with it wasn't going to be enough for me, I needed to be available for longer in the day. And then obviously, where I'm located and mail, it's a an hour and a half, two hour drive with the traffic around Gaul and stuff to get to train. And so you're talking about either side of maybe at a sort of a 10 to two or a nine to three situation where you'd be I'd be even home here at how seven in the morning, going to go away and not get home again to four or five in the evening. You know, also in fairness and if you're going to do this do it right. And and but I suppose there's only a certain caliber of player or like there's only a certain type of player that you can actually do that with and I'm unfortunately not one of them. And because I have that job that I need to to basically pay the pay the bills and pay the mortgage or whatever, yeah, whatever you want to whatever you want to describe it, like you know, you need that you need to say I know you've got to think about the future as well you're not gonna be playing football. And I don't think the money is in this league for that 10 or 12 year guarantee, you know, whereas obviously full time employment you know, you have a steadier chance at that in the industry I am in as well. I think there's always going to be opportunities to to, to move on and and do better. So, okay, to be fair to john me and have a great conversation about us. It just wasn't gonna work in terms of what he wanted towards what I was able to offer him. You know, I was able to offer him that I wouldn't miss the training sessions, but I couldn't be maybe hanging around. For the video analysis or the gym session that might happen later on in the day, and that will be disruptive to be fair. So that's where we came to the decision then that I wouldn't be wouldn't be staying on. And I suppose Look, I also came to a financial point of view if if john was able to offer me what I was on to my job and maybe offer a two year deal, and that was again, that security's not in the league because you don't know if you're going to be allowed supporters next year, you don't know if you're going to be you know, what kind of sponsorship you're going to get after the 2020 situation Our company is going to have money to invest and things like that. So I'd say what he's doing is is is within you know, what's what's realistic to do and I suppose the target kind of player you're looking at then as the kind of younger player who will use it as a great opportunity to taste full time football or get into full time football and use them to move on and look I wish them all the all the best and all the success in the world except I obviously against



that those couple of games. But yeah, I'm curious to see like and I remember even messaged new around the time and like, you've obviously weakness, you've had some great successes, but in your career, but there's been the peaks and troughs that are the golden winners, the highs, the highs and low. When you get news like that, I know it's probably kind of half your decision in the way to keep obviously the square holes into into round circles there. It just didn't just didn't work out. But after getting your excitement back in the game to have that pulled away, and I know on something that you said earlier, where you're looking around, and there's only a certain amount of clubs, they want goalkeepers, etc. How Yeah, don't miss that.



It's something that was kind of expected to be honest, because again, haven't been around the league a long time, the rumors were there that we were going full time next year. And these were the plans. So I'd actually started putting wheels in motion with work. Before I even spoke to john to see what was kind of possible in terms of Could I basically, I had the range that I will go into work at two o'clock in the day and then work for the rest of the night or work for the rest of the evening. And then do my normal day after that. So yeah, it was kind of but again, I always joke as well saying that, you know, you're you're never in the middle in football, there's never a straight line, like you said, You're either sky high, high as a kite, full of beans, or you're, you're on the floor thinking, you know, I'm, I'm not going to be able to move on here, like you know, so to be honest, when I met you on the first my first initial thought was I'm finished, I'm done. And there's no option for me realistic option where I can play at the level I want to play, to be honest with you at the level of capable of playing. But without giving up my job where I'm based in mail, it's a it's a two hour drive to go it's a two hour drive so that alone or Longford but long for train and Dolan. So that's a three plus hour journey. You've got Finn harps who like from work would be a three and a half hour journey, you know, so I just don't have the options available to me really realistically. So my first thought was I've done I've done a lot of portrait and children things like that, my first thought was to look and try and maybe put that wheel into motion to go into something slightly different something that I could manage along with my job and you know, still be successful and still offer a lot I suppose the way I was feeling was firstly, I'm too young to finish playing and I still have a lot to offer somebody who wants to take a chance or you know somebody who shows faith in me and the second thing was then I'm too I'm too old to be putting all my eggs in the in the league of Ireland footballer basket you know, and leave a job like what I mean to to go to go away or to go somewhere else full time even if I was to even you know, it would be even a risk to move back to Dublin and look for a different job and play a part time with the club up there as well. Because the I suppose the cost of life up there is so much more expensive and things like that as well. And you'd be leaving a job during a pandemic where you might be guaranteed to walk into another job so I suppose that's just a snapshot of all the things that were a lot



of stuff going on in their head



so no luckily I suppose that's probably leads I'm just delighted to be started like you know to have have that option and when when cubs you're angry You know, I know cubs from before so I was I was always going to sit down and have a chat board as soon as we spoke I kind of got the feeling from that it was going to be positive and it didn't take an awful lot of negotiating or anything like that to get me over the line because I just want to play football like I said I want to finish I want to give one last last note and I feel like Atlanta is the right place to do that for myself.



Yeah no have to say my first reaction when I heard the news or heard possibility was like thank God because it is that our word was there waiting for me I was thinking like way too young to to have to go and yes I appreciate the environment and the way football in Ireland is it's so Dublin base that your options are available. When you factor in, you know, your lifestyle and your working conditions as well. But that has to be very scary thought I was going all in my head for you. So to have those thoughts you you said earlier you come home from games, you think about it, think about all the stuff going through your head, it must have been a nervous you know sort of time that transition from leave and go away to, to your signing without loan, a lot of student back and forth in your head. I



bet. I'll be honest, and say the biggest concern of mine about finishing playing football and retiring was what other people will think that is genuine. My biggest Yeah, my, my biggest, my biggest fear was, he's not good enough to play anymore. You know, he's, he's, you know, he finished off a slide or he wasn't good enough to play Slagle that time. He wasn't, you know, it things didn't work out a call away, you know, they don't want him anymore. And, and he's retiring, because he's not good. And that was genuinely what was kind of going through my head. And when I know, inside, geez, I have so much more to offer. If the league is was structured differently here, I'm sure I'd still be playing maybe full time somewhere if things that fall in the right place. You know, if I do, let's say assigned for Bray that time immediately after leaving slave or then all of a sudden, I was in still in the shop window for the rest of that season. And I might have been able to prove people wrong in that year. But because I missed the rest of that year, my stock dropped. And then all of a sudden, I had to come back into the into the First Division and thankfully, you know, Merce Merce gave me that opportunity to do that. But ya know, that was that was my biggest I suppose, period, I wasn't that I wasn't going to finish, I suppose. The other one as well as the fact that I had I've had a couple of injuries. Now a lot of them have been from contact in terms of, you know, that one, the MCU or somebody fall into my knee, I don't know, my ankle ligaments or if somebody landed on you know, stuff like that. And people don't realize that sometimes they just think guys, he's he's injury prone, he's cracked this, that and the other boss, if anybody saw the level of work I do outside of football to kind of, you know, counteract that. I suppose the Raiders, what people don't realize that. And again, I know this, and I know I shouldn't care what people think. But like you spend your whole life with your life revolving around that sport. And the sport that you put all your time and effort into you do your diet plans, you know, your write down every day, what you're eating, you're counting calories, you're doing all sorts of stuff that normal people just don't do for the I suppose for the race and earn the right to get on the pitch and play well. And people I suppose don't don't really see that, you know?



Yeah, I have to say, before we let you go, I'm a little bit not, I suppose taken aback a little bit like you were a guy that's in both codes, has gone to the top of the level, I'm sure you've heard, and the stuff being said to you, but in face to face or online and stuff like that, but deep down, it still is in the back of your mind, not a worry, but it's there thinking what people say,



as far as doesn't matter, wash, you've got those insecurities, aren't you like, again, going back to the not being good enough prior to, like, you know, not being good enough to be in the mail, to be honest, not being good enough to play with your club. You know, I was like, in the manager's mind, of my of my club, at home place where I grew up. And I know, look, again, I know, I spent 10 years away, there's no automatic race for me to come back into that club. And just be number one. I know that I'm not sure but I'm not that self centered around like that. But the people will have nearly the, the ammunition to say, Sree couldn't even start for his intermediate Globe and Mail. What's he doing thinking of going to League of Ireland or you know, this kind of stuff, you know, and that's I suppose, where the where that all comes into it and where those kind of insecurities can build up because I've had those setbacks of like that not playing for my coping coach might not play in for me or getting released from Slagle now not being able to play for Galway Bush, because a slightly different circumstances, obviously, as well. But again, it's something that that a lot of people wouldn't realize.



Yeah, that certainly is and like, Yeah, no, not that you'd say, like everybody, I suppose reacts to different circumstances differently as part of my head that you you'd be so much that you develop that thick skin that you wouldn't even what someone say to you wouldn't even matter. But it's interesting to see that deep down, it's still I suppose every every action has a consequence and will be that variable or where or what that's been said to you or whatnot.



At the end of the day, when you're when you're a footballer or whether it be a Gaelic footballer, a professional footballer, your job is to entertain people. And if they're not happy with your performance, you're not entertaining them. So how can you not have that little bit about you that you know, kind of thinks about what they thought or you know, the did the support I club like me, or did they have you know, that kind of silly silly stuff like you know, at the end of the day you're there to, to play for their club. And I've been lucky enough that some of the clubs I've played for have become my club. And you know, every club I play for, I don't I don't care at the time I paying for them. It means everything I try and get as involved as I possibly can, in learning about the history and learn about things that have gone on at the club and being part of that culture of the club, which is really hard in the league of Ireland to to really grasp because it's not the same as it is in GA. It's easier to get sucked into the culture of the GA because it's so powerful. But in the in Iran, the clubs have to work harder to kind of create that atmosphere. Yeah, well,



yeah, no, absolutely. It's That's fascinating. I have to say before we let you go then of course it is back to Athlone preseason won't be too far away. Nice, nice little memory and hold in your in your head there. And it's going to be a manic season ahead. And obviously this the last season gone by just went on a good bit more than a couple more longer than expected given the circumstances. And it's great for us funds and media outlets covering the game we have a shorter window the season come back, but it's going to be more challenging next year. And for the players. It was already a dogfight of a of a league we've seen the teams that have come down I think you touched on earlier as well like cork and shells I've ever seen to bigger teams come down Come down at once. And then you look at look around the top of top of the league obviously Gabi fell short last year you Bray are still there, Kevin Taylor will be absolutely livid to come back. And so motivator given the way their season kind of ended and particularly with the the off the field stuff as well. So, so many times and of course I've flown as well. We have to throw them in the mix as well here and you must you must be looking for looking forward to getting back in not not the slugger preseason, but getting back into game.



The preseason, but yeah, I've been through a lot of preseason. I can't say I can't say there's a preseason that I've enjoyed.



No, no kidding, it will be I can't wait to get back into it. Like you said, they're like I think this is probably going to be the most high profile first division and not being disrespectful to any clubs now. For since maybe remember Darien car came down that time. But I'm UCD and go we weren't in at that time. And Watford were there. Like, I think you're going to have a really really manic like you said frustration on it. Put another word it'd be chaos. Because you're going to have the teams all probably eating each other. And I suppose I haven't actually spoken to you about this. I don't know what I'm allowed to say about Athlone. But like I assume we're probably coming in maybe a little bit under the radar and hoping to disappoint or sorry, surprise a few teams and disappoint a few teams with with good performance and things like that, and possibly try and just really be competitive, I suppose. You know, they're coming off the back of probably a transitions year where Atlona would have always trained and trained in Dublin for the last couple years. And even as far back as last time I was involved we trained we trained in Dublin one night a week and then trained in Athlone all together so I think there's a real culture of the club going back to the town there as well which was great to see facilities there are honestly you've got everything on site, you've got a town that's probably got a good massive football history, but also probably you know, when things are going well they will get the support you've got a college there that has a really good kind of a sport emphasis in college with facilities with success all that kind of stuff. And then like you've got the stadium with the with the grass patient you've now got obviously the all weather on the main pitch like it really is set up for for success and hopefully it'd be nice now to be the start of a bit of success you know, and like you said it's peaks and troughs so hopefully I'm through all the troughs I'm I'm a bit full so I'm ready for you to certainly do for that upper



curve again like you were let you go yeah like your your your start of your sporting career was so was so high. You're talking about played like an all Ireland final and then gone full time it's Lego, etc. And then you're more than a job there's been a couple of wobbles in between what what what a fascinating listen to have to say me all and a really eye opening experience, like even more I always needed to go back to your career but fascinating to get your hands in. So I appreciate your time. I think your dogs or dogs on the other side of the room or don't.



I was just gonna say Can you hear that? And I said I better leave her out otherwise because I'd be fiddling here and



Well, I think you've a bit a bit of your preseason starts there and they look like






We wish you the best of luck in your new adventure. We're not alone. We'll be bumping into you After games I say from a personal point of view what countless you could look against go away but the very best look and all the other games and the no doubt where possible. Thank you so much for your time.



Thanks for putting up with me for for this love.



Thank you very much.



No fairplay Cheers.

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