Shane Dempsey: 'It is a brilliant time'
By Cian O'Connell
Shane Dempsey’s schedule is packed, but as Christmas edges closer the talented DIT, St Loman’s, and Westmeath forward is simply relishing another critical match on Sunday.
Loman’s face Moorefield in the AIB Leinster Club SFC Final at O’Moore Park, while Dempsey is also busy preparing for the Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup which commences next month.
Dempsey’s Loman’s colleague, Billy O’Loughlin, is in charge of a promising DIT outfit so a nice balance is struck. Having initially qualified as a Primary Teacher at St Patrick’s Drumcondra, Dempsey is now enjoying studying a Masters in Business at DIT.
“It is a brilliant time,” Dempsey says about combining sport and college presently. “Even with the Masters I'm doing in DIT, that is keeping me busy on that front and then obviously with Loman's out on Sunday.
“It has been a long year, I'm probably playing since this time last year with Westmeath, but you don't notice when you are winning. It is great to be playing football, if we could do the business on Sunday it would be a huge bonus.”
Dempsey has arrived on the senior scene with impeccable timing as Loman’s have really started to stir in the midlands becoming a dominant force in Westmeath.
“My first year was the first year we won it in 50 years,” Dempsey laughs. “It wasn't as if we had been winning them all the time.
“We are after winning four out of the last five so it is just a great time. There is a great bunch of lads in the club, we've got a few good results in the last few years.”
Luke Dempsey has steered Loman’s to three county titles on the spin and his prior involvement with Moorefield provides another layer of intrigue.
“We won one, then we lost one and Luke came to us after winning two with Moorefield actually,” Dempsey states. “We are after winning three on the trot so Luke is after winning five Championships in a row between Moorefield and ourselves so it makes for an interesting final on Sunday.
“When he moved to Mullingar to teach in Rochfortbridge he played with Shamrocks for a certain time, he obviously went away to manage numerous teams and he ended up with us. He is like one of our own now. We wouldn't trade him for anyone.”
O’Loughlin is stitching a neat DIT team together once again too according to Dempsey. “The League was really all about getting to know new lads, even for myself I was just in doing a Masters so you are getting to know the place and the people,” Dempsey remarks.
“Other lads like Conor Loftus and Danny Kirby from Mayo, Sean Hurley from Kildare, a few lads from Cavan like Conor Madden so we have the makings of a good team. From meeting the lads we all get on like a house on fire, that is half the battle in College football. It is hard for the management getting lads training up to now, it can be difficult.
“We were going well before we got a bit of a hiding off UCC down in the Mardyke, but they are experts at playing down there and they were excellent that night. We will put the head down over Christmas so we can be well set for the Sigerson.
And O’Loughlin’s deep knowledge of the third level game is important too. “He has been involved with DIT for nine or 10 years, he is the manager this year,” Dempsey comments.
“Billy is great for getting lads together, every lad will enjoy Billy as a manager. He is very reasonable, he is a player himself so he knows what players expect and want in a manager. We had a decent League campaign, hopefully we can step it up for Sigerson.”
In the New Year Dempsey will also work with a new Westmeath boss with Colin Kelly replacing Tom Cribbin, who guided them to two provincial finals in 2015 and 2016.
“Tom Cribbin was my first manager with Westmeath so I don't know any different other than Tom,” Dempsey acknowledges. “With Colin coming in I've only spoken to him briefly a couple of times because Loman's is still on.
“We reached two Leinster finals in the last couple of years, they didn't go to plan, but we won Division Four last year and I'm sure we will focus on the League. Colin seems a nice man and from what I've heard he is a fierce nice fella and I know some guys from Louth, who speak very highly about him.”
Dempsey will be a central figure for Westmeath in 2018, but before then there is much to achieve with Loman’s and DIT. Every challenge will be embraced by Dempsey.