For an­other two years, out along­side my son

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE - GRA­HAM CLIF­FORD

to the un­der­age club sides at Clon­more and with the Car­low Colts, the county un­der-16 squad, of which his son Rory is a part.

“Tech­ni­cally, if I keep play­ing for an­other two years, I could be lin­ing out along­side my son. The fam­ily came to our last game against Mount Le­in­ster and were buzzing af­ter­wards, es­pe­cially my youngest Ailbhe. My wife does worry a lit­tle. In 2008, I tore my Achilles and last year, in­jured my quad in a game. But look, I got over it and kept go­ing, it wasn’t go­ing to kill me.”

And Johnny, a ware­house and lo­gis­tics man­ager, has no in­ten­tion of hang­ing up the boots any­time soon.

“Foot­ball means so much to me, al­ways has, al­ways will. I think a lot of lads stop play­ing far too young. As long as you’re fit, I think you should stick at it — you’ll be stopped play­ing and wish­ing you were for long enough.”

Tommy Kelly, who has held so many dif­fer­ent roles with the Clon­more GAA club over the years, has never re­ally re­tired. “Sure, I love it. I turned 61 in Fe­bru­ary but still feel great — and al­ways tog out just in case the ju­nior side need me. Of­ten, they might be short on numbers, es­pe­cially around exam time, so I’m happy to step in if needs be. Ours is a small club with a great heart in it, great peo­ple show­ing in­cred­i­ble ded­i­ca­tion. It would be very hard to walk away from some­thing like that.”

And he tells me there’s value in hav­ing the older, wiser heads sprin­kled through­out a side too.

“The young lads are great but some­times you need that bit of ex­pe­ri­ence thrown in as well. Calmer heads in the heat of bat­tle.”

While his play­ing time th­ese days is lim­ited, he’s still pick­ing up medals in the sport­ing arena.

“I don’t play as of­ten as I used to. My po­si­tion was al­ways cor­ner back, but I’m happy to get a run wher­ever I’m needed. I also play hand­ball and only won a dou­bles hand­ball tour­na­ment there a few weeks ago.”

And he couldn’t imag­ine life with­out his pre­cious Clon­more.

“Sure, I’d be lost with­out it. Th­ese clubs are so im­por­tant to ru­ral Ire­land, not just to the young but to lads like me who may be get­ting on but who love their club and ev­ery­one in it.”

A lot of lads stop play­ing way too young

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.