In this week’s Secret Junior Football column, our man pays tribute to the success of Ballynanty Rovers.
So there I was, really enjoying the midweek games and looking forward to catching up on lost time after all the cancellations earlier in the year and the referees strike again.
Or is it the LDMC refusing to talk to them? Or is it the FAI? Or is it the Easter Bunny?
But none of that can overshadow the results over the weekend when Limerick Junior Soccer gained not one but two places in the finals of two major cup competitions – possibly three places if Shane Clarke FC overturn Ballynanty Rovers’ opponents in next month’s FAI Junior Cup final, St Michael’s of Tipperary Town.
First up, Ballynanty Rovers achievement cannot be overestimated. I’ve seen them play twice this year and, as Mike Aherne said on his broadcast on Sunday, they’ve had much better teams in previous years but this year they have shown the sheer bloody mindedness and above all, the togetherness needed to barge your way into the national consciousness.
Again, I want to accentuate the positives here and eliminate the negatives so I won’t go into how money can buy you mercenary players but it can’t buy you a team. That aside, even though I didn’t see Ballynanty’s game on Saturday night, you only have to look at the reports and reactions from those who were there to know that though this may not be vintage football being played by the northsiders, but by god do they play for each other.
Without doubt there’s probably been punches thrown and rants raved on the playing pitch and on the training pitch but that happens everywhere and if the players didn’t care, it wouldn’t happen.
Not only that but the squad they have seems to be made up of long-time Balla players who have achieved their dream of getting to the showcase of junior soccer with their mates, the players they’ve trained and played alongside for a decade and more and that’s priceless.
Woven into the fabric of that squad are the young, local lads who are surely bewitched by the players around them and you would hope that the future of the club is safe in their hands.
Not forgetting Geraldines, a proud club that has cut a path through the premier division this year, reaching a Munster Junior Cup final, blitzing a strong Clare side in Newmarket.
So for all the antics between the league and the referees and the rain and all the other negatives this year, can ANYONE from the LDMC stand up and stick something in the paper, on the radio or hire the plane with the banner off the Man Utd fans and PAY TRIBUTE TO THE CLUBS, REPRESENTING YOUR LEAGUE, WHO HAVE ACHIEVED SO MUCH THIS YEAR.
Next week, Easter awards!