My views on the GAA!
“My views on the GAA" will
be a regular contribution to the Newsletter where we speak to an existing Club
Member about all things GAA, about both St James GAA Club & GAA in general.
Who better to start us off than one of the current Club Presidents, Mr.Michael Collins whose views & voice, still to this day, command the utmost respect at any meeting, GAA or otherwise that he continues to attend. Michael moved to Castlefreke when he was about seven years of age. He went to school in Rathbarry, and as a young boy played for St James before going on to serve as Chairman, Treasurer and Selector to name but three of his posts. There is no doubt like many others in the Club he also did the jobs that didn't carry the titles e.g. filling the bottles, washing the jerseys, taking half of the underage Team in the back of his car etc.
Our chat took place in his kitchen on Monday July 8th at about 9.30pm. It is the day after a weekend in which Kilkenny have beaten Tipp in the Hurling qualifiers, the Dubs have beaten Galway in a "Leinster" Hurling Final & Cork have been beaten by our greatest Footballing rivals, Kerry in a below par Munster Football Final in Killarney.
Michael did the talking; I did the listening while his wife Nellie provided us with tea & chocolate cake.
Q; Michael, what is your first/earliest memory of the GAA?
MC; I suppose my first memory would be matches on a Sunday in Cahermore
Cross (Ross). I was only a young fella watching. I mightn't go to all of the
matches but there might be three or four games played. You could have maybe the
thirty fellas having a whack at each other.
Q; Who would be playing? Would they have 15-a-side?
MC; Oh you would, you'd have 15-a-side. You'd have Clon vs Ross, I can't
remember who won it but Tadgho Crowley who would have been Clon Captain would
have been playing. Another Clon Player had a patch over his eye when he was
playing. One day there was a bit of trouble between himself & a Player from
the other Team, I nearly ran away, I was only about five or six years of age
and I got the fright of my life. I suppose apart from those matches, i moved on
then, I didn't do too much more of it in those years, I suppose I used to
follow my Father around the place.
Q; Did your Father play Football, Michael? Do you remember him playing?
MC; He did. He played a bit but not much. He played Football. I don't remember him playing.
Q; When did you first start playing?
MC; I suppose we were always kicking around different places. I started off in Lisavaird school and came to Rathbarry when I was seven years old before I made my First Communion. We had a football in school between us, I remember playing with Timjoe Hurley and a few more fellas & we also played Hurling in school.
Q; Well, were you able to play? Were you any good?
MC; Ah sure, I suppose I played away alright. First of all though, when we were going to school in Rathbarry, Ardfield won the West Cork (Football) in 1946, they would have had Sean Griffin & all of the Hayes Brothers. Ardfield should have won it again two years later but they made a mess of it. Other Teams wouldn't know so much about opposing Teams/fellas at that time. I can't remember the exact details but Ardfield were due to play Newcestown. Newcestown objected to Rathbarry fellas playing. Then Ardfield found out something about Newcestown & objected to them. It ended up with both Teams being thrown out.
Q; OK, and so around that time, what would be your first memory of a Championship match?
MC; I suppose maybe before 1946, I remember matches in Campbell's field & also Frankie Walsh's field, up the hill from where the Pub is now in Milltown. T'was a good enough field, one side of it wasn't great though. There'd be some game on there every Sunday, Ardfield might play amongst themselves or Ardfield might play against Rathbarry there. You might also get a Team together from Hayes's Cross direction & a few more areas of the parish but generally the Teams would be chosen from within the parish.
Q; At that time, at an adult level, who would be the Players in the Parish that would stick out? Who would be the better Players?
MC; Oh back then, it would be the three Hayes Brothers, Patty, Willie & Jim. Patty was a fine Player; he played for Cork after playing here. Sean Griffin would have been packing it up around that time; he had played Senior with Clon before playing out here. A bitteen after that, you had Neily O'Donovan who was another very good Player.
Q; Going back to yourself, when is the first time you would have played competitively yourself? When would you have first put a jersey on?
MC; I suppose we were pushing on in age a bit, we were starting to leave school around 1950. Around 1953/54 when I would have been about fifteen or sixteen years old, I played u-16 Football but then between I'd say 1954 & 1957, they decided we'd have no u-16 or Minor Team. They put in a Minor Team again in 1958 but it was too late for me, I was overage.
Q; What position did you play in?
MC; Oh, half-back line, wing-back.
Q; Good man, which side?
MC; Yeah sure, it didn't matter, I'd follow the man, I could play either side.
Q; And what kind of a half-back were you? Were you a good defender? Were you good going forward? Did you have a bit of both?
MC; Well, backs were backs in those times. You watched your man; you were a back & that was it! Nothing like the present.
Q; Was there much hand passing back then?
MC; There was a bit of it. I remember playing a game west in Ross, we won the game & there would been a good lot of hand-passing in it. I remember Patrick Callanan was playing for us the same day & was marking a good Player from Ross. After the game, Patrick went up to shake hands with him and got a belt from him for his troubles. Patrick was a strong, tough man but no harm in him. There was a small bit of hassle but it was over in no time because the local Sergeant in Ross was reffing the game, the Sergeants would ref the games in those times. I suppose I would have playing u-21 in 1956 or 1957 because I would have been overage for Minor.
Q; God, that was a disaster that you missed out on those years, wasn't it?
MC; Oh sure it was, but at least I played afterwards, there was a lot of lads missed out alright. Timjoe Hurley was in the same class as me, he gave it up altogether probably as a result of missing out in them years.
Q; And what happened, Michael, why did they pull out?
MC; Fellas were fed up, when they weren't picked, they went away, they wouldn't play anymore. There was no continuity in it.
Q; Who'd have been picking it?
MC; Sean Griffin used to be picking it a lot of the time but done more harm than good because while he was a good man, he did everything good but he was teaching in Rathbarry and maybe a few of the Ardfield lads mightn't get on the Team then. Sure that situation wasn't ideal either.
Q; Ok, you played Junior until what age?
MC; Well i broke my hand when i was about twenty-five. I fell off of a tree doing the fool a bit before that and a bit after that i came down on it playing Football, the joint up my elbow; i still feel it to this day. I suppose from 1959 onwards there would have been a Junior and Minor Team again.
Q; Would it have been hard to get on the Junior Team then? Would there have been twenty-five lads going for it?
MC; No, there wouldn't. Early on in the Year you'd have enough but fellas would back out, they'd see that they weren't going to make the Team and they'd back out. There would have been no competition for places but about 1959/60 & for three or four more Years after that, you would still have a good Team all of the time.
Q; When did you finish playing, Michael?
MC; I broke my hand when I was 25. I played again after that but I wasn't the same. My ol hand was bad for a few years after breaking it & I suppose I was always a bit afraid of it after that.
Q; Were you alright/good/fair/very good? I mean your lads were able to play. Like Michéal was able to play, Maurice was a good player, I don't remember Padraig playing?
MC; Ah yeah, I wasn't too bad, I was alright in fairness. Padraig would have been the best of the three but he didn't put his mind to it. I remember him playing a super Minor match in Clon but he packed it in young. Michéal was cute, caught a bit in the size, same as myself. I suppose i’d be forever comparing myself against my Brother, Tom in Innishannon, he's about 6'5, a huge-boned man. I mean no matter what I’d do, I wouldn't be as good as him. But I’d play away fine, I was as good as any ordinary fella at my own grade.
Q; I'd say you're being a bit hard on yourself! If you were marking a fella, would you get the better of him?
MC; Ah, I would, yeah! I'd keep with him anyway!
Q; Any Winners medal in the cabinet?
MC; No. No medal. Sure when they won it in 1946, I was only in school at the time and sure the next time that they won it was 1980, that was after my time. I was a Selector alright in 1980 when Jim O'Brien was in charge of the Team.
Q; After playing did you quit GAA for a while; did you go training a
team straight away or what?
MC; Well, I suppose I was knocking around for a bit after that. I suppose between getting married & children, I suppose I was about 40 years old before I got stuck in the GAA again. See, when I would have got involved, Fr.O'Cleary would have been involved, he was Chairman, he was keeping the Club in check. Connie O'Donovan would have been Club Secretary & it was he who would have got me stuck in it. Connie was very good for the Club, had a big interest. Then his Brother, John would have stepped into his place & then there was other fellas joining up. It was always ran fairly good. We had the other John O’Donovan then as well. They were very good but some of them would have been too young & maybe not hardy enough but then Tom Galvin was Chairman for about 10 years, I suppose around 1965 up to the 70’s, I was knocking around with them then.
Q; When you went up then, were you approached, did you go up on your own steam?
MC; Oh you go up of your own accord, the AGM would be in Ardfield NS, like you’d select Officers. Earlier on you’d have a Chairman & Secretary; the meeting would go through them like that. But by the time that Tom Galvin came then, it was probably “chaired” better, there were more jobs but it was better planned out, we knew what we were doing. Like early on, before that you could have fellas doing jobs & they wouldn’t be too sure what they were meant to be doing.
Q; What was your first role?
MC; I was Treasurer with Fr.O’Cleary first. Then I was Secretary for a couple of years but I packed that up, lot of work to a Secretary, it all depends what you’d be doing!
Q; Who was the main man then? Would the Parish Priest be involved in the GAA in the parishes?
MC; Well I suppose, earlier on, Sean Griffin would have been the man. Sean Feen would have been very good. Fr.Holland wasn’t really interested. Fr.O’Cleary would have been calling the shots after that. When Fr.O’Cleary left, Tom Galvin would have brought a lot of good things to it. He would have brought a bit of officialdom to it.
Q; And Michael, when you would have got involved, would you have been vocal at meetings, would you have said your piece or would you keep quiet?
MC; Oh, I would, I would always air my view, you’d have to say things too. But you’d cop on a bit after a while & say the right thing at the right time & learn to bite the lip at other times.You’d be learning away all of the time.
Q; And were you training a Team then?
MC; No, there might be Junior Training twice a week, sometimes we’d have a trainer come out from Clon, maybe. I remember Tadgh Hurley was a great Trainer, he was fierce popular with the Players.
Q; Ok, onto yourself Training, did you have much of say in 1980?
MC; Oh, I did, I did!
Q; Who sticks in your head out of that Team?
MC; Oh, Dan Tobin was the man really.
Q; I know he scored well that day but was Dan not getting on a bit that time?
MC: He was, but t'was still he won that game!
Q; Would that Ardfield team be the one that sticks out?
MC; Well you see that team should have won that Championship two or three times before that. That's when Tom Galvin was with them but whatever was in it they didn't. His own Sons were playing and they were good players. That team should have won the West Cork on three, maybe four other occasions before they did win it. Cripes, there was something quare happened every bladdy time!
Q; What happened them?
MC; Ye're, a couple of things but I remember one time, they were playing
Championship and the matches then could have gone up to Christmas. I
remember one game in December was played in a gale of wind over in Dunmanway.
They were playing against the wind in the first half. If they had put their
mind to it, they'd have been alright but there was so much of a score put up
against them, I forget now how much, that they had no hope in the second half.
Definitely, there were three or four Championships that they should have won
before they actually did.
Q; Who were the best players on that team?
MC; Well Dan Tobin, Martin Connolly, the three O'Learys. They'd a very good team, should have won more though and were lucky enough to win the one in Union Hall as well but you see, we got the scores that day
Q; I suppose it's wrong to single out but looking back at it over the era's, who were Ardfield's best players?
MC; Ahm, James O'Leary was a good player. His Brother, Michael was probably a better player but James was probably a better man to have with ya, a harder man. Then you had Martin Connolly, a great centre-fielder. Dan Tobin was very good but sure there were several you could say. The Galvins, Milltown were good players, Padraig was the best of them but they wouldn't have been strong players.
Q; But I suppose, Michael, we're after jumping from the Hayes's to 1980! What about the 60's/70's?
MC; Well, Neily O'Donovan was a good ol player, the Hayes Brothers went
off, sometimes they'd play with St James and more times they'd be playing with
another crowd, you wouldn't know who they'd be playing with! You had another
fella, Stephen Tobin, he was a fine sweep of a player but he went to America,
he'd have been my age. Coughlan, they would have had a pub in Ardfield, another
good player. MF O'Brien in Ardfield, my age, a grand player, I don't know what
became of him but he was gone before I was twenty years old, maybe he went to
America. Tadgh Hurley was a good strong forward too. Oh but the best of the
whole lot of them would be Con Scully, he could have made the Cork team. One
time we played Skibb west in Glandore, we drew with them, should have beaten
them but were lucky to draw with them. The replay was fixed for the following
Saturday back in the same pitch but the Munster final was on, Con and a few
more went off to the Munster Final and Skibb beat us. I was playing that day, I
don't know what round it was, maybe a Quarter-Final, we had won the First
round. Oh but Con Scully was a fine player, he was power over the rest of them,
he was a powerful bladdy man. He couldn't give his all to it though. He'd play
away fine, sometimes he'd play mighty Football but more times he mightn't be
there, he'd be farming a lot of the time. He'd be fairly fit, that time they'd
be as fit as County players because they would be working away all of the time.
Q; What about the current crop? Does anyone impress you in the Football/Hurling?
MC; Ah, they’re good enough but they're nearly moving beyond it, maybe Kevin O'Brien if I had to name one. But to be competing at Junior A you'd want to be peaking at around 20 to 24 years of age. Ah you'll do fine, they're fine, they're all good players but they want to be doing it now.
Q; St James are currently playing Junior A at both codes. Are St James a Junior A Club? Are we punching above our weight? Should we even be a grade higher?
MC; Well, I haven't seen them too much recently, as you know I've been knocked out since April but I'm good now again.
Q; I know that but a blind man would see that you're on the mend. Did you see them last Year?
MC; Oh, I did, I did! They're fine altogether. I did think that when I saw them last Year though, that the grade they were in, that they'd want to be as good as they were on the day that I saw them. Whether they'll be as good this Year, I don't know, I haven't seen them; we'll have to wait and see.
Q; What was the last St James match that you saw? Was it Football or Hurling?
MC; I saw a couple of Football League games early on this Year and they were good but I suppose you wouldn't have the full Team for League games. I suppose when you're playing League games you won't have the strongest fifteen.
Q; Ok, i want to go back to your own memories. What was the first game that you saw on TV?
MC; I couldn't put a date on it. The first match i saw on TV was below in Nobb's where Breda Hodnett has the Post Office now. They had a TV, i don't know if they won it, i think, I don't know where they got it. We went down to watch the Match and there was a huge crowd below watching
Q; Was it an All-Ireland Final?
MC; T'was. I can't remember but t'wasnt Cork. Kerry were playing though.
Q; And Michael, the first big game that you remember going to?
MC; Well i suppose i saw Christy Ring (Glen Rovers) playing when i was about fifteen or sixteen, we got a spin up to the match, we went up in a van. Glen Rovers vs Blackrock. The Glen won it!
Q; Was he mighty altogether, he was?
MC; Well, i suppose, he'd have been pushing on in age at this time, i would have seen him before that day but the County Final sticks in my head. I would have seen him playing Football for St Nick's before that.
Q; We'll stick with Christy Ring so! Would he have been the best that you have seen?
MC; Well, there was a good few, Jimmy Brohan (Blackrock), he was a fine Player. Ahm, i suppose the great half-forward line that Cork had. Ring, Willie John Daly (Carrigtwohill), Josie Hartnett (Glen Rovers), that line across was a great line but later Ring was inside in the corner.
Q; And Michael, what was so good about him? What made him so much better?
MC; Just good at the game, he'd have the ball whipped to the back of the net while another fella would be looking at it, speed of thought, speed with the ball. Tis still in the Kilkenny crowd, they'd have it as well, they're away faster to get rid of a ball, to work a ball. Ring was like them, more cuter in every way.
Q; Would you say that Ring was the best so? Would there have been better than him?
MC; Well between everything, i suppose that he was. He covered such a period. He was probably playing from 1935 or '36 right up until 1952 or '53, I’d say!
Q; Ok, does any one Team stick out in your head over the Years, whether it be Football or Hurling?
MC; I suppose all of those Cork Teams that Ring was on were good. The Cork Football Team of 1956 were very good, they beat Kerry, i remember going down to the Munster Final in Killarney, t'was nearly 12 o'clock before we were home, we went travelling everywhere. The O'Regan's & myself with down with Jeremiah O'Brien, Jeremiah drove down.
Q; What Footballer comes to your head as the best you've seen?
MC; Well, i remember that '56 Team playing. Best Footballers? Oh, you'd be picking em all day. I would say Fachtna O'Donovan, Ross (Clonakilty), Sean Griffin was a fairly good Player. Nealie Duggan (Urhan/Lees), he played Football for a good bit, along with being good, he wasn't a fella that was good for only a short period. Eamonn Young (Dohenys/Collins), he played a high standard for a long time. I wouldn't be able to compare, t'would be very hard.
Q; And what about more recently, would any of the modern day lads impress ya?
MC; I suppose there's a big thing whether you are going to pick for class or a fella that reaches the headlines, we'll say Declan Barron (Bantry) he was as fine a Player as you'll ever see. There's different fellas like that now, they'd come up like and they mightn't stay around as long. The man born top of Croghna was as good as anyone of them, Gene McCarthy (St.Finbarrs), he was born & reared over there. I suppose Mick O'Connell (Kerry) was one of the best of them all, he was some man to field a ball & he often said that Gene McCarthy was as good a man as he ever marked. I'd say they liked each other & had huge respect for each other.
Q; Would you say a match in those days was more entertaining in those days or now? Did you watch yesterday's (Cork vs Kerry) match?
MC; I did, I did! I tried to watch it, i s'pose. T'was a dead loss. I make out your man, Counihan made a mess of it. Like, he definitely didn't play his best Team first & then after that he mixed up the whole bloody thing, Players weren't playing to the best of their ability because fellas didn't know where they were playing, they didn't know if they were coming or going.
Q; Do you think a modern-day Selector like Counihan has the comfort of the back-door?
MC; Oh, yeah! I mean they're playing to it, like! I don't know who they are drawn against but they're watching to win the match the next time.
Q; Do you like the Back-Door system?
I wouldn't be stuck on it right! I'd imagine that they'll have to change
it some way that they'll be able to play both systems. Maybe bring in a
knock-out system & maybe a League system as well with a back-door to it, I
don't know. The biggest trouble is, like, the old way with the straight
knock-out system there's too many Teams there which means that there is
Football on for the whole Year but you could be knocked out in the First Round
& that's you out then for twelve months again which is bad for the Player
& bad for the game. A fella knows very well that he's not going to improve
if he knows that he is not going to play again for another 11/12 months. I
don't know, maybe a League system for the weaker counties incorporated into the
Q; Sounds like a great idea! But if you were voting a Back-Door system in or out tomorrow, what way would you go?
MC; I dunno, maybe they'll come up with a better system but i think the straight back-door system is damaging itself at the moment. We'll say that match yesterday (Cork vs Kerry) wasn't full belt; I’d say Galway had a bit of it against Dublin as well yesterday, they didn't put their full heart into it because they knew whatever happened that they had another day out.
Q; Ok, Michael! The 50's, 60's, 70's & so on! When would you say that the GAA was at its best?
MC; Well, i don't know, I’d say t'was as good back along as it was in the 70's/80's or even the present day. You'd have a good match but before when you'd have the straight-forward knock-out, that was alright but I suppose you had fewer good matches in the Year. I suppose that wasn't good enough either, the current way, i suppose, spreads the games around. And then I suppose, another thing, since the "Troubles" calmed in the North, up to that you had hardly any Teams in the North but since things settled down, you have nine strong Teams which is after changing the whole thing.
Q; Michael. Since you were a young fella, if there was one thing that the GAA have done well & one thing bad to improve/dis-improve the set-up/game, what would it be?
MC; I'd have to think for a while about that! There'll have to be some way of giving; we'll say every team a chance. Actually, which was a good thing, which helped the games a good bit & not the top teams but the lower teams was like the time St James won the Hurling Championship in 2005, I mean they went into an All-Ireland and like other teams in different places, it brings up the ordinary common fella & gives him a chance of having a deserved big day with his Home Club . A lot of smaller teams might have one/two lads who were good enough to play higher grades, might be carrying the team & might have stayed with their own Club. Something like that is a reward for the likes of them as the main thing is that Clubs have their best players & that those players stay with their local Club. I mean you can have big teams, be it Nemo or Blackrock & they can make all of the big Finals, play all of the big games. The ordinary fella playing Junior A or B, whatever class it is, his Team comes up, it brings up his Team, they have their big day out, might be in Cork this year & might be in Fermanagh next year. I think the opportunity for the ordinary fella with the ordinary club is great with that system.
Q; Brilliant, well said! But what should have the GAA left alone? What have they changed for the worst?
MC; I could be talking about that for the day, one thing is right, another thing is wrong! Sometimes they go a bitteen too far with changes but through & through you have to do a certain amount of it to keep it going & freshen it up & i'd be in favour of that.
Q; What do you make of all of the hand-passing at the moment? What do you think of Donegal Footballers? What do you make of Graham Canty?
MC; I’d be alright with it! Some Teams like to overdo it a bit but I like it when it’s done well. But having said that, you’d still prefer Teams kicking the ball well. I mean Kerry there yesterday, Cork might have younger, fitter men but Kerry the way that they play the ball, they’re way cuter! Nicer style!
Q; What did you think of Croke Park opening up to the Soccer & the Rugby? Should they have left it alone?
MC; Well, I thought at first that they were going to open up all of the GAA pitches, I don't think that would have worked, they would have been fighting amongst themselves as to when/what would be played. But the way that they done it was fine altogether, opening Croke Park only worked out fine altogether. The GAA played away their matches and when the Rugby crowd played their matches during their time, it worked out fine.
Q; Back to our own Club, Michael. What do you think of the current
set-up? What about the new pitch? What about the hall? Are you happy/not happy
with it? Do you think that there was a need for it?
MC; I'd like to see different types of sports played there. Maybe the demand isn't there for the likes of Handball but I'd like to see all different sports being played there. But maybe the population isn't there in there in the parish to play all of the different sports.
Q; And what about the pitch?
MC; Oh, the pitch is coming on and it'll be fine altogether, a grand job and badly wanted. The other thing I'd like to say about the current thing is that I think that the Club Lotto is a great idea. It's hard to keep it going because this Parish is spread out all over the place, we have no street as such that we can sell tickets door-to-door. But I think that the Lotto is a great idea.
Q; OK, moving on! Michael, in 100 years’ time when we're both dead and gone, what do you think the GAA will be like in Ireland? What will the GAA be like in Ardfield/Rathbarry? Will it be much the same?
MC; It probably will, I'd say. T'will be alright so long as they don't bring some new thing in and mix it up too much.
Q; What do you mean? Like bringing bits of Aussie rules into it or something?
MC; Yes. Neither of the sports would get anywhere then.
Q; But sure the whole thing is flying it at the moment, isn't it?
MC; Oh sure this going great. Only thing is sometimes fellas might get too much of it. Like, if a fella is playing Junior A Football now he'd be happy but it's hard going playing two codes of Junior A especially in a parish this size, it's hard to get the team going right, a fella would want to be very fit and very well trained.
Q; Do you think more or less separate squads would be better? Like the Football panel being a different one to the Hurling panel?
MC; Yes, ideally that would be great, you'd have a more compact better set-up but obviously the population isn't there for that.
Q; As we're on the subject of "small parish". What springs to your mind when I mention the word "amalgamation"?
MC; The trouble with the size of St James club is that a bigger Club will swallow us up, that's what happened before when we joined up with Ross, Ross swallowed us up. There'd be maybe five or six lads get a game but the rest would be forgotten about.
Q; What about the likes of our underage that are struggling with numbers? The u-16's couldn't field a team in the Hurling Championship. What about the likes of them?
MC; I'd imagine smaller teams like 10-a-side, 12-a-side, bring it in so lads could play away with their own Club.
Q: Do you think that they should bring back the U-12 Championship?
MC ; Oh they should of course! That should definitely be brought back for the young fellas.
Q; Is there anything that drives ya daft about the GAA?
MC; Oh, there'd be a pile of things but you'd forget about them again.
Q; Yeah, but is there anything that would make you say "I don't like the way that’s done, if I was in charge, I'd do it differently"?
MC; Ye're, nothing too much, you'd get used to it and get on with it. That's the way it goes. I remember picking teams, some fellas wouldn't get picked. You'd be picking lads away but you'd know very well that there'd be two or three good lads to come onto the team and then you'd pick them. I had right trouble one time, I was picking a team and one of the lads had a bit of mass in himself, I put him in a particular position where I felt was his best and he was the right man for it. But he thought he should be midfield. He nearly went for me!
Q; But sure you don't regret that, do ya?
MC; No, I don't, not a bit!
Q; Is there anything that you regret from your time?
MC; No, I didn't take any notice of it. I seen lads’ f-ing and blinding. Players that think they are right, Mentors that think they are right. You'll have a bit of that stuff but sure you'll get over it.
Q; When you look back and I know that you are proud of your involvement, what do you look back at with most pride and say "I brought that in" or "I did that"?
MC; Well, I suppose the house, the dressing-room; there was only bushes there before that. I know I had trouble even to get them in. Ye're, there was a bit of show about it but we were lucky, we had a bit of funds, we got it going and sure once t'was in they were delighted with it. We had an old bus before that, but t'was dangerous, t'was all broken glass on the ground.
Q; Were you the man that got them in? Were you Chairman at the time?
MC; Well, there was a few more as well behind it but Yes, I was Chairman at the time. To get the bladdy thing going was the thing but we got it going.
Q; In your time, was there ever a time that ye thought that he'd have to pull out? Were ye always able to put a Team out?
MC; Yeah, we often had to ring the Board to tell them that we wouldn't have a Team. I remember one game in particular, the Board told that us that the game was fixed for the following Sunday and we had to play it. We told them that there was no point in fixing it as we wouldn't have a Team. Anyway, we were all going to be fired! Anyway, we had no Team on the day but they left us back in. We were tough enough for them and it just passed away but Sean Barry and the bosses were very much in charge then, we didn't have much power.
Q; Michael, how do you think the rest of the region look at St James as a Club? Do they look on us a well-run Club? Are we a respected Club? Do they see us as a "small" Club? Do they count us at all?
MC; Oh, I think that the St James standing is as high as it's ever been, Liam Evans is a mighty man and has established himself well there, he doesn't throw his weight around at the same time but he's sound out and knows what’s happening all over the GAA in West Cork. He's working away, knows how the likes of the Grants work and he knows how to handle people. All the Clubs know of his experience and that stands to the Club.
Q; On that note, Michael, lads like Liam behind the scenes, over the Years! Who else springs to mind that kept the Club afloat/ticking over?
MC; Ah sure, loads of em. Sean Keane, long ago! Danny Calnan, long ago, good lads to keep the show going. You'd be sure that they'd be there anyway to keep the show going. A lot of lads had no interest in playing but they'd be just as keen and you had to have them. In those days the strength of a Club, in the 1950's was different, two or three lads would keep it going, you wouldn't need as many lads. I remember the first Year that i was involved, we had £25 & we bought three jerseys for less than £1 each.
Q; And where did the other jerseys come from?
MC; Ye're we'd have them already, a few might be gone astray but we might have thirteen or fourteen jerseys. Maybe two footballs as well, remember we had no Hurling then.
Q; Would you still be passionate about it today?
MC; Oh I would, I would!
Q; If there was a game on TV of a Sunday, would you still watch it?
MC; Oh God, I would! Sure if it
was on TV, sure I’d have to watch it!
With that my interview ended, we chatted about other things for another few hours but we had thrashed everything out reg GAA. What was evident about how Michael spoke about his own Club & the GAA in general was his love for the game & St James is still as strong as when he was a young lad. Sincere thanks to Michael for his honest views & interesting thoughts throughout our chat.