Molloy still feels cheated by Sigerson fixture clash
Corofin defender was forced to play for his club and NUI Galway on the same day
Corofin’s Kieran Molloy in action against Dr Crokes. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
He’s riding a remarkable wave of success, picking up silverware for fun, yet Corofin’s Kieran Molloy has admitted he still feels cheated and let down by GAA authorities.
The Galway defender is a back-to-back AIB All-Ireland club medallist and the AIB Club Footballer of the Year for 2018/2019 but he still winces at the one that got away – last year’s Sigerson Cup final.
He came on for NUI Galway in the 39th minute of that one-point defeat to UCD in Santry after memorably racing up the motorway from Tullamore where he’d competed for Corofin in the All-Ireland club semi-finals.
Liam Silke, Molloy’s Corofin clubmate – and incidentally the inaugural AIB Club Footballer of the Year – could have done the same and appeared for UCD but UCD’s management, on a point of player welfare, declined to do so.
To both players’ frustration, a similar headache arose again this year and this time Silke missed out on playing for UCD in their Sigerson Cup semi-final defeat.
As for Molloy, his management at NUI Galway successfully sought a postponement of their third-level game by a day though he still had to play two massive games on the same weekend.
“I definitely feel cheated by it, especially the first year,” said Molloy. “It was only 20 minutes I got and we lost that final by a point. I felt very hard done by. I’m still thinking about it.
“They didn’t take player welfare into account there at all. I don’t know why it wasn’t changed or anything this year but there was no consideration for the players that were involved.”
Molloy acknowledged the gravity of the word “cheated” but insisted that’s how he felt by being deprived of the opportunity to give NUI Galway his 100 per cent.
“Definitely did (feel that), yeah, by the GAA, definitely the first year,” said the talented wing-back. “This year, they put it off by a day I think, still it wasn’t enough time. It could have been put off by a week, at least.
“Liam had the same problem as well but they still didn’t sort it for him. And especially when there’s two different teams affected, if you were both in the same team, fair enough. (David) Shaw from Dr Crokes had the same thing as well. So three players in the All-Ireland semi-finals with their clubs and they still didn’t manage to sort it. I think it’s nonsense how it wasn’t sorted.”
Molloy, 22, has another year to run on his Project and Construction Management course in NUI Galway, so could run into the problem for the third year running in 2020.
“I’m hopeful it won’t happen again,” he said.
It could be seen as a good problem for Molloy considering that his talent has left his club, college and county all demanding his services.
The obvious fear is burnout for a player with precious little downtime but, aside from the frustration of the fixtures chaos, he hasn’t felt any ill-effects of serving so many masters.
“I’d say on the mental side of things, it has definitely helped me,” he said. “I’ve nearly been thrown into every situation possible at this stage.
“There hasn’t really been any stopping. It was three, four weeks after the All-Ireland that we were back into the club league. We were back in with Galway then the weekend after the All-Ireland. I’d exams myself, the Tuesday after the Sunday, so I didn’t get much celebrating in at all. Straight in, no celebrating, no stopping. Just keep going.”
If it all ends for Molloy and Galway on the steps of the Hogan Stand in September, it will have been more than worth the sacrifices.
He joked that Mayo winning the National League might even be a good omen.
“There’s a lad from Mayo at work, from Swinford, and there is a lot of chat to him about Mayo,” said Molloy, who is currently on a five-month work placement. “He’s over the moon that Mayo won the league but we keep reminding him that the last time Mayo won the league in 2001, Galway won the All-Ireland!”
Beating Dublin, or anyone else for that matter, isn’t out of the question this summer either.
“Last year Galway drew with Dublin in the league and were beaten in the final by a few points, then in the All-Ireland semi-final Galway were beaten again by not a huge margin at all,” said Molloy, one of four Corofin players on Kevin Walsh’s county panel. “I think if we get our heads right, definitely it can be done, and maybe we can scare Dublin a bit. But it’s very hard to do that to them.”