|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
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