From Cardiff to the Kingdom

Updated: January 30, 2014
From Cardiff to the Kingdom

As we bask in the glow of the recent Irish heroics on welsh soil, preparations are well under way for the club’s first outing of the year. When Ireland come to Cardiff for the 6 Nations, opportunity presents itself for friends, ex Cardiff residents, club members and ex players to return for a weekend of drinks, nostalgia and some good craic in familiar surroundings. Thankfully this year we didn’t just wake up on Sunday morning with a sore head and an empty wallet, kebab remnants strewn offhandedly in areas of the living room out of the line sight. Sure enough to be unearthed weeks later whilst looking for a TV remote.

The opening game of the 2013 6 Nations tournament has given us what the expat craves, bragging rights. Whether it is a work colleague, a friend, a drinking buddy or a spouse, it is always nice to know that you can boast a smug grin for the next 12 months or so. That said, the most resounding reply heard this week has been “Ah we don’t care as long as you beat that other crowd”. Now as enjoyable as “beating that other crowd” would be, and it would enjoyable, there are more things to consider this February than getting one over on the old enemy. On the 22nd of February the St. Colmcilles mens and ladies teams travel over to Ventry in West Kerry to take part in the much celebrated Paidie O’ Se Football Festival.

It was at the end of November that Cardiff was graced with the presence of one of the all time greats of the Gaelic Athletic Association. As a player, the Ghaeltacht man won 8 All Ireland Senior Football medals. He keeps company with former team mates Ogie Moran, Pat Spillane, Mikey Sheedy and Ger Power as one of the most successful players to ever play the game. After his playing career had come to an end, Paidie excelled as a manager and won 2 All Ireland Senior Football Finals with Kerry (1997 and 2000) before leading Westmeath to their first ever Leinster Championship victory (2004). A win that copper fastened his reputation as a great manager, motivator and tactician.

As Paidie regaled us with stories of years gone by in O’Neills on Mary St in Cardiff, you could not help but appreciate his love of all things Irish. The language, the sport, having a few pints, the music. This all came across as he spoke about the history of the Football Festival and its importance to the surrounding area as a means of promoting Irish culture. In recent years Ireland has been ruled by economics. The recession has devastated both the general morale and the hope for a bright future in Ireland. This has resulted in mass emigration to all corners of the world. Friends and family have left, leaving behind ghost towns that were once vibrant social hotspots filled with young people.

There is an irony in that the recession which has forced many to leave the country that they love, has resulted in amelioration of Irish culture abroad. This has meant that more GAA clubs have been springing up in the US, Australia, Canada, Dubai, France, the list goes on. Irish people everywhere are creating a little piece of home away from home. This has undoubtedly also led to significant improvements in the standard of GAA being played abroad. Cardiff has been no different, we have picked up new players as people emigrate in search of work and this has gone some way to 2012 being the most successful year in the history of St. Colmcilles.

With the GAA club being one of the first ports of call for the travelling Irishman. This should help to gain more exposure for Gaelic games at grass roots level, something which can only benefit Ireland as ‘The Gathering’ is being promoted.

As a proud Irishman, Paidi was also interested in getting involved in The Gathering by offering GAA tours of Ireland. No doubt that in Paidi’s absence the Football Festival will now take on a much more prominent role as part of the drive to promote Irish culture in 2013. Another great Gael who has left his beloved kingdom, for the kingdom of heaven.

As St. Colmcilles reflect on 2012, and the success it brought to our small county, we can take great pride in our achievements. If someone had said at this time last year that we would contest a British Championship Final they may well have been ridiculed for their optimism. As Francis of Assisi said “start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible”. That could be the epitaph for the 2012 British Championship as far as Cardiff were concerned. A slow start, but gradually building all aspects of the game and team spirit throughout the year.

Fitness improving, the touch coming back, players vying for positions, the bollards, the gearbag, the deep heat, the craic, the injuries, the nerves, the tense moments, the breaking ball, the last ditch tackles, the physio, the Star of David, the Gallagher drill, the sexy halfback line, the shutdown corner, the weasel, the slug, the squid, the walkover, the barca trip, the rows, the drunken shite talk, the sober shit talk, suckin’ it up, manning up, throwing up, teams not showing up.

In hindsight it was a culmination of all of these things complimented by a great will to win and a touch of professionalism brought by the management team which bore fruit for St. Colmcilles in 2012. As the year progressed we played without fear as a team with a lot of preparation done but nothing to prove. Now as we face into another year I think everyone can understand exactly where Frank from Assisi was coming from (besides Assisi). We came in under everyone’s radar, even our own. This year we know a lot more about how a team functions and what can be achieved when that team work in unison.

With this in mind 2013 should be a great year for Cardiff St. Colmcilles. We have the great honour of playing in a coveted tournament which will help us greatly to prepare for the upcoming year. The passing of Paidi will make our performance all the more pertinent. What better way to honour a great man than by going hell for leather to win out the tournament the way the man himself would want.

Let’s hope it is another great year ahead, to the Kingdom we go. It’s not an island Mickey, it’s a peninsula.

Date Added: 9th February 2013

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