End of an era as Dominic Corrigan bids farewell to St Michael's, Enniskillen after 37 years
AFTER 37 years, one of the most influential coaches in Ulster colleges, club and inter-county football announced his retirement from teaching yesterday.
Fermanagh native Dominic Corrigan of St Michael’s College, Enniskillen said it was “an emotional day” stepping away from teaching after almost four decades but he was looking forward to the next chapter and not being “tied down to bells, timetables and schedules”.
While he is no longer a teacher as in from today, Corrigan will remain heavily involved in GAA management, having taken the reins at his home club Kinawley – and doesn’t rule out returning to inter-county management some time in the future.
The highly regarded 60-year-old coach stepped away from the Fermanagh job at the end of 2003 – but he laid the foundations that saw the Ernemen reach the All-Ireland semi-finals the following year, under Charlie Mulgrew, while many of his former players and pupils backboned Malachy O’Rourke’s 2008 side that lost an Ulster final replay to Armagh.
Speaking to The Irish News yesterday, Corrigan reflected on his 37-year teaching and coaching career in the college.
“It’s my last day up on the hill. It’s an emotional day, surely,” he said.
“For the last time I’m bidding farewell after 37 years. I turned 60 last December and I always said I’d like to change direction a bit and not be tied down to bells, timetables and schedules and all of that. I’m ready for moving on to quieter pastures.
“But I’ll miss the engagement with the pupils, I’ll miss the sport and the craic and the banter, the social side of it. When you’ve been used to something for so long, it’s hard to adapt so there will be a bit of time to getting used to a new way of life.
“St Michael’s College and MacRory Cup football was a way of life for many years, so you just move away from that. I plan to get a bit of cycling in, walking, things like that. So I’ll have time to do more of that.”
Corrigan won five MacRory Cup titles, a Hogan Cup [in 2019], reached two other Hogan finals as St Michael’s manager and guided the Fermanagh students to a host of other school titles dating back to the early 1990s.
“St Michael’s College and the MacRory Cup are unique and I’ve been very privileged to have been working with such fantastic footballers over the years and such fantastic teams. We’ve had great days, we’ve had low days – and that’s the thing about sport: there are so many highs but there are going to be more lows and it prepares you for life in general.
“The thing about it is, working with young players keeps you young, they keep you fresh and on your toes. You have to be that bundle of energy. So that’s part of my life that’s gone.
“There will be a change. Everything has to come to an end. I feel that it’s important when I have good health that I’d like to do some other things that I haven’t had the chance to do when you are teaching.”
He added: “We’ve been one of the most successful teams over the years. But that’s not what it was about – it’s the journey with teams whether they won or lost, they were brilliant journeys, and you put the same effort into whether they were All-Ireland champions or whether they were beaten in the early stages of MacRory Cup – the same level of prep and time goes into them. I wouldn’t change anything.
“At St Michael’s we always felt as good or better than anybody else – and to prove that we were the best in Ireland a couple of years ago was special. It was the pursuit of excellence on and off the pitch and getting across the values to them that are important in life.”
Corrigan, who had managerial spells with Fermanagh and Sligo, last year guided Leitrim club Ballinamore to their first county championship in 31 years.
On the prospect of re-entering the inter-county managerial circuit, the affable coach commented: “I wouldn’t say no to anything at this stage, but in the short term my focus is on my club Kinawley.”