Maghnus Breathnach inspiring spirited An Spideal
By Cian O'Connell
Maghnus Breathnach might have wondered, but the An Spideal goalkeeper never stopped believing. In sport another chance usually arrives so Breathnach was hoping to be ready, willing, and able to seize the moment.
A Connacht FBD League Semi-Final in mid January won’t define any team or player, but last Sunday Breathnach had ample reason to smile at Tuam Stadium following Galway’s penalty shootout win over Mayo.
Breathnach made two saves to deny Diarmuid O’Connor and Andy Moran, but the fact he was playing a week ahead of An Spideal’s AIB All Ireland Intermediate Club Semi-Final against Antrim’s Naomh Eanna confirmed how much the Galway shirt mattered.
Last year Breathnach captained the Galway junior team to Connacht success and an All Ireland final appearance before annexing a County Intermediate crown with the Gaeltacht outfit.
That silverware was achieved following two keenly contested battles with neighbours Micheal Breathnach merely added to the delight. Breathnach was a central figure in those games and his dashing raids from goal helped An Spideal back into the top tier of the Galway game.
Subsequent narrow triumphs in the province capped a memorable 2018. “It was fantastic,” Breathnach admits. “You set out your stall at the start of the year to get to the knockout stages of the Club Championship, to take it from there then. We have just been taking each game in our stride.
“Thankfully it has come off for us. We went to extra-time against the Breathnachs, same thing against Belmullet, and Fuerty there was only a point in it. We probably have a never say die attitude this year in the club and that is great. It has carried on nicely for us, hopefully it carries on next weekend for us.”
Significant work has been carried out at underage level during the past decade by An Spideal with Breathnach highlighting the increased representation on Galway teams in that spell.
“We've had a lot of lads that have been on underage teams for Galway,” Breathnach states. “The O'Laoi's, Liam Kelly, Padraic O'Curraoin, Micheal O'Curraoin.
“It is a big help. You are playing at a higher standard, they come back to the club and everyone is eager to drive it on. You are just mad to win games then.
“You have a lot of lads there with good experience in big games. It probably just took a few years to develop that at adult level at club level. It is never easy to go from underage to adult level, it just took us a few years. We are learning the whole time and that is the main thing.”
Breathnach’s exploits with An Spideal ensured an invitation to train with Galway, who face Roscommon in the FBD decider also next Sunday, was extended and the goalkeeper was happy to accept.
“It is an open panel this year with Galway,” Breathnach responds. “The best thing about that is it creates competition. It is good for Galway to be in a final next weekend. There aren't too many finals in the calendar year, this is one we are competing in again. Ideally we would like to win it, but Roscommon probably will have another say in that.
“Definitely it was something I was willing to do. Between Kevin and our management team in An Spideal they have been very good to us. They aren't working us hard both sides so there is an understanding between the two which is great for us. It lets us just go get on with the training and playing the games.”
Throughout his playing days from the 2011 All Ireland Under 21 Final victory over Cavan to the Galway Intermediate decider Breathnach has made smart penalty saves. That was evident once more when the green and red visited Tuam. “I wouldn't think about them too much, but I have to admit that when the lads are taking penalties at training I'm mad to go in,” Breathnach laughs. “It went right on the day for us.”
Fortune often favours the brave.