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Lifting the lid on life at field of dreams

By Declan Bogue

There is a scene that goes to the very heart of the issue of honesty in sport in the upcoming True North BBC documentary on Crossmaglen Rangers, due to be screened this Monday night (BBC NI1, 9pm).

Joint-manager Oisín McConville is talking about how some players were dropped from the team for not observing an alcohol ban, and states: "There is no integrity in this room."

He then goes on to relate his first day in a Galway rehabilitation facility for his gambling addiction, and the advice that a nun gave him, to "stick with the winners".

Speaking now, McConville is pleased with the finished documentary and happy with his choice to lay himself bare.

"The boys don't realise it, but they are part of my therapy sometimes," he says.

"I just think that the only thing you have as a manager is a belief that the only thing you can draw on are your own experiences.

"You can give people an insight into yourself, your thinking, and that way you gain more trust. I don't know if that was the case or not. Even if it was the case that I put it out there and it didn't do what I was looking it to do, then so what? It was still worth saying, because I don't have anything to hide, really."

In 2008, McConville brought out a ghosted autobiography, entitled 'The Gambler' that dealt with his addiction. Since his recovery, he has become a counsellor and sits on the GAA's scientific, health and welfare committee.

He believes that his honesty over his issues is essential to him. "I suppose it's important when people see the work I am doing, the bread and butter stuff, then it makes them realise the way I live my life, has to be the way I live my life," he told The Belfast Telegraph.

'Field of Dreams' offers a fly-on-the-wall perspective of the most revered club in Ulster and captures some intimate moments over the past two seasons. However, defeat in the All-Ireland semi-final to Castlebar Mitchells last month prevented it from having a fairytale ending.

It's a sporting failure that McConville admits to struggling with.

"All we wanted to do was to get to Paddy's Day and finish the job. The fact that we didn't do that really, really hurts, to be honest," he says.

Speaking prior to Thursday's All-Ireland final, he said: "One of the things I thought about today was how different it would be preparing for Thursday. There wouldn't have been a pile of work done, it would have been preparation for Thursday. I got a sick feeling in my stomach as a result of it."

The documentary is complied and narrated by BBC NI's Thomas Niblock, who has been developing the idea for five years. He found himself delighted with the finished product and the level of unprecedented access to a dressing room that has become shrouded in mystique in the game.

"Honestly, from day one there was never a problem in any way," said Niblock.

"I am not naive so I have no doubt that some might have been wary, I don't know. But I know if you brought a camera into the Magherafelt changing rooms there would be three or four boys who would not be one bit impressed.

"Ultimately, they had no problem with it because Oisín and John signed off on it at the start of the year."

Belfast Telegraph


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