By Niall McCoy
THOSE watching the Monaghan Junior Championship this season may be in for a surprise when they see Oram in action – a strong Kerry lilt will be emanating from their dug-out.
That’s because former Kerry minor Seanie O’Shea has taken over from Rory Woods as manager of the Sarsfields.
He played in an All-Ireland Minor semi-final against Laois alongside the likes of Bryan Sheehan and Brendan Kealy in 2003 – hours before Tyrone’s famous “puke football” (credit: Pat Spillane) victory over the Kingdom senior side – and he is hoping to bring some Munster magic to Monaghan.
Married to Shauna Duffy and working for NRG Panel, the St Michael’s/Foilmore clubman moved to Oram last August. Although he never joined Woods’s matchday squad, he did train a bit with the side and has been impressed by all aspects of the club.
“I have had friends in the club for years. I’ve known Pete Finnegan, Amanda Casey’s husband, for 15 years now. My mother in law (Bridie Duffy) is a big Oram woman so I always had that connection from coming up and down from Kerry.
“You get to know the club, you get to know the lads. When I came up last year they were in the middle in the Junior Championship and I went to a couple of trainings.
“I wasn’t playing or anything. I just dipped my toe in and kicked a bit of ball around.”
O’Shea saw enough in that short window to realise that it was a team with real potential.
They had an excellent campaign in 2020 with the highlight being a 1-13 to 1-9 quarter-final win over Toome. Aughnamullen did inflict a heavy semi-final defeat on them, but the eventual champions looked far too strong for the Junior grade and won their three knock-out games by a combined 51 points.
“The lads did very well last season,” O’Shea continued. “Rory had been over them for two years. He has done great work with this team, as has Tony Graham and Mark Mone.
“They definitely put in huge work and you could see the progression. Aughnamullen were too good for it, but it’s the sign of a good team that they can show they are too good. They did that, so fair play.
“Oram deserved to get to that semi-final though and maybe if they hadn’t met Aughnamullen in the semi they could have gotten an extra step further too.
“By no means am I coming up trying to land a bombshell and change everything. A lot of hard work has been put in to get them to the level they are at now. Please God I’ll be able to continue that.”
Having played for decades in Kerry and having spent the last number of years watching as much Monaghan football as he could, O’Shea said that the game is in a very strong condition in the Oriel county.
“Thankfully I had my finger on the pulse of Monaghan football for a few years before getting involved,” he said.
“I have friendships there with boys from different teams. Ted Duffy would be a good friend of mine so I would have followed Doohamlet’s success over the years. I have followed Oram too, of course.
“In Kerry we are blessed to have so many football clubs. My own club was very rural and that’s why I love Oram here. It’s very similar.
“I have been to Monaghan senior finals and various grades and the standard is extremely high.
“It’s been a season of upheaval, obviously but hopefully we aren’t too far away from getting a bit of training done.”
New facilities on show
By Niall McCoy
IT’S been the longest of spring cleans, but the Covid-19 pandemic allowed Oram club members to spruce up Pairc Padraig.
While construction restrictions meant that there were only windows of opportunities, there will still be a noticeable difference when underage training returns to the grounds in 11 days’ time.
Club PRO Tony Graham has thanked all of those involved, and said they were indebted to the Leader funding that allowed them to complete various projects.
“From this time last year the facilities have developed greatly,” said Graham. “We have resurfaced the car park, we have new turnstiles and a new player entrance.
there was still development work proceeding.”
Pairc Padraig’s official opening in 2012 was marked by a challenge match between Monaghan and Armagh. Even in the relatively short period of time since that game, the ground has grown massively.
The latest addition is an astroturf pitch that will open up more possibilities, particularly during the winter months.
“There was a waste area that was no use to anybody so we decided to see if we could get a bit of funding to put an astro on it,” Graham continued.
“That came through this time last year. The project started just before Christmas and was completed last week. It’s 33 metres long and 18 metres wide.
“Numbers are increasingly greatly in amongst our juveniles and we felt that two pitches was leaving us a wee bit short, so we wanted a third for training nights. This is brilliant for winter training and for training younger ones. It will be of great benefit to the club.”
Graham said that getting volunteers hasn’t been a difficult task, and he senses that the long period of inactivity has only whetted the appetite of people to get stuck into work in Oram.
“We had a tidy up around the club last year and we must have had 30 adults and children tidying around, strimming and things like that,” he said.
“That wouldn’t have happened in previous years.
“When we go to do that again in a few weeks I know we will get serious support again.”