Gaughan looking forward to provincial decider
By Cian O’Connell
When asked about a remarkable stint in Tourlestrane’s history Gary Gaughan doesn’t hesitate.
Standards have been implemented, seven Sligo SFC titles in a row accumulated. Gaughan, though, traces this particular journey back to the work commenced by Eamonn O’Hara and Gerry McGowan.
Subsequently Kevin Johnson and Fergal O’Donnell have arrived into the club, building on an already solid foundation.
“We’re really lucky with the group of players we have this last couple of years,” Gaughan says. “With Eamonn and Gerry starting off seven years ago, they brought a new standard into the club. Young bucks coming through now are all in line with that.
“Same when Kevin came through, standards went up again, and the same with Fergal.
“These guys have done it before so it’s up to the players to bring that standard to training and if it’s not good enough the managers will let you know.”
Tourlestrane continue to dominate in Sligo, but reaching a first AIB Connacht Club SFC Final since 1982 against Maigh Cuilinn at Pearse Stadium on Sunday is a significant achievement.
“In fairness to the chairman he has really pushed it on,” Gaughan says about bringing in high quality people to assist Tourlestrane.
“We’re not going to last forever, we’re going to come to a stage where we can’t go on anymore, but when we have the players there we have to have the best coaches we can get. It’s testament to Fergal and Kevin before that that they really brought standards up in our club.”
Former Roscommon boss O’Donnell has connected well with Tourlestrane. “He’s coming from a different county, as well as that he has managed county teams,” Gaughan responds.
“Kevin had a lot of experience coaching teams in Galway and Mayo, but Fergal has county experience and he’s tried to bring county standards to us at club level. It has really worked this year.
“Once we got on his wavelength we really pushed on.”
The enjoyment derived from being part of a successful club outfit matters deeply to Gaughan. “Winning brings that, when you come from a rural club like us there’s nothing else to do bar going to a football field and kicking a few balls over the bar during the week and then meet up with your buddies, whether it’s on the pitch or in the local, it’s great.”
Retaining players has been critical according to Gaughan because the turnover hasn’t been high. “That’s probably one thing that hasn’t happened,” Gaughan says.
“A winning team is easier to come back to, we’ve only had two or three retirees. The bulk of the players are still there.
“When we started off in 2016 on the start of this there were about 30 lads there and every year we get three or four minors coming through.
“We have one or two retirees or pull away every year, but nothing major. It’s great to have the core of the team always there.
“We wouldn’t be known for having a really strong underage but we get the two or three through each year who really push us on.
“They get their league game, a few guys starting championship games as well. If they’re good enough they’ll be thrown into the team, it doesn’t matter about age.”
Representing Sligo in a provincial decider provides encouragement too. “Sligo football gets a lot of flak from different people saying it’s not a great standard, but the standard is high, there’s no doubt about it,” Gaughan says.
“That’s what pushes us on to be better player and hopefully we’ll see that on Sunday against Moycullen.”