'Multy' full of purpose ahead of AIB Club Junior Football Final
By John Harrington
Running out onto the Croke Park pitch will be a real ‘pinch me’ moment for all of Multyfarnham’s footballers when they face Knocknagree in Saturday’s AIB All-Ireland Club Junior Football Final.
Only one of their team – Danny Loughrey – has played at headquarters before, and his childhood experience of playing a few minutes of a Cumann na mBunscol game at half-time in a Leinster SFC match is unlikely to have prepared him for what’s to come.
The truth of the matter is that the Westmeath club have very little experience of the limelight.
Until relatively recently they would have been perennial punch-bags in the Westmeath Junior Championship, but, according to star player Ronan Wallace, that all changed when the club begun putting a huge emphasis on underage development.
“It’s been 61 years since this club won a Westmeath title like,” said Wallace. “They won the junior in 1956, and they came back down then from intermediate a few years after.
“We’ve been junior since then, and ten, fifteen years ago, we were probably the worst team in Westmeath at junior level.
“Losing matches by 30 points by 40 points, but some lads in this club, the work they’ve done with the underage structures over the last few years - it’s been absolutely incredible and that’s really stood to us.
“It’s one of the best underage systems I’ve ever seen. The work that goes in, it’s unbelievable. There are teams going from under-5s and sixes to junior. They’re getting solid numbers, like 20s and 30s there.
“It’s unreal for a rural area. A lot of it is to do with the parents and other lads from Multy, they have the best interests of the club at heart.”
Multyfarnham were a long time trying to win a Westmeath title, so when they finally got over the line in their own county it was a weight off their shoulders.
That enabled them to tackle the Leinster and All-Ireland series in a really positive frame of mind that has helped get them through some epic encounters.
“It’s been a great road,” said Wallace. “At the start of the year, we just set out to win the Westmeath title - that was our main goal.
“If you told us then we were going to be in an All-Ireland final in February, we wouldn’t have known what to think of it.
“We lost county finals in 2014, 2015 and a semi in 2016. Like that was so much heartbreak, and finally, we got over the line this year. That drove us on. Lads are a lot older now and more experienced and our young lads are standing up this year and that’s what’s got us this far.
“We just keep working, the tight games are standing to us, like. In the Lahardane game (All-Ireland semi-final), we were down by four points, we went up by four, it came back to a draw game. It was crazy stuff, and we kicked on in injury time.
“They’ve been high scoring games, our game plan is to attack, we’ve serious athletes and serious footballers, and I’m sure the Cork team will be similar on Saturday, and it’ll be an entertaining game.
“The lads have been doing our homework, the lads have been looking at them and we’ll be ready come Saturday. We’ll step onto the pitch with every confidence of winning.”