Moycullen's Sean Kelly proving a man for the big occasions
THE odds aren't particularly good for Moycullen in their bid to reach the AIB All-Ireland club football decider but if anyone knows about qualifying for finals it's Sean Kelly.
In the last 12 months, the Galway captain's various teams – club, county and college – have qualified for the finals of each of the seven competitions they have entered, winning five different titles.
There was, initially, an FBD Connacht League final with Galway last January, then a Sigerson Cup final, a National League Division Two final, a Connacht final and an All-Ireland final, followed by county and provincial finals with his club.
Ask Kelly about the most memorable experience of it all and he immediately rewinds back to June's remarkable All-Ireland quarter-final defeat of Armagh, a highlight and a lowlight all wrapped up in one. Galway eventually won that exhaustive encounter on penalties though Kelly's red card following the melee beneath the Cusack Stand – which was later rescinded – coloured his view of the afternoon.
"It was a crazy game to sum up a crazy year," said Kelly.
"That day, in fairness, it was just emotion that got the better of a lot of people and it really blew up. Going into the tunnel, it was a bit of...look, nasty scenes in fairness. It's something you don't want in football but obviously with the emotion that's there and the day that was in it, it can be sometimes hard to avoid.
"Everyone wants to win and will do all they can to win. I don't know how to sum it up but coming off, starting that extra-time period and getting the red card, it was a bit of a disappointment. I don't know where to start when talking about it to be honest."
A few months on there is a chance now that Kelly, the Galway skipper, and Shane Walsh, arguably Galway's best player, could end up on opposing sides in the All-Ireland club final later this month.
Moycullen were ambitious, of course, so Kelly isn't exactly shocked that they've made it this far, to the penultimate stage of the All-Ireland series, but Allstar Walsh's mid-season switch to Kilmacud Croke's, and their subsequent golden streak has caught everyone by surprise.
"No, in fairness it is an interesting one," said Kelly. "Hopefully now he has a good game with Croke's and and hopefully we get over the line ourselves and we could have at least one Galway man lifting the cup at the end."
This will be a stiff task for Moycullen though, surely their stiffest yet. Opponents Glen are, in some ways, a mirror image of the Galway champions with both clubs only picking up their first and second ever county senior titles in recent seasons.
"They are just a great side and you saw what they did to Kilcoo, who are a great club team as well," said Kelly, a versatile performer for club and county who typically wears number three for Moycullen but plays in the half-forwards.
"We know how tough it will be, they are similar enough to us in that they've had a great run of games and are solid defensively. They also look to express themselves as well with good kick-passing into the forward line. All their players look to take you on and look to score, so it will be a tough match.
"We've had a few tough games this year, in that you'd face teams with not necessarily similar styles but different qualities, different styles of games and players – Glen have it all over the pitch. So we know how good we are going to have to be if we are going to be on the right side of the result."
Regardless of that result, there is no sign of Kelly's hectic schedule letting up anytime soon. University of Galway - known as NUI Galway last year – will defend their Sigerson Cup title for the first time next Wednesday against Davy Burke's Maynooth. It is a tie that not just Kelly but his two younger brothers, Eoghan and Paul, who also played in last year's final win over David Clifford's UL, could be asked to play in.
"I haven't even thought about it," said Kelly. "Don Connellan is involved as well, he's manager of Moycullen and involved with the Sigerson too, so we'll see. Club is the most important at the moment for us."