LiveGaelic.com » LiveGaelic Legends – Oisin McConville Part 2

08 Apr

LiveGaelic Legends – Oisin McConville Part 2

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Posted by Connor Murphy in LiveGaelic Legends | Apr 2013

The second part of our LiveGaelic Legends interview with All Ireland winning Armagh forward Oisin McConville. Don’t forget to take a look at part one if you haven’t done so already.

LiveGaelic Legends – Oisin McConville – Armagh

2002 marked a high point for Armagh during Joe Kernan’s very successful tenure, was there a change of preparation that lifted the team to perform as well as you did that year?
I suppose ’99, 2000, 2001 we had been there or there abouts when it comes to winning an All Ireland, we just didn’t get over the line. I think when Joe came in he brought with him a lot of belief. He was after achieving All Ireland success with Cross, he firmly believed that we were all good enough and he didn’t believe that Armagh would always choke when they got to Croke Park, despite that being the name we had at that time.

One of the things he told us was that we were as good as anybody else, it took us a while to believe that, but when we did start to believe it we started to get good results and started performing a lot better. More than anything else we had a good group of fellows who had a huge amount of experience, but had just never gotten over the line. Joe was the final icing on the cake, he came along with Paul Grimley, and he was able to give us that extra bit of belief and we were eventually able to achieve what we all wanted to achieve.

In the All Ireland final that year, against Kerry, you missed a penalty in the first half, did the penalty miss in the All Ireland Final of 1953 by Bill McCrorry cross your mind as you stepped up to take that kick?
People don’t believe me, but as soon as I missed the penalty he was the first person that came to my mind. Missing that penalty had been mentioned at his funeral, so it wasn’t as if people had forgotten. Paddy Moriarty missed a penalty in ’77, though probably not as important and I thought I was going to be another statistic. I had to go on and try and rectify the balls up I had made.

Joe Kernan’s half time talk that day has become somewhat of a legend within the GAA, did it instil a sense of personal pride within you, or was it a feeling of obligation to right the wrongs of the past of Armagh coming so close through the years, but failing to secure All Ireland glory?
You do feel an obligation, you think about your family, you think of what they’re going through, the boys that you have played with and you think that this might be the last time I’m in an All Ireland Final so why not start doing something about it, start emptying the tank.

Half time was strange, because we all knew in that dressing room that we hadn’t done ourselves justice. When Joe told us about the fact that he had got a runners-up medal in ’77, and we all decided we didn’t want one of them, and then Joe threw it against the wall and that was it, we all ran back onto the field.

When we ran back onto the field not a lot needed to be said after that, we were going to work and work and hopefully the right things would happen, but if we were to fail it wouldn’t be for the lack of trying.

Oisin McConvilleYour goal in the second half was very much a catalyst for the victory; did you feel as though you had made up for the miss in the first half?
I did in a way, I felt redemption for missing the penalty in the first half, but I also knew that it didn’t make any difference if I scored a goal, because unless we won I would still be remembered as the man that missed a penalty. I came running out after celebrating the goal and John McEntee came over and said to me ‘get your head back in the game we’re still down by a point’, and that gave me the realisation that we had some more scores to get and we still had a lot more work to do.

At the final whistle the ball landed in Kieran McGeeney’s hands in what was a very iconic moment. How did it feel to be a part of the first Armagh team to finally win an All Ireland?
To be truthful the initial reaction was absolute relief, because it had taken so much hard work and we had so many false dawns where we had nearly got over the line, but just couldn’t quite. One of the things we talked about, and we spoke about it on the bus home as well, was that it was going to be a lot easier for the next Armagh team to win an All Ireland, because they knew it could be done.

Now obviously that still hasn’t happened all these years later, but when Armagh is ready they won’t be paralysed by the fact that it hasn’t been done before. We hope that it will be the catalyst for more Armagh teams to All Irelands. After that we had a minor team win an All-Ireland and an u21 team that won an All Ireland. It probably was the catalyst for a lot of good things, but we just need to get the players together to be able to go and do it again.

During your career you struggled with a gambling addiction, but to spectators it didn’t seem to have any effect on your performances, was football a sanctuary for you during that time?
Without a doubt, people always think I’m very dramatic when I say that it’s the one thing that kept me alive during that time. Gambling brought me to my knees in every way. It took everything from me, obviously financially it took everything off me, emotionally it took from me, it almost took my family away from me, but one thing that remained constant the whole time was the football. It was somewhere I could go and somewhere I felt I could properly express myself, and something that I felt I had something to give to.

Oisin McConvilleIn the last twenty years you have been one of the most individually well decorated and successful players in the country, would you like to continue that success by venturing into management some day?
I would hope that someday I will experience management. I’m going to work a couple of years with underage players at the club and hopefully step up to the senior grade in the next couple of years and see where that takes me. Hopefully we can remain successful, and hopefully we can continue the legacy the club has created for itself and the next generation can achieve what we achieved for twenty odd years.

That’s the most important thing, I was always told that I was only a keeper of that jersey for the next generation and this generation is the same – they have to pass it on to the next crew and hopefully they are ready for this. That’s why I have a big interest in what goes on at underage because I want to spend the rest of my life watching Cross and Armagh being successful

You announced your retirement earlier this year, following Crossmaglen’s loss to St Brigid’s in the All-Ireland Club Championship this year, did that result influence your decision or was it something you had been considering for a long time?
Well it was something I had decided to do last year, but the two boys had come to me and asked me to stay on this year and I thought about it for quite a while and I decided I would, but I knew regardless of what happened, whether we were beaten in the first round of the Armagh Championship or we won the All Ireland that I was going to give it up. I suppose for a lot of people, even those back home, it was a big shock, but it was a decision I had made quite a long time ago.

I loved every bit of my time playing football, and the success that came along with obviously made it a lot easier to play for as long as I did. It was time for me to go, and I’m quite happy with that decision.

What do you think about the short and long term future of football in Armagh?
I think short term, we are not in the best place, having been knocked out of the u21 Championship and the seniors aren’t hitting the heights they should be. I don’t see us challenging for an All Ireland over the next couple of years, but I think three or four years down the line, hopefully Paul Grimely will have built something and we will be able to put ourselves right back up there in that top five bracket, but in the mean time we have to make do with trying to win an Ulster Championship and whatever success we can.

Having finished talking to Oisin it is obvious his roots are still firmly set in the GAA and Crossmaglen Rangers. We at LiveGaelic.com would like to thank him for taking time out to talk to us, and share his memories of his career.

In case you missed it, don’t forget to read Part 1 of this two part LiveGaelic Legends interview

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