by Ryan McCann
There is a horrible feeling of déjà vu writing this status and I still can’t process the words that will follow. I had to do this 20 months ago when we lost Gary Murphy and I hoped that would be the last time I’d lose a friend and teammate until I was grey and old. But life doesn’t always work that way. I’ll be reiterating a lot of things everyone has already covered but I need to get it off my chest.
I first met Mickey in the early 90s. We were Allenhillians. Immediate bond. My uncle Timmy used to get all the McConville brothers to perform a bit of child labour when they were off for the summer and Mickey was always the one I remember talking to the most. He was the one that loved the football.
He was a few years older than me but I always felt comfortable talking to him. Corner-back on that MacLarnon team that we all strived to be better than when we went to St Micks. No such luck, what a team!
A few things stand out from our time at Clann Eireann. The first night at senior training is always daunting for any young lad and Mickey made it even worse when you were paired to do laps with him. That ankle of his has kept him on the sidelines for a few seasons but when he was younger, the man could run.
On the pitch he was an absolute warrior. Smallest man on the field but game as a badger for a bit of scrapping. Never once backed out of a tackle. Heart of a lion – that’s all you need sometimes.
When he used to slag my Irish News articles with Tyrone players I’d joke that he accumulated more red cards than points in his career. He was a man that just loved the GAA and when the leather got crusty on his boots, he turned to coaching. He’s helped morph the best Clann Eireann youth setup we have ever had and he was loved and adored by everyone that went through that U16 team. Thanks to Mickey and his fellow coaches, we are only scratching the surface on this path of success we have embarked upon as a club. Your legacy will last a lifetime.
I’ll not miss the horrific dance music but them blonde streaks will never be forgotten.
I’m just heartbroken that I won’t get to say goodbye to you at home. I simply can’t afford flights. 11,000 miles from Lurgan and I might as well be on another planet. But just know that I love you and I am proud to have sweated, bled and fought alongside you.
In fact, I love all my friends and I want you to talk to me if you are in any sort of darkness because I will get you out and back to safety. There’s an amazing awareness group in our town called PIPS and please contact them if you need to talk. Remove the stigma and we’ll beat this silent and debilitating illness.
Anyway, I’ve gone on too long as usual. I’ll get myself gathered here, go down to the beach and release a balloon for you. When you’re finished raving with Murphy, reach down and grab it. I’m just not ready to let you go yet.
I love you and we all miss you already but I know the big fella will look after you. No more pain friend, no more pain.
Your spirit and mind are now at rest but you’ll always be full of life in my heart.
Goodbye my friend, up the Eireann.