Had things been different, Michael Quinn could well have found himself preparing for round nine of the AFL this week rather than a Leinster Championship clash with Laois.
But the Longford man is unencumbered by regrets as he looks ahead to Sunday.
An acknowledged GAA star in the making up through the underage ranks, he put pen to paper with theEssendon Bombers in 2008 and drew superlatives from the late Jim Stynes when breaking Martin Clarke’s record as the quickest GAA convert to appear in a league game. By the end of year three, the lure had lost its lustre. Released from his contract, he decided against adding his name to the end-of-season draft, thankful for the opportunity Aussie Rules had offered but armed with the knowledge it was not all “bright lights and interviews”.
“A young guy always wants to play professional sport,” he said, “be itsoccer or rugby or whatever, and I was the same. It’s a lot tougher than people think. You need to know what you’re letting yourself in for before you go. That’s probably the hardest thing for Irish guys going over. They don’t realise the full story before they go. At the end of the day, it’s a business and if you are not doing your job they’ll let you go. You are employed by them and you have to realise that.”
A composed and considered speaker at the young age of 22, he is now working with primary school children for the Leinster Council and the GAA would do well to make as much use of Quinn off the pitch as Longford on it. A full-forward for the county minors before he left for Australia, Glenn Ryan has re-deployed him at centre-back where his physique,intelligence and footballing ability have augmented Longford’s traditional attacking values, while shoring up a perennially suspect defence.
“We haven’t conceded as many goals,” he said.
Longford still have a tendency to punch in with one good half and one not too good but their old issues with consistency are nonetheless coming together. The days of beating a biggish team and losing to a relative minnow seem to be fading away.
Longford football is improving,” he stressed, “and we have a good team and we’re on the up. As one of the sides from a so-called weaker county, that’s one of the main things, amentality. It’s probably our mentality that has changed. Belief is another.
Longford have threatened big things in seasons past and failed narrowly to deliver. Last summer was the perfect case in point with an undeserved defeat by Laois in Portlaoise and a close-but-no-cigar follow-up in the qualifiers against Tyrone.
Promise is all well and good but leave it lie for long enough and it begins to lose its currency. Laois are a shadow of the side that threatened great things in the early to mid-Noughties and their slide may well continue in Pearse Park.
“Everyone is saying it will be a help being at home, but you have to perform and put in the work rate. Once we have that, hopefully the result will go our way. It’s something we have looked at from the start of the year and hopefully we can carry that consistency.”
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