Mellett won’t show Crokes any charity

WHEN UCC lined out against St Nicholas in the fourth round of this year’s Cork SFC, just 17 players togged out as they edged a two-point win.

Carrigaline’s Sean Mellett, who had kept goal for the College’s previous match against Carbery, was one of those unavailable on the night. While a J1 might have prevented the bulk of his absent team-mates playing, Mellett’s reason for missing the game is not a common one in GAA circles.

“I was in Zambia on holidays,” he said.

“My uncle’s a priest there so we went down to see him and I did a bit of work there.”

What constitutes summer work in Zambia is far removed from tending a bar or erecting scaffolds on the east coast of the USA.

“There are a lot of slums around there and people with different kinds of sickness live there so we went from house to house asking if they wanted anything.

“We brought down loads of stuff, a lot of our friends donated clothes, my father got colouring books from the schools and things like that.”

Different, but then they say that goalkeepers always are. For Mellett, his destiny was mapped out from an early stage. “My uncle, Denis Barry, used to play in goal in soccer, he had trials in England, and when I started playing for Carrigaline United he was friends with my coach and I was put in goal.”

Mellett played in goal all the way up on that all-conquering soccer team, receiving call-ups to Cork representative sides on the way. He was forced to make a choice when invited to try out for the Cork U21s at the start of 2010, but he acknowledges the benefits that soccer provided.

“Oh, definitely, you wouldn’t get much keeper training all the way up in GAA, bar someone throwing a ball at you.

“You need the skills alright to be able to go anywhere, but that’s improved in GAA. Last year, we [Cork U21s] had Ger Kealy with us, we barely trained with the rest of the team, bar a match at the end of training, we did our own training for an hour, it helped a lot.”

As did making his voice heard.

“I’m quiet enough, but on the pitch I wouldn’t take any s**t from anyone.

“I don’t mind throwing my body around. All the way up I was quiet playing and fellas would give out to me, telling me to talk more. I might go a bit overboard at times, giving out to fellas, but they wouldn’t take it personally.”

On Sunday, Mellett, having previously won the Munster U21 with Cork, hopes to win a second provincial medal of the year as UCC meet Dr Crokes. Having not been on the Sigerson Cup-winning panel as he was a fresher, he made the step up with ease when a vacancy arose as Ken O’Halloran competed with his club Bishopstown in the championship.

Spreading himself thin is nothing new for the second-year geology student, though he admits that it is not always easy.

“It’s been tough, going from training to training, you’ve a completely different mentality depending on what team it is.

“I’m used to playing for different teams since I was young, but it can be tough to keep yourself going. With the club, we were training from January until the start of November.”

Carrigaline’s year finally ended as they beat Grenagh in the Premier IFC relegation play-off after a second replay, the day before UCC played Monaleen. Such games are far removed from county senior finals in terms of preparation.

“You’re going in with the mentality not to lose rather than trying to push on and win. It was almost as if it came down to whoever was going to make less mistakes would win. At that time of the year, it mightn’t be the best football team that’d win but the more dogged.”

That is what he expects again on Sunday, when UCC come up against two players who helped them to county glory, Crokes’ Johnny Buckley and Daithí Casey, in Fitzgerald Stadium, across Lewis Road from the Kerry champions’ ground.

“A lot of the Kerry fellas would know what to expect from Crokes so they’ll be saying their bit in the dressing room.

“There’ll be more expectation on them than anything. It’d make it all the more sweeter if we could beat them right outside their front door.”

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