‘It was the right decision for me’ – 14 senior seasons, Connacht glories and the best forwards in Gaelic football

September 21, 2021 0 By HearthstoneYarns

AFTER 17 YEARS lining out for county teams, 14 seasons as a fixture in a senior setup and a member of two Connacht triumphs, Seán McDermott officially cut the ties that bound him with Roscommon football yesterday afternoon.

Seanie McDermott made his championship debut for Roscommon in 2005.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

For the 34-year-old, it ultimately felt an appropriate juncture at the dawn of the 2009 campaign to depart.

“I found it quite difficult last year after opening the business (Seánie Macs Barber Shop in Ballaghaderreen) to fit everything in really. The other factor was that it was just really and truly a good time for me to move on in life.

“A few months back Anthony (Cunningham) had made contact with me and so had Ian Daly in relation to coming on board. They were anxious for me to stay on for another year. I did give it a lot of hard thought but I suppose I had to make the decision for myself more so than Roscommon. It was the right decision for me.”

He walks away as one of the longest serving members in the county arena and with a considerable body of work behind him.

Between the May 2005 meeting with London and the August 2017 replay clash with Mayo, he was a constant name on the starting teamsheet.

The swansong came against Dublin in the Super 8s last summer with the finally tally standing at 178 (49 championship and 96 league) senior outings for his county.

End of an era. What a servant @SeanieMac84 has been for Roscommon football. Always set the standard. Brilliant teammate and we had great craic along the way. Enjoy retirement👏👏👏👏👏 https://t.co/WLHpcmJeiu

— Cathal Cregg (@cathalcregg) January 6, 2019

Source: Cathal Cregg/Twitter

“You roll with the times. I remember starting out in 2005, I was just delighted to get an inter-county call-up and make my debut. As the years went on, you could just see the level of dedication it was taking to keep playing football. No doubt that it has risen from 2005 to present.

“Really and truly it’s just a lifestyle change, that’s what it was for me for a lot of years. But to be honest it wasn’t really even that hard for me to play inter-county football because it was just the lifestyle that I enjoyed and loved.”

A pair of summer afternoons jump out when compiling his highlights package. The first Connacht title in Castlebar in 2010

“It was special because it was my first. I came on the scene in 2005 and the first few years with Roscommon were very tough years. There was a large turnover of players and Roscommon football suffered. It wasn’t really until Fergal O’Donnell came on board in 2009 and lifted things in Roscommon. He put a lot of work into it and that’s what got us across the line in 2010.

“We actually had got relegated that year, it’s kind of unheard of a team in Division 4 winning a provincial title. We were unlucky in the league, we lost nearly every game by a point or two. Sligo I don’t think they took us for granted but they were coming in as hot favourites. We produced a fine performance that day. Donie Shine was in serious form, Cathal Cregg, Karl Mannion and Michael Finneran at midfield, the likes of Peter Domican, Geoffrey Claffey in goal, a lot of really fine players.”

Séan McDermott (2) celebrating Roscommon’s 2010 Connacht final victory with Sligo.

Source: James Crombie

And then a second arrived in July 2017 amidst a downpour in Galway when not many envisaged it.

“It’s a funny one. The years you expect to win a provincial title or the years you expect to do well, it doesn’t always happen like that. I felt in ’16 that we were primed to win a Connacht title because we had such a good panel of players and things were going very well. We fell short against Galway, the second day we were outclassed. Then in ’17 no one expected us to do it when we came to Salthill as underdogs and got over the line.”

He can recall a few days with regret but no recollection that sparks major heartbreak.

“I don’t think there was any real major disappointment. I felt we should have possibly beaten Mayo the first day in ’17 in Croke Park. Unlucky too in ’14 with John Evans against Mayo, they beat us in a semi-final in Hyde Park.

“Maybe in ’16 I felt things were going very well, I was sorry to see Fergal and Kevin parting ways. I thought that the backroom team and panel were there and the next few years were going to be very substantial for Roscommon. Then again we won our Connacht title in ’17 and probably would have been disappointed with our Super 8s run last year.”

Anchoring the Roscommon rearguard brought McDermott into close quarters with a wide array of elite forwards. Spring schedules saw him exposed to gametime in all four divisions of the league with Derry and Waterford the only two counties he was not opposed to.

“I’ve marked quite a few of them in my time. People think of the top counties but the likes of Niall McNamee from Offaly was someone I always found very difficult to handle. Had some great battles down through the years with David Kelly from Sligo, top quality forward.

Séan McDermott and David Kelly in opposition in the Connacht championship in 2015.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Marked Jamie Clarke before in a qualifier in Hyde Park, he was absolutely terrific. Obviously the likes of Andy Moran and Shane Walsh. The funny thing about football is no matter where you go in the country, there’s always a good corner-forward. As a corner-back you always know you’ll have a tricky day.”

Away from Roscommon there are fond memories of getting the call up for Ireland in the International Rules in 2010 and a couple of Sigerson Cup seasons with star-studded sides in IT Sligo in 2004 and 2005.

And looking ahead there is the hope of a landmark success with his club Western Gaels along with a hopeful attitude at how Roscommon teams will fare.

A model pro and servant for his county @SeanieMac84 owes nothing to the Primrose and Blue jersey. Enjoy the break away from @RoscommonGAA duty but plenty of years left pounding up and down the pitches of Roscommon with Western Gaels @gaelspro. https://t.co/lFdB1RfP3d

— Western Gaels GAA (@gaelspro) January 6, 2019

Source: Western Gaels GAA/Twitter

“I’m playing with Western Gaels all my life, we’re senior now since 2004. We’ve been knocking on the door a couple of years, unfortunately St Brigid’s have been going so well down through the years.

“They beat us in a final in 2013 and we were unlucky in 2009 to come up against a very good Castlerea team in a final. That’ll be the focus now for the next year or two. With the help of God, we can create a little bit of history. It will take work but there’s a very good group of players there as well.

“I’d be very optimistic, I think there’s an awful lot of quality players in Roscommon. I think that they have a fantastic management team in place this year. I’m sorry at this stage of my life, I wish this had come a few years prior to this.

“I think Anthony will be terrific. He has two top, top lads in Ian Daly and Mark Dowd who in my eyes could be future Roscommon managers. I don’t think there’ll any stone unturned.”

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