CHRISTY’S CALL

Christy McDermott is a big man. I don’t know what shoe size he takes, but he certainly has big shoes to step into as last Thursday night he succeeded a Roscommon hurling legend, Johnny Haughey, as Secretary of the Roscommon Co. Hurling Board. Haughey had held that position for almost five and a half decades.   Christy, who has been secretary of the Oran Hurling Club for twelve years, and who beat Athleague’s Ivan Connaughton to the position, is from a family steeped in GAA tradition and his vast experience in the game will serve him well as he prepares for his role in steering Roscommon hurling into the future.   I met Christy on Friday last and the Department of Agriculture official was very calm about the challenges facing him into the future. I know your background, but for people who may not know it, tell me where your GAA interest comes from? Well, my father and all the family are steeped in the GAA. I didn’t see my late father (Walter) playing in a county final for Kilbride against Elphin many years ago but I grew up in a house where the likes of John Joe Fahy, TS O’Dolain, Seamus Duke, Donal Keenan, Phil Gannon, Johnny Haughey and Phonsie Tully were regular visitors and they were household names in the GAA in Roscommon at the time.    I got to know all those great men as a young boy. I was around as a young boy when Michael Kelly and Gerry Mahon started underage hurling in the Oran parish. Then when the club was set up, three of my own friends, Harry Crowley, Brendan McDermott and Tommy Ryan, were the first officers of the club.    I was lucky enough to have been involved with Oran hurling from the start and was lucky to win three county senior medals, which I treasure.    I was also involved in the football club in Oran and I was treasurer of the club many years ago. I have served every officership in the Oran Club – except PRO – and I have been secretary of the hurling club for twelve years, so I think I have seen how the club works in that regard at least! Had you ambitions to be involved in the county scene? I was always interested in the county scene and I often thought about being on some committee or other but it was not until Johnny Haughey decided he was going to retire that I really thought about it seriously because I would not have run againt him while he was there. I was delighted to get the nomination from my club, so here I am! It will be a tough job to get settled in. What are the priorities? It will no doubt (be tough). I have warned my club that that I will have to take off my Oran hat and put on a Primrose and Blue one because that is what I will be concentrating on and you have to act for the greater good with all the clubs in mind when you are county secretary.    There will be difficult decisions to be made at times and I have to be able to take those decisions for the greater good of all the clubs.    I have huge shoes to fill. Johnny Haughey was and is a legend of Roscommon GAA. He did a great job running the hurling board over the years and I realise that I have a huge act to follow. All I can do is my best – and I’ll do that surely. Would it be fair to say that these are times of change for Roscommon hurling?  Yes. We had a great 2007 but we were down for a few years before that. When things are going well you try and keep them going well, but that’s not always possible.    Coaching is the key though. I sincerely hope that a lot of the fringe clubs who are near the strong hurling clubs could do something in the near future. Clubs like St. Brigids, Kilbride, Clan na nGael and clubs like that are who I’m talking about. It would be great to extend into those for a start.    It would also be great to see more than seven senior clubs competing into the future. There is great interest and goodwill for hurling in the clubs that have no teams and our coaching people like Michael Carroll have been reporting that in recent years, which is very positive. The county players will be formally looked after financially now. Is that something that you would welcome? It is – and I’m glad it’s sorted out now. It’s better that things like strikes and that sort of thing are avoided and I just hope tha players from the so-called weaker counties like ourselves are looked after just as well as the others because the Roscommon hurlers (and footballers) put in just as big an effort as the (players in) so-called big counties do.    There is very little difference in the amount of training that Roscommon do and the more successful counties do – except for a few weeks at the end of the championship – so they deserve equal treatment in my view. What would you like to achieve as County Secretary in the short-term future? It’s only natural that one would like to see one’s own club doing well but if that is not going to happen I would like to see other clubs who have not won in a long time coming to the fore and winning a championship