FOSF 24th Jan 2011
Friends of Sligo Football

The last few weeks the GAA family was joined in grief at the tragic death of Michaela McAreavey. The death of such a beautiful, young lady, who had so much to offer as a wife, daughter and promoter of our National games and one who possessed all the attributes any parent would be proud of has shocked and numbed the whole nation and seldom has there been such an outpouring of sadness and sympathy to both the Hartes and McAreaveys. The way the 2 families and friends carried themselves with such dignity was a great example to all and made one proud to be associated with the GAA.
Tyrone and Mickey Harte in particular have had more than their share of tragedies over the last 12 years and we hope the prayers and support of the whole country can be of some comfort to the families during the dark days ahead. Friends of Sligo Football extend sincere sympathy to the 2 families on this sad loss.

We wish best of luck to James Kearins on his appointment as Sligo Minor Manager. Friends of Sligo Football paid tribute to James last year on his retirement outlining his many achievements and we looked forward to seeing him back in management with a Sligo team so we welcome this appointment as James comes with a good pedigree as player and manager and it is time we enjoyed success at this level.

WE extend sympathy to the family of Aidan Richardson, who died recently after a long illness. Aidan was one of the greatest Sligo under age /college footballers of all time. His ability to use his height to win possession was legendary and he used this to good effect playing for Tourlestrane, Benada Abbey and Sligo under age teams. He was of course the
last minor captain to win a Connaught minor title and was desperately unlucky to miss out on winning an All Ireland minor title in September 1968 following a brilliant come back in the second half. Notwithstanding the bitter disappointment of missing out on that elusive All Ireland medal Aidan and Gerry Hegarty carried off the Cork minor captain- a
gesture probably never witnessed before or since on All Ireland day in Croke Park. Aidan was not just a great footballer he was a great athlete particularly as a high jumper and one wonders whether, with more practice in that area and proper coaching, if he would not achieve greater success in that field. I was privileged to have been in school with him, albeit a few years younger than him, and he was the man to look up to in every sense. He is now laid to rest in Rhue Cemetary a few hundred yards from his family home and joins his father, Shane who died only a few months ago and who was broken
hearted by Aidan’s lengthy illness. He also joins his neighbour Martin Brennan, who died suddenly before Christmas. Aidan and Martin’s brother Mattie were 2 top class under age players for Tourlestrane in the 60s. We remember the tough time Tourlestrane has suffered as a club in the last few months after the sudden deaths of Darren Gaughan and Martin Brennan.

We extend sympathy to the family of Kathleen Henry , who died suddenly recently. Kathleen and her family were immersed in GAA and sport generally in Tubbercurry for many years. She was of course an aunt of Sligo players Paul and Tony Taylor and Ken Killeen and her own sons Alan and Gary were find footballers.

We also extend sympathy to the family of Mary Gannon, Sandyhill Charlestown, who died recently – another good GAA and community family.

We wish Noel McGuire a speed recovery following his recent injury. Noel has been a great servant to Sligo senior football for 14 years and of course he was the inspirational captain when Sligo last won the Nestor Cup in 2007 and proved an excellent ambassador at the time.

Congratulations to St. Farnan’s GAA Club, who won two Connaught titles from in Scór na Nóg Finals.

Much has been written recently about the close season in the GAA and burnout and I would endorse many of the comments late last year in an excellent article by Tommy Brehony, who as usual talked common sense. It appears to me that the biggest burn out issue is at under age/ college level and in particular secondary school level. How often do we see 16 year old boys playing under 16 , minor perhaps u 21 and even senior level with football and Hurling teams. While this may be necessary in small rural clubs it is incredible when we see this happening in large clubs where an under 16 player is
preferred to an under 18 player for the minor team. The problem is often compounded by respective managers insisting on the same player being “put through their paces” when training is not necessary at all. Worse still some of these athletes are representing their school/ college in other sports such as Soccer, basketball rugby etc. The real solution seems to be to insist on managers working in cooperation not in conflict and considering the players welfare. Equally it seems ridiculous to prevent senior county players being prevented from training in December and then they are expected to turn out in competitive matches in January. Surely this is dangerous for the players and could contribute to injuries.

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