Adrian Reid enjoying latest Mattock Rangers adventure
By Cian O’Connell
The highly regarded former Louth star Adrian Reid smiles when Mattock Rangers’ past is mentioned.
His family has made a sterling contribution to the Mattock Rangers story throughout the decades so particular joy is taken from this AIB Leinster Club Intermediate Football Championship adventure. Saturday's tussle against Kilkenny's Mullinavat at the Gaelic Grounds in Drogheda is an eagerly anticipated encounter.
Reid was just beginning to make his mark as a promising teenager 17 years ago when Mattock Rangers followed their first Louth senior title by reaching a provincial decider before losing to Dunshaughlin.
“After our first Championship we ended up getting to a Leinster Final that year,” Reid recalls. “We have done relatively well any time we have been there, we have been competitive. It is just an honour to represent your club and county in Leinster, a lot of it stems from that.”
In recent years, though, operating in the Intermediate grade has brought a different challenge for Mattock, who triumphed at senior level in 2002, 2004, 2009, 2010. Adrian Reid played in the latter three triumphs, while his brother David was involved in the four victories.
“Yeah, too long,” Reid replies when asked about the stint in the Louth Intermediate ranks. “We got relegated in 2015 and it took us four years. We were beaten in finals and semi-finals.
“We always felt we were good enough to compete at senior, but being good enough doesn't mean you will be there. You have to earn that position to get back up. It is easier said than done.
“Intermediate Football in Louth is very competitive, there is no doubt about it. I wouldn't say we were caught on the hop, we were beaten by better teams on the day.
“This year, I think we put all of our focus on the Championship, on getting out of the Intermediate grade. Fortunately enough we got it this year.”
Reid is adamant about the promise which exists in Louth stressing the standard of the club game in the county.
“It definitely is, club football is very competitive in Louth,” Reid states. “You have skilful footballers in every county, it is just a pity we haven't really shown that enough at inter-county level.
“Definitely the players are there, maybe it is a matter of time before the county kicks on. Wayne Kierans is doing a fantastic job there at the minute.”
During Reid’s own playing career Louth threatened to earn promotion to Division One of the Allianz Football League. “We always felt that it was something we left behind not getting into Division One, to compete with the best,” Reid reflects.
“We competed in Division Two for a number of years. If anything it was probably confidence, we didn't believe in ourselves enough. Louth football is more than capable of competing in Division Two, if not Division One. It is just about getting the structure in place, the players are there.”
Kierans vast knowledge of the talent within Louth is one of the reasons Reid is optimistic about the 2020 campaign. “Wayne is a native Louth man, he certainly knows every player in the county,” Reid says.
“The best players are playing with Louth at the minute and they were very unfortunate not to get promoted last year. Hopefully we can build on that.”
Significant work has been carried out at underage level with Reid praising the efforts of Games Manager Shane Lennon.
“We have great players there, Shane Lennon is doing super work in the coaching ranks,” Reid adds. “We have a number of really good coaches, that progress has to be made. It is the grassroots where you need to focus on. Hopefully they can keep building on what they are doing.
“We have Darver, it is a great set-up, it has been there for 15 years at this stage. It is about keeping doing it and eventually we will get that talent coming through.”
Mullinavat’s own voyage to the AIB Leinster Intermediate decider is worthy of the utmost praise and respect. Three Kilkenny Senior titles on the spin have been secured by Mullinavat with Reid impressed by the momentum they have generated.
“Absolutely, there is nothing to be complacent about,” Reid says. “They have beaten the Dublin and Laois champions.
“There is no reason to be complacent. In Kilkenny they choose hurling first probably, but they are talented at football, Mullinavat have shown that. They have won the Kilkenny Championship for the third year this year and we are under no illusions about the challenge we face on Saturday.”
Having stepped away from the inter-county arena after a decade of service in 2017, Reid is relishing playing for Mattock Rangers.
“I have probably enjoyed football in the last two years as much as I have enjoyed it in the last 10 years,” Reid comments. “Being back with the club you are back with the people you grew up with and went to school with.
“It is great to be representing them because you miss out on a lot of League games and training when you're playing with the county. I just found it really enjoyable, you have time to deal with injuries you have been carrying for years, to get them sorted. This year I have been feeling really good.”
Training and being involved in matches late into the year is another challenge the Louth outfit are embracing.
“Absolutely, that is one of the best things about going on this run,” Reid acknowledges. “The buzz anytime you go in training, the more games you win the more momentum you get. The spirit is just lifted. It is great to still be training in November or December for the current year, not the following one.”