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Oldies can still be goodies - Mick O'Dwyer and Giovanni Trapattoni dig their heels in and carry on

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Wicklow Manager Mick O'Dwyer pictured during the National football league division four clash at Fraher Field Dungarvan. (Photo:Michael Kiely.)
Wicklow Manager Mick O'Dwyer pictured during the National football league
division four clash at Fraher Field Dungarvan. (Photo:Michael Kiely.)
One of Ireland’s most famous sports writers of another generation received a set of golf clubs from his colleagues when he retired from one of our national newspapers about a decade or so ago.

A keen golfer, our friend was delighted with the gift but so anti-retirement that he hardly ever used the new clubs.

Not that he got much chance to. Within a year of his retirement, a fate thrust on him by the laws of the land and not by choice, the man was dead.

Those who knew him best have often told me that he died of two things – a broken heart and boredom.

After years traveling the highways and byways of Ireland and the greater globe, this man just couldn’t cope with the emptiness of a life where nothing more exciting than the local golf course was waiting around the corner.

It’s not an unusual tale. Many men and women threaten to retire early, look to live the easy life when 50 appears on the clock of life. But how often do they see the promise through?

Of course, some who monitor such situations will tell you that old people working beyond their expected retirement age is a selfish ideal, that it denies young people their right to a proper job for proper money.

They may well have a point, but as a self-confessed workaholic I side with the man who never really wanted the golf clubs, his equivalent of a gold watch.

I intend to keep on annoying people and Kerry supporters with columns like this one for as long as I possibly can.  Sure, that 50 barrier is fast approaching and I have no doubt that when I was younger I fancied an easy life at this stage of my mental development and physical expansion.

I still fancy the Portuguese sunshine and the regular golf so readily available on the Algarve, but now I cannot foresee a day when such activity would fill my day, if you know what I mean.

That’s why I can understand, to a degree, why Giovanni Trapattoni dug his heels in last month when it seemed certain his days as Ireland manager were over. Even at 73 he wants to work, he wants something to do, he wants to keep his mind occupied.

The same applies to Mick O’Dwyer, who returned to work this week in the role the Kerry legend knows best – as the manager of an inter-county football team.

Micko is back, with Clare as it happens, just months after the death of his beloved wife Mary left a huge void in his life.

As he said in more than one interview this week, he found it difficult to cope with an empty house and an empty life in the weeks after his wife lost her battle with illness.

The call to arms from Clare, a county not known for its football brilliance or tradition it has to be said, proved too strong for Micko to turn down.

Just as he aided Wicklow, Kildare, Laois and even his own Kerry in the past, the Kingdom legend is going to try and work the magic with Clare all over again.

It won’t be easy. They may have made it to the Munster final this year, but Clare haven’t been able to get out of Division Four of the National Football League for some time now.

They have some good footballers but few great ones. What they will get from Micko is leadership, experience and a kick up the arse when they need it. All that is guaranteed under his tutelage.

What Micko will get from all of this is satisfaction and happiness.

At a time in his life when loneliness had crept in, he will feel wanted again. He will feel alive, invigorated by the challenge that awaits him on the playing fields of Clare.

The fact that he is 76 now – and will be 77 by the time Clare play their first championship match under his term in office – doesn’t seem to worry O’Dwyer or his new bosses.

And if he feels up to the job, ready for the job and able for the job, why should the rest of us doubt him?

Welcome back Micko and good luck – younger men have failed to bring the glory days back to Clare so feel free to give it your best shot.

(Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin.)

Sideline Views

SOCCER:
Great story in England’s lower division where the MK Dons have been drawn against AFC Wimbledon in the second round of the FA Cup – if they both win their first round replays. In case you don’t know, the MK Dons are the old Wimbledon who won the FA Cup in 1988 and caused consternation when the team was moved a hundred miles up the road to Milton Keynes. The old Wimbledon fans, incensed by the move, formed a new club called AFC Wimbledon and have worked their way into the Football League from the old club’s original base in South London. There won’t be a seat unsold for this one if it happens.

SOCCER:
Great to see another former League of Ireland player make a big career move in England after Enda Stevens made his Premier League debut for Aston Villa in the win against Sunderland at the weekend. Stevens, bought from Shamrock Rovers earlier this year, could now start against Manchester United on Saturday. The other good news for Irish fans from Villa Park is that Richard Dunne is back training again and looking to play before Christmas. The sooner the better – for club and country.

SOCCER:
Giovanni Trapattoni may have hung onto his Irish job by the skin of his teeth, but Scotland boss Craig Levein hasn’t been so lucky and finally lost his position on Monday. Levein lost out after just three wins in 12 games and with World Cup qualification already all but beyond the Scots. Trap survived because the FAI can’t afford to sack him but the Levein tale may worry him. As it should.

HURLING: The big news for Kilkenny fans on Tuesday was confirmation from Henry Shefflin that he will be back in the county colors next season. That’s bad news for anyone with their eye Kilkenny’s All-Ireland title as Shefflin is determined to become the first player ever to win 10 MacCarthy Cup medals. When he does, and he will, he will definitely be the greatest hurler ever.

RUGBY: Businessman Denis O’Brien and U2 singer Bono are just two of the names supporting a testimonial dinner for the Irish rugby captain Brian O’Driscoll in London next year. The event, to celebrate Dricco’s outstanding career, will benefit charity as well as the player but tickets won’t be cheap. One report over the weekend claims they could cost $750 each. Ouch.

GOLF: Nice moment in China last week when Rory McIlroy interrupted his lucrative exhibition match with Tiger Woods to swing one of his opponent’s Nike clubs. That photo didn’t cost Nike anything but apparently they are about to shell out $250 million to sign Rory up to a 10-year sponsorship deal. Nice work if you can get it.

SOCCER: Nice line from Mick McCarthy before he made a winning start to his new job as manager of Ipswich Town. Noticing Roy Keane’s name just one name above his on the management roll of honor at Portman Road, Mick remarked, “There’s only about an inch between us – and that’s the closest we’ve been in years!”

HERO OF THE WEEK

IT takes a brave man to get into a boxing ring and it takes a braver man to admit to his mistake.  John Joe Nevin proved his braveness as a boxer when he won an Olympic silver medal in London last August, and on Tuesday he proved his braveness as a man when he admitted it was a mistake to say he was turning professional. Nevin has now confirmed that he will remain an amateur, fight in the world series of boxing and walk away from a lucrative pro contract offer from Britain’s Amir Khan. There were no guarantees for Nevin in the pro game and at least he was wise enough – and brave enough - to make this decision before it was too late.

IDIOTS OF THE WEEK
FOOTBALLERS are getting abused all over England at an alarming rate of late as the many recent racism rows will testify, so the idiots who decided to give the St. Patrick’s Athletic goalkeeper Brendan Clarke stick online for his FAI Cup final mistake on Sunday deserve to be ridiculed for mimicking the English morons. Pats have vowed to bring the abusers to justice. They have to.

  

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