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Donie helps Clann na nGael keep on shining

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08 Nov 2018

Posted in:  Club , Roscommon GAA and Football

BY SHANE STAPLETON

Donie Shine doesn't ever expect to challenge his dad’s number of titles with Clann na nGael.

The men in blue won their 21st Roscommon crown in recent weeks, and last weekend ousted Tir Chonaill Gaels at the quarter-final stage of the AIB Connacht Club Championship.

Next up in a provincial semi-final clash with the kings of the land, Corofin, and few will expect the Rossies side to take down the Galway kingpins. The last time Clann na nGael made it this far was in 2015, their first appearance in the provincial club championship for 19 years, and they were shell-shocked by three first-half goals by Castlebar Mitchels. The underdogs brought it back to within a point, before losing by four in the end.                    

Shine junior was delighted to collect his second county medal in mid-October after hitting 1-7 against St Brigid’s, but he has a long way to go to match Donie senior, who sadly passed away in 2017.

The latter won seven SFC titles as a player before taking over as manager. Under his tutelage, the club would win eight county titles in-a-row, claim six Connacht championships in succession, and reach five All-Ireland finals. At the time, they were one of the big hitters of the land, and few club sides have ever played to such a consistently high level.

They never quite made it over the line on those big days at Croke Park, coming up short against Portlaoise in 1983 and St Finbarr’s (’87), St Mary’s Burren (’88), Nemo Rangers (’89) and Baltinglass (’90).

“I understand that they had a very strong team,” says 29-year-old Donie. “They had some serious players on the team, like Tony McManus, Enda McManus, Eamonn ‘junior’ McManus, there was a serious crew of lads there. A lot of them are still involved and what they achieved was incredible and was maybe something similar to what Corofin are doing now.

“Corofin have managed to get over the line with a couple of All-Irelands but it was amazing what was achieved by our club winning all those Connacht titles in a row. I’m coming towards the end of my career and I’ve only two county titles, so I don’t think I’ll ever get near those numbers.”

Given the heartache suffered on a number of St Patrick’s Days over the years, it would be understandable if people in the Clann na nGael club feel as though they have unfinished business with the AIB All-Ireland Club Championship. It will have hurt to see rivals St Brigid’s — they of Frankie Dolan, Shane ‘Cake’ Curran and Co — lift the Andy Merrigan title in 2013, so no doubt it’s something Shine’s crew would like to address at some point.

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His father and that era had some amazing times, and Donie junior heard about it all his life. Too often in sport, the first question asked of a team is ‘what did you win?’, which the younger Shine feels is somewhat reductive.

“Even if you look at Dr Croke’s, up until they won a club All-Ireland until 2017, they were not rated even though they had won the province because they hadn’t gotten across the line.”

After stuttering past Tir Chonaill Gaels of London by just five points, it might be a bit early in this Clann na nGael side’s development to be looking too far ahead. “If you look at some of the teams of the past, with a bit of momentum, you wouldn’t know where you’d go.

“There is a bit of expectation and I think lads are enjoying getting out of the county and looking at a provincial run. We still have a lot of support from the past teams of Clann na nGael. I think it is a goal in the back of every player’s mind and, I’ll have to see how I can put this now, maybe there is a bit of unfinished business in terms of losing five finals. I don’t think we’re at that level yet. If we can somehow scrape through against Corofin on Sunday, we’ll reassess and see where we can take it then.”

Shine was a precocious talent within the county. He was the star of the Roscommon team that beat Kerry in the 2006 All-Ireland minor football final and put 0-10 beside his name during the 2010 Connacht SFC final win over Sligo. Injuries have plagued him over the years, and the classy forward last played for Roscommon in 2016.

“I had a lot of injuries from 2012 onwards. I did my cruciate in 2014 against Mayo, and I had constant hamstring problems before that. There were seasons there where I was in and out, wasn’t getting enough training, I was missing a lot and you would be very rusty from it. I lost a few seasons through injury that way. In 2015 and 2016, I got back. But in terms of pressure, it wouldn’t have bothered me too much, to be honest.”

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The county days are behind Shine now and all that matters just now is the club, and this Sunday at Dr Hyde Park (1.30pm). They’ll certainly need to improve from their last outing.

“Tir Chonaill Gaels were a decent side and I didn’t buy into his idea that you should be beating a London side well,” says Shine. “They have a decent pick there and they moved the ball very well, were organised. Any team managed by Paul Coggins (ex-London manager) is always going to be like that. We weren’t at 100% but were happy to get the win.

“I don’t think we’ll be nervous,” he says of facing the All-Ireland champions. “We have a lot of lads who won minor and Under-21 titles and, psychologically, we have nothing to lose. All the expectation is on Corofin and we can go out and have a cut.

“Back in 2015, I don’t think we focused on Connacht the way we should have,” he says of the Castlebar loss. “I think it was halfway through that game before we realised that we were in it. We started poorly and lost three goals in the first 15 minutes, and if we came out of the blocks quicker we had a chance. We want to have a run in Connacht but maybe we’re unfortunate to be running into the All-Ireland champions, but we have a lot of young lads who will want to give it a right cut and hopefully it will be a good experience on Sunday.”

The county days are behind Shine now and all that matters just now is the club, and this Sunday at Dr Hyde Park (1.30pm). They’ll certainly need to improve from their last outing.

“Tir Chonaill Gaels were a decent side and I didn’t buy into his idea that you should be beating a London side well,” says Shine. “They have a decent pick there and they moved the ball very well, were organised. Any team managed by Paul Coggins (ex-London manager) is always going to be like that. We weren’t at 100% but were happy to get the win.


“I don’t think we’ll be nervous,” he says of facing the All-Ireland champions. “We have a lot of lads who won minor and Under-21 titles and, psychologically, we have nothing to lose. All the expectation is on Corofin and we can go out and have a cut.

“Back in 2015, I don’t think we focused on Connacht the way we should have,” he says of the Castlebar loss. “I think it was halfway through that game before we realised that we were in it. We started poorly and lost three goals in the first 15 minutes, and if we came out of the blocks quicker we had a chance. We want to have a run in Connacht but maybe we’re unfortunate to be running into the All-Ireland champions, but we have a lot of young lads who will want to give it a right cut and hopefully it will be a good experience on Sunday.”

 

*Connacht club SFC semi-final: Corofin (Galway) v  Clann Na nGael (Roscommon), Dr.Hyde Park, 1.30pm

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