INDIVIDUAL training and Zoom meetings are wearing a bit thin at this stage, so Killinkere boss Paddy Bates is hopeful that it won’t be long now before collective training is permitted to return.
While Bates is a native of Latton in Monaghan, he’s a big part of things in Killinkere in this stage having led the club to the Junior Championship title in 2019.
Unfortunately, tragedy was to follow as their young skipper Lewis Fay Cooper died after a freak accident in April 26 of last year, so Bates says it’s especially important that the club is able to get together ahead of the anniversary of his passing.
His loss is still sorely felt, but Bates says they’re doing their best in the circumstances and he’s cognisant of the fact that they aren’t the only club that has been touched by grief in the last 12 months.
“It’s getting closer to his anniversary and that’s definitely brought back a few memories for me personally.
“Lewis was the captain when we won the Junior Championship, and we’d achieved promotion to Division One as well so he was really looking forward to the future.
“It would be great if we could at least get together before the end of April as we haven’t had a huge opportunity to remember him. It’s coming up to a year now and we’d like to be able to get back together as a unit again.”
He continued: “I met Cormac McAnallen when Tyrone won the All-Ireland in 2003, he gave a presentation to our u-14 team. He was a gentleman and I remember thinking he was going to be a leader for Tyrone for a long time.
“Lewis was going to be a leader for Killinkere for many years. It really is a huge loss but we have to move on as best we could, and there’s been a lot of tragedies because of Covid in the last year.”
Killinkere not only won the Junior Championship but also achieved promotion to Division One in 2019. They did pretty well in last year’s Intermediate Championship, although they chose not to field in a truncated league campaign, preferring to play challenge matches in Louth and Down. They were knocked out of the championship by beaten finalists Butlersbridge in the quarter-final stage.
“We drew against Drumgoon, beat Arva, lost to Belturbet and then bounced back with a good win over Cuchulainn’s to qualify for the quarters. We lost to Butlersbridge after extra-time in a very good game.
“We don’t think we’re too far away, Intermediate football in every county is generally pretty close anyway as any one of about five teams can come out on top.
“There’s a bit of light at the end of the tunnel now, and it helps that the clocks have gone forward, so I’m hoping we can get something together as a team soon.
“We’ve been separated for too long and we really need to get back together.”