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Derrytresk Break The Silence to Teamtalkmag.com
Teamtalkmag.com have the interview that everyone wants to hear. Kevin Kelly spoke exclusively to Derrytresk joint manager Paul Hughes.
Derrytresk – the highs and lows of winning an All-Ireland semi-final in ‘the Hill’
It doesn’t take long for the smile to come to the face of Derrytresk joint-manager, Paul Hughes, when we meet. Hughes is one half of what has become known as ‘the two Paul’s’ around Derrytresk – Paul Canavan is the other half of the Tyrone club’s management team in this historic season for the Fir an Chnoic,(Men of the Hill).
I’ve met with the two Pauls on a regular basis during this championship season that we have all come to refer fondly to as ‘the journey’. And it has been quite a journey – a journey that has far exceeded any expectations in the club. Previous to this year the club’s championship journey invariably ended after the first round in Tyrone but here they are now contemplating running out on to Croke Park for the All-Ireland Junior club final and hoping for their 9th championship victory of the season.
“I’d say we haven’t had nine championship victories in the past 20 years” says Hughes when I ask him about this year’s run.
“We’re not a club that has any championship history and have only ever won the Tyrone title once before, 1955, and the club were beaten in the Tyrone Senior Championship final in 1949, (my Da was on that team he adds), so to be at this level is incredible for us.”
The early smile narrows, however, when I next ask about the week’s coverage of the All-Ireland semi-final and the incidents which occurred.
“As a club we took the view that anything that happened last Sunday should be dealt with through proper GAA channels and processes so we released a statement to that effect. We know that things have happened on the day that will possibly bring punishment on both clubs but the GAA processes will highlight those things and we as a club will then work with the relevant authorities to complete whatever requirements are deemed necessary.
No other approach will allow us move through this stage any quicker. If there are punishments then both clubs will have to accept that as the outcome – we’ve said to the boys all year that if you miss training there’s a sanction, if you break team rules there’s a sanction and the boys have accepted that because its been consistently applied by Paul (Canavan) and myself. This will be no different – if there has been wrong done there’ll be a sanction.”
I push him a bit further and ask if the negative coverage has put a damper on the atmosphere in the club.
“We’re in a position” he says “where we’ve won an All-Ireland semi-final having played some very, very good football and the boys are still on a high about that – they’re delighted and absolutely over the moon, as are we all in the area.
We wouldn’t want the coverage to mask or influence the investigation that follows or indeed the perception of our club in the run-up to the final. There’s some residue of disappointment about the reporting but maybe more so among the people of the area about how some media outlets have told this story but that’s modern society, we can’t do anything about that.”
So what has made the difference I ask him, and the smile widens again as Hughes begins to enjoy talking about players that Canavan and himself, (he is quick to add the names also of Bartley Coyle, Beano Quinn and Sean McCabe who have also worked voluntarily with the team during the championship season), are obviously proud of.
“This is not just one or two year’s work, because this has been going on over a long number of years in the club. As I said we’re coming out of a near twenty year period when the club was only winning three or four matches in an entire year and it would have been easy for the club, which draws from about 60 houses and is the smallest of four clubs in a rural parish and the smallest in Tyrone, to fold.
But tremendous work was done by a raft of men in the club at youth level to help bring through two groups of underage players that make up the majority of the senior panel, (8 of the present team are aged 22 – 25 and came off a minor squad while 6 others on the team are U21 and were also on a minor team together). We existed for years on 8 or 9 boys from the area, 3 or 4 that were married to the daughters of the area and a few more who weren’t getting regular football at some of the other clubs to make up our senior team.
Then the club men pushed to get a reserve team going and then youth teams also and the remarkable thing here is that the present squad is made up of boys who have all come through the youth ranks in the club and that’s the really incredible aspect of the whole thing.
My late father used to say there’s no such thing as can’t, it’s an excuse for don’t want to or couldn’t be bothered. I think Derrytresk at the minute has shown a template for success to other small clubs based on hard work, effort and giving young people a sense of belonging and the club is the embodiment of that oul phrase of my father’s – there’s no such thing as can’t!!!”