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Coleraine are sure to make a big splash in Ulster showdown

 

By Declan Bogue

They're a bit different in Coleraine.

For instance, while Scotstown captain Darren Hughes will be up at first light these mornings milking his herd of cattle, their opponents in tomorrow's Ulster club semi-final - Eoghan Rua Coleraine - will be in the water at Portstewart, catching some waves.

None of them fit the profile of a surfer, as their man-bunned defender Ruairi Mooney explains: "Aye, we would be down three or four mornings in the week before we go off to work, getting a wee session in, catching the waves!

"We would normally go down, there would be five or six of us. Ciaran Lenahan is big into it. He is massive into that sort of thing, he would be the 'guru' (laughs).

"Boys would try to get down there for quarter to seven. Once you get used to it, it is not really an effort, just part of the whole routine and helps with recovery, I suppose. But it isn't the main reason we do it. I don't know if you would call it a lifestyle, but when you live right beside the sea you might as well."

As an illustration of how Eoghan Rua are a little different, this is only a starting point.

Progress of the club was accelerated by the arrival of the University of Ulster campus in Coleraine in 1968. From all over Ulster came lecturers and teachers who were steeped in the GAA.

Most importantly, Sean McGoldrick arrived from Belfast, where he was a prominent member of the St Theresa's club. Tomorrow, he co-manages Eoghan Rua just an hour's football away from making the Ulster senior club final. Five of his sons, Ciaran, Colm, Barry, Liam and Sean Leo are playing, all of whom have represented Derry.

They have quality throughout the squad but are still something of a novelty, even within their own county.

Ruairi's father, Hugh Mooney, was another who arrived to take up a PE teaching role in the new college. From Edendork in Tyrone, he had a GAA pedigree and over time, he would discover the charms of Eoghan Rua.

He now forms part of the backroom team, but management is another aspect of this club that is handled a little differently.

Last year Eoghan Rua won the All-Ireland Sevens tournament played the day before the All-Ireland final at Kilmacud Crokes.

A couple of days later, the aforementioned Sean McGoldrick was invited to luxuriate in their achievement but, instead, displayed his total lack of ego by stating: "We have a bunch of players who are quite talented footballers. To be honest, they don't need a lot of management. They are playing the game today, they probably know more about this game than I do.

"The game they play today is a very different game than the one I play. That group we have today are mature. They don't require management."

Mooney (23) goes along with that, but only to a certain extent.

"There is a huge influence from the two Seans," he says.

"But you are never going to hear Sean over at the players on matchday barking orders and instructing the whole thing.

"It's at the stage now where everyone knows what is expected of them and they don't need to be checked up on." That filters down to all aspects of their preparation.

There is no set gym-programmes, but the players were all introduced to and inducted in the gym by club member Seamus Reynolds who is a fitness coach with Coleraine Rowing Club.

After that, it's down to themselves and looking at Mooney, he hasn't made the progression to Derry senior footballer by chance.

His debut came this year in the McKenna Cup against Jordanstown and he left with the man of the match award.

A dual player who played in the 2016 All-Ireland Junior hurling club final defeat by Kilkenny's Glenmore, he was an integral part of the St Mary's Belfast team that shocked the world by winning the 2017 Sigerson Cup.

The morning of the final, sensing a tense camp, manager Paddy Tally encouraged Mooney to get his guitar out and the singsong lasted for an hour, soothing frayed nerves.

Some time ago, he helped out with forming a concept of 'Rainbow Gloves'. Murphy's Gloves created the limited edition order that was sold, with all proceeds going to mental health charity Aware and The Rainbow Project, which offers help for the LGBT community.

"There is a greater focus on Mental Health awareness nowadays and we wanted to create something that would be relatable for students, families and everyone in the GAA community," explains Mooney.

"It was an idea that sort of came from the Rainbow Laces campaign in the Premier League and we were in a position to setup up something unique linked with the Gaelic sports."

So yeah, he's interesting. Considerate. A 'groovy guy' according to one of his student friends. But still a serious competitor who stands one game away from an Ulster club final.

Mooney recognises Scotstown will take the favourites' tag because of their fame, but adds: "When we talk about that, we are talking about reputations there and the history of a club. That doesn't really matter on the day. It matters what team turns up and what kind of performance you can put on.

"It doesn't always mean that the most prestigious club will come through and win on the day. It's just down to what performance you can put together and how well you can play on the day. That's what we will be thinking."

Eoghan Rua

Scotstown

Ulster Club SFC Semi-final :

Healy Park, Tomorrow, 1.30pm

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