My GAA Life

My GAA Life with Cavan’s Jason Reilly

Name: Jason Reilly

Which teams did you represent?

Cavan, Belturbet, Chicago Parnells, Dartford New York, Ulster

What’s your current involvement?

I am doing the strength and conditioning for Leitrim. And helping with Mullinalaghta’s strength and conditioning.

What was your greatest moment in the GAA?

There have been a few. Getting to play with the club’s senior team is a big one. Getting to play with Cavan as well. They were two great moments for me. In the playing end of it, there were some great matches and some not so great. Playing Kerry in the All-Ireland u-21 was great. I know we were beat but it was a great experience.

What was the most surprising moment in your career?

I was surprised when fellas told me that I was good enough to play county football. I never believed that I could play county football. I played a bit of u-16 but I didn’t play minor for the county. I remember sitting beside Mark Lawlor and he said ‘you should be out there’. That was the 1995 Ulster final between Tyrone and Cavan. I laughed at him. He said ‘No, you should be out there. I’m deadly serious’. I could see on his face he was serious. The following year I was brought in.

Who was the best player you ever played with?

There were a lot. In county Dermot (McCabe) and Larry (Reilly) and Peter. They were great players. Chaps McConnell, Kevin McConnell was great with the Belturbet. Owen McGuigan as well was great.

What was the best score you ever saw in a game you were involved in?

When I was managing the Gaels Martin Dunne would surprise you every day. He would score from the corner flag. You’d shake your head and even wonder why he would go for the score. In county I’ve seen Stephen O’Neill get some serious scores. He had a great score in Croke Park out on the wing.

Which manager made the biggest impact on you and why?

There is a few of them. Mark Lawlor guided me right through from underage. Jim McElgunn when I was younger as well. When I was brought into the county Martin McHugh. He stood out because he brought me in from a small club that wouldn’t have had much. We maybe had only one O’Neill’s ball for training. We were going into county training and there were cones and bibs and everything. He was a very good man manager as well. I have taken a bit from all the managers. They have all been good to me. I have kept in contact with them all. I can still ring them up if I need a bit of advice.

What was the best piece of advice you ever received about playing?

Have no regrets. That’s the big thing. That came from a sports psychologist Hugh Campbell. He worked with Armagh.

What was the best thing about playing in your era?

The enjoyment. Cavan were going rightly at the beginning. I enjoyed meeting people. I enjoyed the supporters. Playing with new fellas. Making friends.

What was the worst thing about playing your era?

Too many people knew you. If you were out you couldn’t hide. You might have only been out for a meal and you would fear being criticised for being out, even if you weren’t drinking. I remember one night picking up the brother from a night club. I told him that I wasn’t going near the nightclub. I picked him up out the road at three in the morning. I don’t remember meeting a car when I drove him home. But when I went to training the next morning at nine o’clock, the manager called me over and asked why I was out in Cavan at three in the morning. I don’t remember meeting anyone on the road that night.

When did you know it was time to call it quits?

I am still playing club football. For county, I just didn’t get a phone call and that was the end of me. Tommy Carr was the manager. He never rang me to say that I was off the panel or anything.

What interesting or funny story may readers not know about you or one of your former teammates?

I have a desperate memory. Back a few years ago at the anniversary of 1997. Boys were telling stories and I didn’t remember any of them. The best story was Larry and Peter’s brother. He played for the u-21s. He took up this crazy notion that you should put jam on your hands to catch the ball. You should have seen him. You’d have thought he’d put half the jam in the county on his hands. He had to wash his hands. He was covered in jam.

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