Given our club’s propensity to waste money, it’s perhaps surprising that we were slow to embrace the trend of external managers.

It meant that Teddy Farrell never got to don our manager’s bib during his heyday. A bus driver, he was christened ‘The Conductor’ after winning a few county titles with his native Rathgrealish, then picking up more on his travels. The joke was that he wanted to manage in every town and village on his route.

There was rivalry between our club and him as his teams beat us in a couple of notable games. And there was his dislike for Mick Nyhan, a tireless centre-back. In one final, Mick grew so sick of Farrell’s constant sniping from the sidelines that he asked, “Are you afraid that if you shut up, you’ll forget which club you were with this week?” Farrell’s team still won, but his pride was dented, and he didn’t forget Mick Nyhan.

Recent times saw Farrell failing to keep up with the modern game. While he hadn’t officially retired, he wasn’t getting the big gigs anymore.

Camogie conflict

This partly explains how he came to take charge of our team. After a few years of under-achievement, some of the team suggested him as a left field candidate, believing his no-nonsense methods might generate something. The team was sponsored by Paul Hayes’s car dealership and, ever the opportunist, he was willing to throw in some extra money to cover Farrell’s “expenses”.

A group of players breaking through won a minor county title and an upturn in fortunes was expected anyway. Not that it was a completely happy camp.

Síle McGuckin was the goalkeeper at the beginning of the year, but she left early in the campaign after a performance appraisal that offered few positives. When Farrell critiqued her puckout, shot-stopping ability and general play, Síle said he made her feel useless. “No, you’re not,” he said, “you’d have to improve dramatically to be useless.”

Holding a grudge

Mick Nyhan’s daughter Michelle was captain. A fearless wing-back, she knew what she was capable of and, just as importantly, knew what she was not, which made her a great team player. However, with Farrell still holding a grudge, she was relieved of her duties. Adding insult to injury, three other players were given the title joint captain.

Having been tipped off by her father that something like this might happen, Michelle remained professional. After the team scraped past Glanduff in the county semi-final, she suggested that it might be worth practising scenarios in training.

“We did this when I was on the Ireland U16 basketball squad,” she said. ‘Rather than just having a match in training, we did stuff like, what happens if we’re five down with five left.”

Farrell enjoyed that one. “How’s this for a scenario – Lizzie Lawless took you for five points from play the other night. You should have thrown two three-pointers!”

As the final against Ballinakeen approached, Michelle sensed her starting spot was under threat. When she asked Farrell who she’d be marking, he said that she’d find out on Sunday.

The final was set for Páirc Éanna, home of St Enda’s GAA Club in Garryndruig. As Farrell had managed the town’s other club, Druig Rovers, he was able to secure their smaller ground for a puckaround and warm-up beforehand.

Michelle was in the dressing room there when her father rang. “You were right about being dropped,” he said, “but you’re not even in the squad. He’s only named six subs.”


She considered letting Farrell have it in front of everyone. Some of her colleagues offered not to play, but she knew that it would affect the team’s chances. In any case, it mattered little as morale was affected and Ballinakeen sauntered to victory.

They’d have got rid of him anyway, but, with Farrell’s name back in circulation, he was gone the minute a job with a men’s team came up. With Nóirín Byrne drafted in as manager and Michelle back in the team, the camogie team went one better without him and won the county.

A few months later, Michelle was waiting for a bus when her heart sank on seeing who was driving it.

After the three people in front of her got on, Farrell said, “Sorry, it’s full now and health and safety won’t let passengers stand anymore.”

Michelle replied, “How long will the next one be?”

“About the same length as this one,” said Farrell with a smirk.

To this, Michelle hit back, “And will there be an ignorant ape driving that one too?”

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