Conor Garvey has an extra-special reason for hoping to land a Down championship medal when he lines out for Mayobridge against Kilcoo in Sunday’s final at Pairc Esler, Newry.
An embarrassing administrative mix-up ended Garvey’s chances of playing in the Ulster final against Donegal during the summer when his plea for leniency to the Central Appeals Committee was thrown out because his €100 appeal fee did not arrive in Croke Park on time.
Garvey had been hit with a retrospective ban after the Central Competitions Control Committee studied video evidence which showed he appeared to stamp on Monaghan’s Karl O’Connell in the Ulster semi-final win over Monaghan.
The player took his case to the Central Hearings Committee which upheld his one-match ban and when he then took it to the Appeal Committee the subsequent administrative faux pas effectively confirmed his non-appearance in the Ulster final.
It emerged though that Down officials had made every effort to comply with the regulations governing the lodging of appeal monies but the clock beat them in the end.
Ironically, Garvey’s regular place at left-half-back in the Down side was taken by Kilcoo player Aidan Branagan who will be playing against him on Sunday.
Garvey’s abrasive qualities and battling spirit have been much in evidence as Mayobridge have powered their way into another final, their hunger and resolve never more apparent than when they totally outclassed Longstone in the semi-final.
Kilcoo, champions three years ago, know that they will have to play above themselves if they are to have any chance of denying Mayobridge what would be a stunning ninth county crown since 1999.
Garvey admits that he was “utterly devastated” to have missed the Ulster final with Down and is now hoping that Mayobridge can win the county title and move into the Ulster Club championship.
“It would be great if we could get over Kilcoo on Sunday but we are certainly taking nothing for granted,” says Garvey.
“This is going to be one hard game for us.
“What happened in the summer is over and done now and I just want to do my best for my club.”
Ten years ago new Derry manager Brian McIver was at the helm of operations when Ballinderry won the All-Ireland club title for the first and only time in their history.
It was a triumph that was to project the softly-spoken McIver and his players into the limelight and give the lough shore club with an entirely new image.
On Sunday McIver will once again be passionately hoping to see Ballinderry claim silverware only this time from an entirely different perspective.
When the team faces Slaughtneil in the Derry senior football championship final at Celtic Park, McIver will not only be anxious that it can sustain its reputation as one of the power-brokers of Derry football but he is keeping his fingers crossed that the match will throw him up some interesting selection options as he prepares to compile his preliminary Oak Leaf squad for 2013.
Indeed, several of the Ballinderry players who scaled the heights under McIver’s baton a decade ago are expected to be in action again on Sunday.
Michael Conlan, Enda Muldoon, Kevin McGuckin and Conleith Gilligan are going as well as ever and are expected to set the tone for what could prove to be another success for the club.
But Slaughtneil are not short on talent. Patsy Bradley is back playing better than ever at midfield again after enduring a series of injury problems that restricted his involvement with the county team last year while Chrissy McKaigue is an assured full back and the Kellys, Jim and Padraig, are still noted score-getters up front.
The teams met four years ago in the Derry final when Ballinderry won by 0-10 to 0-8 but while McIver has perhaps a leaning towards a Ballinderry victory, his priority will be to unearth fresh talent for his county squad.