Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sam Maguire Comes to Boston

With a chance to rub shoulders with Graham Canty, Daniel Goulding, Terry O’Neill, and of course, the Sam Maguire Cup, there was not a spare seat to be had in Florian Hall at the Cork Gaelic Football Club’s celebration banquet last Saturday night. Sam took center stage and was busy partaking in photographs with practically everybody who was in attendance, as were both of the star players.

Cork Captain, Graham Canty,
and All-Ireland Final Man of the Match, Daniel Goulding,
 at the Cork Boston GFC celebration banquet.
Florian Hall, Dorchester, Mass.

Terry O’Neill, one of the Cork selectors, had a chance to catch up with some friends from his years in Boston in the late 1980’s. Terry was involved with the Cork football club while he was here and generated plenty of laughs as he related several stories from those days, from run ins with Joe Lydon on the sideline of Dilboy field to foot races down the Lower Mills end of Dorchester Ave. Graham Canty also had a stint in Boston when he was just out of minor, and played for the Cork Boston club in the summer of 1999.

Graham Canty addresses the packed hall with Sam alongside.

I was fortunate enough to have a chance to chat with the two football stars. Cork came through the back door last year and had to come from behind in both the semi-final and final to win their first football All-Ireland in 20 years. I asked Daniel about that and the Ovens native explained that this year Cork were presented with different challenges compared to previous years. “For three or four years we had gone up and found it hard to close out the game,” said Daniel. “Last year we were 4 or 5 up at one stage in the final. This year we were under pressure against Limerick and Wexford in the qualifiers and that stood to us. In the semi-final and final there was no panic and the lads maintained their composure to see it through.” I also asked about the kind of pressure involved when taking frees in the biggest game of them all, and pointed out that he had pointed three ’45’s in a row in the crucial stages of the final. “It’s all about routine when free taking”, explained Daniel. “At that stage in the game you are in a groove and after the first one (’45) went over I had the confidence to put the other two over.”

Corkmen Brendan and Mike Fleming with the Sam Maguire Cup.

Now that we are 3 months removed from the joy and euphoria of Cork’s victory I asked about next year and when you start thinking about the challenge of defending the title. Graham explained that each player is doing their own training program and players and management are staying in touch. The team will be heading for a well deserved holiday in South Africa, and when they get back in January the job of defending the title will begin in earnest. Both players expressed great appreciation to the Cork football club in Boston for the exceptional hospitality shown to them, as well as the chance to spend a weekend to celebrate with the people of Cork living here in Boston. With the cup doing the rounds around the gathering places for the Irish, Daniel remarked that he didn’t realize that there was such a crowd out here and also on the great sense of community that he experienced. As for myself, I can tell you I had a great night and finally got my hands on the Sam Maguire. Next September I’ll be hoping that it will be a Dubliner’s hands raising it to the roof of the Hogan Stand – though Daniel and Graham might have other ideas about that!

By Rory O'Donnell