Caulry hoping to make more history
By John Harrington
Caulry will ink a new chapter in the club’s history on Sunday when they contest a Westmeath SFC semi-final for the very first time.
They’ll be underdogs against Coralstown-Kinnegad, but you wouldn’t write them such has been the progress they’ve made as both a team and club in recent years.
Westmeath Junior Champions in 2009 and Intermediate champions in 2019, they’re tracking a steadily impressive upward curve and are a young team that should only improve in the coming years.
Off the pitch, the club, which is located between Moate and Ahtlone, are also upwardly mobile. They opened a second pitch and a walking track in 2019 and this year raised funds to begin construction of a new dressing-rooms and gym complex.
They relaunched their club nursery, now rebranded as ‘The Red Tigers’, in 2020, and put a big emphasis on underage development.
Club coaching officer, Shane Carroll, has played a big part in that, and was also a selector with the senior team in 2021 and 2022.
He’s hugely enthused by the rising tide that has lifted Caulry GAA club to new height in recent years.
“We've a very strong community and there's a lot of good people involved with the club," he told GAA.ie. "We were always up and down between junior and intermediate for years, but since we won the Intermediate in 2019 we seem to be going from strength to strength.
“There's a good group of players there at the moment at senior level and last year we reached the County U-19A final and were beaten by a point by Kinnegad. A lot of those lads have already graduated onto the senior panel.
“Our club nursery is going really well and we’ve put a big emphasis on building stronger links with our two primary schools. The ladies football side of the club has really taken off in the last 10 years as well.
“The Mount Temple community is football to the core. There’s a great buzz around the club at the moment.”
There’s no shortage of energy on the sideline either, as Caulry are managed by former Roscommon footballer, Shane Curran.
Now in his third season in charge, he’s moulded their young team into one capable of putting it up to every other club in the county.
“Shane has definitely had a massive impact in terms of bringing stability to the club and instilling a senior mentality into the club,” says Carroll.
“His message has always been consistent to the lads in terms of the importance of them believing in themselves and taking ownership of the thing.
“A lot of it comes down to mindset. If players believe they can do something then they've much better chance of doing it, and that's what Shane has developed with this group.
“The fact that he's been there for three years in a row with a consistent message has brought a lot of stability they've been able to build on. Owen Mooney is in there too as team coach with Shane, and he's been excellent as well.”
Westmeath captain, Kevin Maguire, is an inspirational figure for the team, and he’s one of the few older lemons in a panel that’s heavily stocked with rising stars.
Two of them are Senan and Tadgh Baker, sons of Clare hurling legend Ollie Baker, who himself is a big figure in the club.
“Yeah, Ollie is very heavily involved,” says Carroll. “He was on the management team of last year's U-19 team and he helps us out with other underage teams, he's really bought into it.
“Senan and Tadhg are both very talented, and Tadhg is still only in sixth year in secondary school.
“There’s a lot of talented young players coming through in the club, we’re very fortunate that way really.”
Caulry and Coralstown-Kinnegad have met already this year in the first round of the championship. On that occasion Coralstown-Kinnegad triumphed by 4-6 to 0-10, so Caulry are well aware of the challenge they face on Sunday.
Carroll is optimistic though that if they can learn from the lessons of that day they’re in with a great chance.
“Kinnegad are going to be a serious outfit on Sunday,” he says. “They're a very formidable and seasond team and won the Division 1 League this year but we'll be well up for it.
“Caulry won't fear them, they'll be well primed for this. Shane and Owen and Padraig Moran will have them well up for this match.
“But there would also be an understanding that all over our players will need to be on their game if we're to win it. We have to be switched on for the whole game and can't have any lapses in concentration like we did when Kinnegad beat us by eight points in the first round.
“Kinnegad are probably a couple of years ahead of us in their development, but Caulry won't fear them. If this Caulry team plays to their full potential, they can give any team a good rattle.”