A footballing education


A footballing education

Perhaps so, but given 14 of the Macroom side who lined out in the semi-final win over Valley Rovers passed through his capable hands at De La Salle, Dunne’s imprint is much larger than he lets on.

Boasting no more than 300 pupils, the school has established itself as one of the heavyweights in the Corn Uí Mhuirí competition; three finals have been contested in the past seven seasons, including outright success in the spring of 2006.

“The success the lads have enjoyed at De La Salle has been crucial to the club’s fortunes of late,” stressed Macroom centre-back Fintan Goold.

Dunne prefers to describe it as a mutually beneficial relationship.

“A lot of these lads who are playing with Macroom were playing football long before they came to De La Salle. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement whereby we help them a little and they help us a lot.

“They allow us the use of their facilities and we help their players in any way we can. It is a happy association.”

Again, the principal sells himself short.

“Winning is a habit and that is what these guys have picked up at that school,” continued Goold.

“You came out a better footballer from De La Salle Macroom than when you first walked through those doors.”

As noted, only in more recent times has the yellow jersey proven a match for the St Brendan’s and Coláiste Chríost Rí’s of this world. Dunne, however, claimed the school’s footballing tradition stretches back to the early Forties.

Success may not have been forthcoming, but if you went to De La Salle Macroom, you went to play football.

In the mid-70s the school started to climb. A Munster Colleges C title was annexed, the B crown secured in the ensuing years.

In 1978 De La Salle’s senior outfit, under the guidance of Dunne, set sail on their maiden voyage in the Corn Uí Mhuirí.

“We were always tight on numbers as you can imagine.

“The advent of transition year, however, kept lads in school for six years rather than five. The net result of that was we had lads playing football a year longer. That gave us a better chance.

“We went all the way to the final in 1978 where we met Coláiste Chríost Rí. Colman Corrigan was on that team, Sean Buckley was our captain. Paddy Murphy, father to Ciaran, was centre-back. Leo Goold, father to Fintan and David, was another prominent player for us in the mid-70s.

“It was close up to the third quarter, but then we lost Dan McSweeney through injury and the game changed after that.”

The semi-final was reached the ensuing spring, the quarter-final the year following. Alas, success was not to be theirs.

Fintan Goold wore the yellow jersey from 1998 to 2004, but was just another student to live through the famine.

“Regardless of what you won, you got a great grounding of football during your time there. Brendan Conneely is an institution in there. Conor O’Shea from Newmarket, Sean Buckley, Macroom’s adopted son. They are hugely passionate about the game and gave you a great education.”

Throw in John Murphy, Eric Graham and Fergus Ryan and you quickly get a sense of those serving diligently at the coal face.

In 2006, the summit was finally reached.

“It was coming,” asserted Dunne. “We had won at U16-and-a-half two years prior and we knew there was the makings of a good senior team.

“St Flannan’s had caused an upset when they beat Tralee CBS in the semi-final and we beat St Fachtna’s Skibbereen in the second semi.

“Sean Kiely, wing-back this Sunday, was midfield that day. He had a great game. Rory Buckley was at wing-back, you had David Goold at corner-forward. It was a marvellous win.

“We were beaten by two points in the All-Ireland semi-final by the Abbey from Newry. There was a sense of a missed opportunity.”

The conversation turns to 2010 and Dunne’s voice takes a sterner tone.

“We were very unlucky that day against St Brendan’s Killarney. It was a disputed free and a disputed point at the end of the match. Another day we might have won the game, but you have to take the rough with the smooth.

“Even though we lost, the experience of playing in a Corn Uí Mhuirí final stands to the players. Not alone does that benefit the players it also benefits the clubs.

“After winning in 2006 those lads went on to contest two successive county U21 finals with Macroom. They now form the backbone of this intermediate team. Hopefully, a senior one next year.

“There is an old saying that a rising tide lifts all boats and if Macroom were to get up senior it would benefit us hugely here in the school. All credit to the clubs who put such an effort into developing these players.

“All we’ve to do is weld them into a school team”

Once more selling short his endeavours.

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