Oisin McConville focus on Inniskeen before Wicklow challenge begins

Oisin McConville has been manager of Inniskeen for the last three seasons. Picture: Philip Walsh.
Oisin McConville has been manager of Inniskeen for the last three seasons. Picture: Philip Walsh.

THREE seasons with Inniskeen have made Oisin McConville part of the community at the Monaghan club and it will be a wrench for him to leave when he takes over the reins at Wicklow.

McConville will dip his toe into the inter-county management water for the first time with the Garden County when the club season ends and of course he wants to go out on a high note.

All’s fair in love and football in the Farney county however and Inniskeen will have to scrap all the way in a competitive championship that will go right to the final round of group games before the semi-finalists are confirmed.

Inniskeen drew 0-9 apiece with Truagh on Sunday and had to show every ounce of their battling qualities to come out with a share of the spoils. Three down at the break and five behind early in the second half, McConville’s men battled back to level as the game went into injury-time.

Four minutes of it had been played when Truagh regained the lead but Inniskeen found the resolve and composure to land an equaliser with virtually the last kick of an absorbing game at Truagh’s impressive St Mellon’s Park grounds.

“When they kicked the last point we thought we were dead-and-buried,” admitted McConville, an All-Ireland winner with club and county.

“Young Dylan (McConnell) came on and kicked the equaliser for us and, to be fair to our boys, anything that went out around the middle of the field in the second half we were winning it and we weren’t really doing that in the first half so credit to them for sticking in there.

“We showed fight, you never ask these boys questions that they can’t answer as far as fight is concerned. We didn’t play up to our potential, I thought we were really poor for the last 10 minutes of the first half and they caught us but we dug in and we got a draw and that brings it down to the last (group) game.”

Inniskeen and Truagh are assured of places in the top three but only the two group winners automatically go through to the semi-finals - the second and third-placed sides play-off against their counterparts in Group One. Inniskeen meet Carrickmacross in their final game and, with two points on the board, they can still make the top three as can Truagh’s opponents Latton.

“It’ll be a tough,” predicted McConville.

“They’ll be coming fighting for their lives and when you’ve a team doing that it makes for tricky championship football.”

His Wicklow assignment will be a challenge. The county was relegated to Division Four last year but showed promise by beating Laois in the Leinster Championship. Meath ended their provincial run and in the Tailteann Cup, Wicklow accounted for Waterford but then lost out to Offaly.

McConville says he’ll pour all he has into Inniskeen for the remainder of this season and “we’ll think about Wicklow after that”.

“I’ve really enjoyed my team here,” he said.

“When you spend three years’ with people you get close, you become part of the community I suppose. Inniskeen is about 15 minutes away from where I live and we’re similar in character.”

How are you similar? I ask.

“We’re mad!” he answers with a laugh.

“I think that helps, it helps that we come from a similar locality and the big thing about Inniskeen, and you could see it right at the end, is that they’re all about fight and about looking after each other and if we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t have got a draw.”