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Monday is the new Sunday

Kilmurry-Ibrickane manager Micheál McDermott with family horse, Cookie, at home in Ballyduff, Barefield.  Photograph by John Kelly

THE longer Kilmurry-Ibrickane’s season extends, the easier it has been for Micheál McDermott to leave the ladder in his garage in Ballyduff, Barefield.
Now that he is managing the county team, along with the Clare and Munster club champions, the Cavan man is tied up on the football front six days a week. Monday is his night off but it’s not an evening when he feels like reaching for the ladder.
“Just unwind and get your plans in order for the following week. Have an early night and just recharge the batteries. I find that Monday is so relaxing,” McDermott, who is in his second year in charge of Kilmurry, explained.
His wife Marie, who is from Armagh, is as passionate about horses as her husband is about football. Although she might be temporarily stunned, Marie can’t wait for the day when Micheál is seen on top of the ladder, armed with a paint brush.
“There’s a lot of little jobs around the house that need to be done. The list would be quite long if it was a thing that I had time off. I can see visions of being up on a ladder after March 17, painting the house. It’s been waiting to be done now for two or three years,” McDermott laughed.
Their 18-year-old son Paul is in Scotland at the moment, working in a stable and trying to make inroads into his love of show jumping, while daughter, Kelly (22), is a hair dresser with Peter Mark in Ennis.
McDermott believes that if Paul, who is due to start college next September, wasn’t in Scotland, it would be impossible to find the time to manage two teams.
“He has jumped ponies all over the country and abroad. I would never have been able to do the two teams if he had been still around,” he explained.
His youngest daughter, Katie, is also querying what keeps her father so busy six days a week. 
“She’s wondering, ‘where’s Daddy?’ It’s tough on family life, there’s no doubt about it. Probably your family suffer as a result of it but I’ve been very, very fortunate that they’ve always been 100% behind me,” the former Clare junior manager said.
Katie is due to make her communion in late May and McDermott is relieved that he hasn’t been placed in a tricky situation.
“It was supposed to be June 12 but was brought forward to May 22. My first thought was, ‘I hope that doesn’t impact on the first round of the Munster championship with Clare. The way things are in my life at the moment, everything revolves around the football,” he reflected.
Even at work, Micheál can’t escape football talk. He works with National Irish Bank in the credit department looking after property lending for Limerick, Clare and Galway. Given the way the economy is listing, maybe it’s not a shock to hear that his customers prefer to harp on about football.
“Your customers might ring up with a problem but by the time they’ve stopped talking about football, they may have forgotten about what their problem was. Nearly all of my customers would know that I’m involved with either Kilmurry-Ibrickane or Clare. It’s maybe an icebreaker in some ways,” McDermott thinks, acknowledging perhaps that the smallest of ice breakers is in invaluable in the banking sector these days.
Communication is key on the field and at work. McDermott likes to talk even if sometimes it’s a bit early in the day.
“I deal with an awful lot of phone calls during the trip in the car to training. Whereas during working hours, I try to concentrate on the work only. A lot of people will say, ‘why are you ringing me at 8am here Micheál?’ But I find, when I’m in the car, the hands-free set is absolutely brilliant to get everything done,” he noted.
Perhaps McDermott’s most significant decision during his time in charge of Kilmurry-Ibrickane was to drop five players in 2008 before they played Doora-Barefield in a championship group match.
That five had delayed a bit longer than McDermott liked at a wedding. Dropping them set the tone; messing would not be tolerated.
“Would I have done it in a county semi or quarter-final? Who knows? They’re a bunch of players that enjoy life. If you take football too seriously, you’re not able to handle the pressure. We never really have a drink ban from the start of the year. We just say, a couple of weeks before a big match, ‘stay off the drink’. Because you have to be prepared properly and they know that now at this stage,” McDermott said.
“From the word go, what I asked for was a bit of respect and discipline. We’re quite fortunate that we’ve a very, very strong panel and if a fella steps out of line, some other guy may take his place. If a guy is not showing form in training, he’ll lose his place as well and they all know where they stand. The team is picked on form all the time. You can’t get it right all the time but the one thing we always want to be is fair. Treat them with a bit of respect as well,” he added.
Michael Clohessy, the 1999 Doora-Barefield All-Ireland club hurling winning manager, is McDermott’s next door neighbour in Ballyduff.
The Kilmurry manager may be hopping over the wall a few times, between now and March 17.
“I’ll be probably wrecking his brain for the next two weeks, trying to get some idea of what it takes to be successful. Whatever ideas he has, I’ll be tapping into them,” McDermott said, knowing that win, lose or draw on St Patrick’s Day, he’ll have to be seen up a ladder some day soon.

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