My old coach, Joe Maleady of St Lomans GAA club with the help of the Westmeath County Board was able to send over some O’Neills for our Schools program and this was greatly appreciated by everyone involved with Gaelic Football in Hanoi.
It was fitting that the O’Neills arrived to us on the weekend that St Lomans finally ended 50 years of pain on 13 October 2013 by winning the Westmeath Senior Gaelic Football Championship for the first time since 1963.
That weekend, the Viet Celts were at the Asian Gaelic Games in KL, Malaysia and whilst at times, it was difficult to hold onto our shiny new O’Neills at the tournament, we managed to get all five of them back to Hanoi.
St Lomans’ won the Championship, League and Feis Cup in 2013 and this magnificent treble warmed the heart and kidneys, if not the liver, of every St Lomans’ exile. Congratulations to the team, management and the club.
Thanks to Joe, my brother Larry Kiernan and VC star forward, Shane Moran for some immaculate passing on Westmeath territory between the three of them and a dodgy handover in a car park in Kinnegad to get the O’Neills eastward bound to Asia.
We had a immense amount of success under Joe over the years at underage level (U12-U21) winning many county titles with a well drilled and stylish team. Unfortunately this is one that got away, Westmeath Minor (U18) County Final 1992. Nearly twenty two years later, I still wake up in the middle of the night with nightmares about that game.
For anyone who has gone through the trauma of losing a minor (U18) county final, Colm Ross and John’ Bones’ Campbell will be organising a therapy clinic on the subject after Christmas.