Emmet O’Shaughnessy is a busy young man these days, busier than most young men his age, writes Peter McNamara.
O’Shaughnessy turned 23 earlier this year yet finds himself juggling the role of Mayfield GAA Club Secretary with junior hurling panellist and Research Masters Student in UCC.
In light of Mayfield’s success in the AIB Munster Club JHC final on Sunday afternoon, it would be easy for O’Shaughnessy to dole out clichés such as ‘Days like Sunday make it all worthwhile’.
However, O’Shaughnessy honestly reveals it is “challenging” to balance his position as club secretary with his personal life, even if it has been rewarding.
O’Shaughnessy is focusing on financial technology with a thesis due next year. In fact, his college commitments may lead to a secretarial changing of the guard for 2017 at Mayfield’s AGM next Tuesday.
Yet, the youngster has spent 2016 serving the club and, by extension, the area diligently.
O’Shaughnessy stepped into the secretary role this year as the club executive were struggling to fill certain positions.
His interesting story of daily commitments illustrates and reminds us of an element of the Association we so often take for granted – the volunteerism, as O’Shaughnessy explains.
“A lot of people are asking since Sunday evening where this success has come from, what’s instigated it, what’s behind it,” O’Shaughnessy said, reflecting on Mayfield’s victory over Ballyduff Lower in the provincial final. “It’s a combination of things coming together, really but all of which stem from the volunteering of people involved in the club.
“Not just those that were in Mallow on Sunday, but the volunteers that put hour after hour into helping the club develop on a day-to-day basis. And it’s not easy for the volunteers but thankfully we, as a playing group, justified their time and effort with a Munster title.
“The players and management, of which Seamus Lawton and the rest of the lads are doing a really brilliant job, will get the plaudits.
“That’s understandable. But to get to the point where a Munster title was attainable a lot had to happen in the background. Its important people remember that.”
Capturing the Nealon Cup should have a wonderfully positive impact on the underage groups within the club.
O’Shaughnessy revealed the juvenile section is also thriving due to an increase in playing numbers throughout the general vicinity.
“Eoin O’Mahony, our juvenile chairman, is doing a top job on the developmental side for our players. Eoin and his team have progressed that section of the club in a major way.
“Socially, housing developments in the Mayfield area has meant numbers are higher now and rising.
“That’s crucial, especially as we see, in rural areas, the opposite tending to be the case.
“There are more and more families about now with an interest in the club and hopefully that’ll mean further success will not be far away in the future,” O’Shaughnessy stated.
Emmet, obviously, is extremely proud of the fact he and his teammates are Munster champions while he also carries the flag of secretary.
However, O’Shaughnessy is a realistic sort, mindful of the commitment on his part. Gaining invaluable experience he may be, however, Emmet’s priorities are in order for the short-term future. His studies are due to take understandable precedence post-Christmas.
“There are a lot of thankless hours, that’s for sure. It’s like any other volunteer working in a GAA club anywhere in the country though. It’s not a walk in the park. It would be easy to say it is but it isn’t.
“I’m here strolling out of UCC taking a random call from yourself and that happens quite a bit, particularly at the moment. There’s a lot involved.
“There are lots of pluses too. I wouldn’t, in a million years, want anybody to think I’m moaning because I’m not.
“I suppose it’s a consciousness of the time people like myself and thousands of others in Ireland put in to drive their own clubs onwards.
“Do moments like ours on Sunday remind us of why we do it? Of course, but it is challenging at times regardless.
“I will have my thesis to concentrate on in the new year so I might have to take a step back very soon, actually,” he said.
Mayfield will now contest an All-Ireland semi-final in the last weekend of January against Calry/St Joseph’s of Sligo.
If the likes of Nicky Kelly and David O’Neill fire again on that occasion for Mayfield it is highly likely the northsiders will advance to the national decider against either Mooncoin or Lámh Dhearg.
And Mayfield in Croke Park certainly sounds appealing to O’Shaughnessy.
“The atmosphere in the club Sunday night was outstanding and we know we have a great opportunity now to reach Croke Park. That would be something very special.
“In fairness, ‘Mayfield in Croke Park’ has a nice ring to it. Imagine the Mayfield jersey in Croker? Now that would be class.
“We have a semi-final to play first though against the Sligo representatives. We’re not naive in the sense we’ll just expect to win that. Confidence is high right now as you would think, though.
“It would be unreal to be able to puck around at half-time in Croke Park. That, in itself, would be memorable.
“I’m obviously on the fringes within the panel but I’ll be first off that bench at half-time if we get that far.
“The thing is, Mayfield might never again have the chance to play at Croker so we must take the opportunity we have.
“We might be the only group from our club to ever play there.
“We understand that and will be determined to make sure it becomes a reality.
“It’s a good time for Mayfield,” he added.