*Ciaran Russell drives forward as Brendan Rouine gives chase. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
When it comes to Éire Óg’s footballers winning senior titles, Peter Cosgrove has been an ever-present figure.
He was a dominant presence at midfield when the Ennis club ended Doonbeg’s aspirations of winning three senior championships in a row back in 2000, this win was the first time Éire Óg won the senior title having previously done so under the banner of Ennis Dalcassians and Ennis Faughs. Six years on, Cosgrave was back in the middle of Cusack Park as they held off the challenge of Lissycasey to claim the honours.
Fast forward to 2021 and the FBD Insurance employee is part of Paul Madden’s management in what is his third stint as a senior selector to the club having previously worked under James Hanrahan and Martin Daly.
Madden didn’t have much persuading to do to get Peter to come on board. “It didn’t take much selling, I’d be friends with Paul for a long time, I’m a clubman so I’d obviously go to all the games, I’ve been to them over the last few years and I’ve seen the players and the potential in them, I’ve seen the disappointment when they’ve gone out at the quarter-final stages, there was no convincing, when he asked me I was excited to be involved, I’m a clubman at the end of the day so I wasn’t going to say no to somebody who approached me”.
A former Clare footballer, he outlined that maintaining an involvement in some capacity helps to feed the competitive edge. “The passion doesn’t change, you’re going to support your club whether you are involved or not, it is just more time consuming being involved. Winning championship games is more enjoyable when you are involved, you still go out and celebrate when you’re not involved but when you are involved it makes it a little more rewarding. The day to day involvement makes each individual win a little more enjoyable”.
Nerves are greater for Cosgrove now than during his playing days, he admitted. “You’ve less control. Before the semi-final I was saying to the guys I’d be less nervous if I was playing, when you’re playing you feel you can influence it, when things start going wrong you think roll up the sleeves and you can try influence it. I’m a far worse spectator than I was a player”.
From Gallows Hill, Peter lived just 300 yards from the club grounds when growing up. Despite the club’s location in the town, he doesn’t expect the hype to be wild ahead of Sunday’s decider. “Ennis is different to every other town and village in the county, I always say Éire Óg is a small club in a big town, that is the reality, if you go to any Éire Óg game you could nearly name the people there because it’s the same crew, they are incredibly loyal supporters of the club, you don’t get the hype you might get in other towns and villages around the county, it’s not to say that players care any less, it is about managing hype, some players thrive on the hype and others don’t like it at all. You don’t get the same hype in Ennis as you might in Kilmurry Ibrickane or other places, it’s not to say the players don’t care as much”.
Éire Óg’s current panel “compare well” with the sides of 2000 and 2006, Peter believed. “They are a team with potential but potential is nothing until it is materialised, until you realise your potential then you can look back and say they’re a good team, they’re a good bunch of fellas, they’re good footballers, every bit as good as the 2000 and the 2006 successful teams that I played on but they haven’t won anything yet, hopefully Sunday will give them a chance to prove what they are capable of. Win or lose on Sunday, I would still say they are a good bunch of lads, I won’t pin it all on the result, they compare favourable to every team I’ve been on”.
How instructions are taken on board and applied has impressed the selector during his return to management while he noted the amount of dual-players within Éire Óg is rising. Regardless of the generation, Peter listed a strong bond within a panel, friendships and respect for both teammates and management as key aspects needed for any successful team, “it’s a different world, psyche and mentality but the camaraderie is something I always look back on, the friends I had in that team are still my friends, the group today have an element of that too”.
Traits are similar between the Éire Óg side that made the breakthrough in 2000 and the class of 2021, whether the current crop can add one more common denominator by becoming county champions will be revealed on Sunday evening.