Paudie Palmer writes a weekly GAA column for the Evening Echo every Thursday. Here is part of last night’s column.
AS WE paddle through this existence, the journey can be greatly enhanced by certain individuals whom we encounter along the way (well that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it).
One such gentleman is Chris Corcoran, a card-carrying lifetime member of Courcey Rovers GAA club and resident of the idyllic rural village of Ballinadee. After my most recent encounter, Chris had an idea for this page — in all probability he felt that it needed an infusion of new thoughts!
Between ourselves, I took it as a compliment when he suggested that I should scribble a few lines to acknowledge the existence of a unique and special sports follower. The person in question is Mike Coughlan, a man with special needs and a resident of the L’Arche community in Togher. A kind man of few words, who processes a serious devotion to the world of sport.
After a little further probing I established that the happenings in GAA land is the fuel of this man’s existence.
Born 70 years ago this year and a child of one of these unique mixed marriages. His father was a master butcher and a proud northside man, while his mother was a south side lady with a unique talent in the world of culinary arts.
It would appear that the DNA from the north side was the dominant one as Mike has been an ardent follower of Glen Rovers all his life.
Not being able to read himself, has not in anyway prevented him from becoming aquatinted with the written word. Nothing gives him more pleasure than one of the volunteers at this wonderful establishment reading the sports pages for him.
In the late 1960s when Down were emerging as the poster boys of gaelic football, Mike became a convert and how I don’t know, but on a recent visit to that county he met with one of the players of that era.
If that wasn’t enough the said player invited Mike to his home for a chat and a cup of tea. Interest, regardless of limitations can get you a long way.
Mention Glen Rovers and obviously Christy Ring’s name moves centre stage. Regardless of where the world may take Mike, a DVD on the late Christy’s exploits is always in his possession and it has become his major communication tool.
Earlier on this year, the cake at one of his birthday parties was like a mecca to the Cork GAA logo, one viewing and you knew what this man’s real sporting passion is.
Croke Park is his shrine and on Monday week last a number of people went the extra distance to mark the 70th birthday. Up to this Mike had visited Croke Park — not once or twice but a remarkable 69 previous occasions — so it was simple really when it came to deciding how to mark the event.
16 people including staff, volunteers, residents and Mike journeyed to the big park and nothing else would do only the grand tour and birthday lunch in the corporate section. I’m not sure whether prawn sandwiches were part of the menu, but I do know that when the staff became aware that a really special guest was in town all the stops were pulled out to ensure that this was a most memorable visit.
There were times previously when Mike visited the stadium and just sat along with his volunteer helper and looked out at the empty magnificent field in front of him, no doubt letting the imagination run wild.
Editor, there has been occasions over the past three years when scribbling these few lines has been a real challenge but right now I thank you for the opportunity to dedicate a few words to one of our special brethren. Mike, I hope you will be happy with the effort and I know if you are not you will understand. You’re a mighty man.
A while back I had Manchester City were unaccompanied on their way to the summit, but the soccer landscape changed another re adjustment and it was the other side of Manchester started enjoying that were enjoying the view from the elevated location. Now, were not so sure anymore. That’s sport.
Not too many editions additions ago these pages were preparing you for a life as a follower of a second-tier hurling team. Then again, maybe I should have been mindful of the fact that the big powers of the GAA don’t really do transitions.
Last Sunday at the Cathedral hurling venue there was further testament to the reality that the Corcaigh hurlers are on their way back to the peak. True, Tipperary were shorn of some of the glory-day boys, but that fact does in itself would not excuse the manner of the loss satisfy the analytical.
A full-back and a centre-back 3 and a 6 vying for a meeting with the man of the match trophy maker was a sign of the new order. Stephen McDonnell’s sideways relocation to the number three full0back position and the re-deployment of the ‘gentle’ Eoin Cadogan to the influential number six centre-back location could be seen as an example of mutual relocation benefit. And William Egan’s growing reputation as a man who intends to make the number seven his favourite number continued in flawless fashion.
Sometimes in the recent gloryThese days some would have you believe that wing-forwards were optional extras, with the real assets taking up inside residence. Last Sunday witnessed an outstanding display from two wing operators in laying the foundations for a number of scores. If Niall McCarthy and Pa Cronin continue in this vein vain we may have a September parade.
I was The column was glad also delighted to witness the skills of Luke O’Farrell. There were times during the spring time league action when I felt that the sideline seating had become too homely — but what a belter of a goal!
Yes, Donal Óg Cusack’s injury was a serious deficit but to believe that his loss is fatal would be an unfair assessment of both Anthony Nash and Martin Coleman. Sunday was the Kanturk man’s lucky day as it appeared to be his turn to have the understudy geansaí. Whichever one of them gains possession of that coveted number one jersey, they won’t leave the side down.
Finally to the request section and we have two.
Firstly to Patrick Horgan, if you gain custody of a national trophy I presume that you would not have any difficulty in taking it for a visit to our special man Mike Coughlan at the L’Arche community in Togher.
Secondly if any of you would like to become a volunteer (and you can just imagine the pleasure derived from doing something as ordinary as reading a sports page to somebody like Mike) they would only be too delighted to hear from you. You can contact Jonathan Fitzpatrick at the L’Arche workshop at 021-4318880. I’m looking forward to viewing a photograph of two Glen men and a trophy!