Limerick Chief Supt and son prepare for Munster final battle

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

Chief Superintendent David Sheahan, and below, his son Conor who plays with Ballygunner
HE is the first officer of law and order in Limerick but come 2pm on Sunday, Chief Superintendent David Sheahan will be hoping a small cohort of Limerick men come under serious attack from their opposition!

HE is the first officer of law and order in Limerick but come 2pm on Sunday, Chief Superintendent David Sheahan will be hoping a small cohort of Limerick men come under serious attack from their opposition!

The son of the most senior garda in the Limerick Division plays with Ballygunner of Waterford who face Na Piarsaigh in Sunday’s Munster final in Semple Stadium, Thurles.

Conor, 21 is in his third year at Mary Immaculate College where he is studying to be a primary school teacher.

“There won’t be any divided loyalties,” jokes his father, Chief Supt Sheahan, this week ahead of Sunday’s clash.

“I am expecting a very strong game. Na Piarsaigh beat Ballygunner four years ago and in many ways I think there is probably a bit of revenge to be had. This is a Munster final and I think it is going to be very close. There will be nothing between the two teams.”

A native of Wexford, Chief Supt Sheahan, who moved to Waterford in 1997, is a passionate hurling man with an impressive CV, both on and off the pitch.

He played in Croke Park in the club All-Ireland final of 1987 with Rathnure of Wexford against Borrisoleigh of Tipperary. The Tipperary champions came out on top that day.

“We didn’t perform. We were a bit like Kilmallock last March, we had great aspirations going up but, unfortunately, we just didn’t perform on the day.”

And he played with Wexford in the All-Ireland minor hurling final back in 1980.

Nicky English and Ken Hogan were starring for Tipp that day.

“We didn’t realise it at the time but we were among the elite,” he smiles.

Come Sunday, he will be in the stand at Semple Stadium, hoping Conor and his Ballygunner teammates do the business.

Chief Supt Sheahan has more authority than most to give an assessment of the squad having coached many of the players since they were six and seven years of age.

“I’ve been an avid follower of GAA for a long time – particularly hurling but I love all sports. I have a new insight into rugby since I came to Limerick,” he says.

“I have been with Ballygunner since I moved to Waterford back in 1997. I have been involved with underage teams. We brought two U-14 teams to Feile.”

Despite the immense responsibilities that come with his day job in An Garda Siochana, Chief Supt Sheahan has ensured that he has maintained his links with Ballygunner, who are known as The Gunners. He is currently a selector with the local Intermediate team.

“With the job that I have, it can be hard to get home and give it the time that is required. Even in those early years I would have been commuting from other counties. But I am passionate about the GAA and I know the good it does. The value of it is immeasurable. A lot of people underestimate the value of sports, particularly of team sports whereby young people can congregate and make friends for life - it really puts them on the right path going forward.

“I have to say I have a strong admiration of sporting organisations and communities and how they can help us in our job as well in keeping people off the streets.”

In terms of Sunday’s clash, the chief superintendent has certainly done the groundwork and background checks in terms of what to expect from the opposition.

“I have seen Na Piarsaigh a couple of times and I had the honour of being at their annual dinner dance as well. I know a good lot of them. My overall impression is that it is a club that’s well run and a club that’s very driven by the success that can be achieved when people pull together.

“Na Piarsaigh is a star-laden team. You can start at number one and go all the way to number 15. They have serious strength and depth. All the younger people will be looking to the likes of Shane Dowling to see will he perform again on the day .

“It’s going to be very tight,” he continued before citing the loss of intercounty starring brothers Philip Mahony and Pauric Mahony as a big blow to the Ballygunner side.

Conor, meanwhile, who has played in a number of Ballygunner’s games this season and came on in the Munster semi-final against Glen Rovers of Cork to score a screamer of a point, will be hoping the force will be with the men of his native parish on Sunday as opposed to his adopted city.

“He is very friendly with a number of the Limerick U-21 team - the current All-Ireland champions and he would be in college with a few of them as well. That’s the strength of the GAA and has been for years - he has friends from Limerick that he will have for the rest of his life,” smiles his dad.

Meanwhile, BoyleSports have Na Piarsaigh at 2/5 to take the Munster crown, with Ballygunner at 7/4. Na Piarsaigh are joint favourites at 9/4 with Cuala of Dublin to take the All-Ireland club title on St Patrick’s Day. Ballygunner, meanwhile, are third favourites to win the competition outright at 11/2.

Sunday’s Munster final will be broadcast live on Limerick’s Live95FM from 2pm. There will be deferred coverage of the full match on TG4 from 3.30pm.