IN February of last year Gavin O’Mahony and John Conlon were among a group of inter-county GAA players that travelled abroad as part of the ‘Playing for Life’ charity.
Fast forward 12-months and O’Mahony was coach to a Conlon captained Mary Immaculate College side that reached the Fitzgibbon Cup final.
This Sunday the duo will again be in close proximity in the vast surrounds of Croke Park.
“I would know John fairly well and I guess we could end up marking each other,” said wing back O’Mahony
“I was in Ethiopia with him last year and worked closely with him in Mary I,” explained the Kilmallock man of his Clonlara opponent.
“If we are good enough and if we prepare well enough then knowing lads or being friendly with lads isn’t going to stop us getting to where we want to go,” stressed O’Mahony.
“We do it with the clubs - some of my good friends are on this panel and you end up making them in club matches and that’s the beauty of the GAA - that fellas can cross paths and intermingle without any trouble,” said O’Mahony.
“I know the Collins’ fairly well but its bragging rights that you are looking for - we will give it to them or they will give it to us, whichever wins at the end of the day!”
As a member of the losing 2007 All-Ireland final squad and a player in the 2009 All-Ireland semi-final, O’Mahony is anxious to ensure that no one takes a trip to Croke Park for granted.
“Personally I know that the week after the Munster final I was probably more agitated than satisfied or happy because I know there is a real chance here,” he outlined.
“Myself and another three or four lads on the panel really appreciate how seldom these chances come around - some of the younger lads don’t cast them a thought.”
He explained: “If you look at the gaps of appearances even in semi-finals they are fairly sporadic so its a case of making hay while the sun shines and hoping that we get the rub of the green”.
A member of the Limerick senior panel since ‘07 O’Mahony stresses that the confidence of the current panel is key.
“It was a release more than anyone when you get a reward for all the work,” he said of the Munster final.
“That brings its own belief that it is not impossible that these medals can be won and that there are teams out there that are beatable - in the last couple of years it has been hard to believe that and you can’t imagine success.”
Battling back from the league final loss to Dublin was the foundation for the success, he said
“There was a fear there that we were playing Tipperary in the Gaelic Grounds and could be sent home with our tail between our legs and that was a element we needed to avoid.”