By Katrina Brennan
WHEN Dom Corrigan laced up the boots as an 11 year old cub, making his Kinawley debut on the u-14 team that played Erne Gaels, he found himself in nets.
On that sunny Saturday morning, back in 1973, the then u-14 manager, Fr Gaffney, gave Corrigan the number one shirt but his performance between the sticks didn’t earn him many plaudits that day, after, in his own words “the goals rained past me from all angles.”
Almost half a century later and that defeat still stands out in Corrigan’s memory but his career on and off the pitch certainly took an upward turn and now the Springtown man is coming back home to take charge of the Kinawley senior team.
Word of Corrigan’s decision to take on the Brian Boru’s came as somewhat of a surprise to many but for the man himself, asked if he always saw himself coming back to Kinawley? He quickly responds, “aw I did, yeah.”
“When Sean Doonan (club chairman) told me the manager’s position was available and asked would I be happy to go for it, I felt it was something I was going to do at some stage and I suppose now is as good a time as any.”
Reflecting on the response he has had around the club, he says;
“There’s great positivity, the people in Kinawley are great people, they are the people I was born and reared with, obviously they’re delighted to see one of their own come in and manage them going forward this year and I’m delighted to be taking them on.
“The old saying, there’s no place like home and I’m looking forward to getting back out to Kinawley and working on the pitch with a great group of players.
“We will work hard and see where it gets us and enjoy the journey irrespective of what the outcome is and that’s the one thing about me as a coach and manager, I certainly want players in my environment to feel it’s a happy place to be, they want to be there, not forced to be there, that they’re enjoying it and when they’re enjoying it they’re improving as well.”
Corrigan has nothing left to prove as a manager, he has brought championship success to five different clubs, in three different counties, winning a total of seven senior county titles.
He has won with Monaghan sides Castleblayney and Clontibret, Tyrone’s Carrickmacross and Killyclogher and most recently, managing Ballinamore to their first Senior Championship since 1990 a couple of months ago. Throw into the mix his success with St Michael’s College at MacRory and Hogan Cup level and you can see why there’s a bit of a buzz around Patrick McManus Memorial Park.
Corrigan moved to Enniskillen to live in 1987 but his two sons, Tomás and Ruáirí are true blues, a testament to the club, says their father, who took them out the road for u-8 training and embedded them in the community there.
“They weren’t for moving anywhere” tells Corrigan, “it shows you how special the club is that the boys came out from Enniskillen, the 10 or 12 mile. They just loved the environment, loved the people and under no circumstance would they have went anywhere else at that stage.”
Now, many years later and Dom will be the one issuing the instructions but managing is own sons is not something that concerns him.
“I’d be treating them all the same. When I go into Kinawley it’ll be a clean slate. I’m certainly glad I have the two boys with what they’ll bring to it and every other player there has their own unique and special qualities that they will bring to it.”
When talking to Corrigan, there is a great emphasis on teamwork and togetherness. You get the sense from him that it is the vital cog in the wheel of his success.
“It’s a matter of gelling it all together and I’m looking forward to that challenge. It’s probably going to take a bit of time to get everything right, we’ll work at it together and the thing I strongly believe in, is not really about the manager as such, its about the management team and it’s about the players and it’s about everybody going at it together. It’s about the committee and the club and the supporters.
“The one thing I put serious emphasis on is unity in the group, in the club and I’ll be looking for everybody to weigh in behind all the teams and make a positive contribution. Whatever contribution you have to make to the club, make sure it’s a positive one. I’ll be looking to see that positivity around the club, I don’t deal with people who are negative, I won’t entertain any negativity, unless you’re positive and have a positive approach to things, you don’t count with me.”
In June, Corrigan retires from St Michael’s College after 36 years of service and just over a week ago, the Kinawley clubman turned 60 years old. I wondered if he felt any added pressure, taking on the job on his own home patch?
“I don’t see this as pressure, I see this as going back home to my roots, to where it all started and I’m looking forward to getting the best out of this particular group that is here and along the way to be enjoying it.
“I’ve gone into a couple of fairly big clubs where the expectation was to win championships in a short space of time, maybe there was more pressure going into those big, high profile clubs than there is with Kinawley, who has never won a championship, so no, I wouldn’t say extra pressure.”