Georgie O’Callaghan has long been both fan and friend of FAI Chief Executive, John Delaney and I suspect the feeling is mutual. You’d know when you see them together.
An instance at the River Island Hotel last Friday afternoon proved my point – if only to myself. Georgie had the house full of youngsters in a highly anticipatory mood for the visit of Republic of Ireland manager, Martin O’Neill. John Delaney had arrived on the appointed time; guest of honour, O’Neill lagged behind and got caught up in the notorious Adare traffic jams.
Chicken with an Egg
Georgie was fretting around the lobby of the hotel, John Delaney was smiling at him and teasing him with the ‘Chicken with an Egg’ analogy. The youngsters within earshot sniggered away from the scene as Delaney’s quip cut close to the bone of the nick-name they openly tag poor Georgie with.
However, it was traffic in Adare and Republic of Ireland manager, Martin O’Neill which occupied every jangling nerve in Georgie’s mind as the minutes passed.
He eventually turned to another ally, Sgt. John O’Mahony. Sgt. O’Mahony immediately saw that the situation was serious and school-bus times were looming and time was simply running out.
There was nothing for it only to go and provide a Garda escort from the traffic jammed, tourist trap to the door of the River Island Hotel. This he, and Garda Ronal Coleman, did. It was an hour later but a generation of local youngsters got a lesson in what community policing is all about. In other words: they saved the day for the community they serve.
Georgie’s summing up of his guests: We’ve established that himself and John Delaney are old friends. On Martin O’Neill, Georgie commented: “A Gentleman” and it was the way he said it that made me use those capital letters in this instance.
It isn’t that Georgie’s star struck or anything like that because he’s met them all. On being asked he reeled off a list of FAI dignitaries who have all visited at his request: Ronnie Whelan, Mick Byrne, Liam Touhy, Eoin Hand – he too during his Republic of Ireland tenure and Brian Kerr – before his – and the list goes on.
“We were very ‘taken’ by Martin O’Neill,” said Georgie. ‘Taken’ is a localism which lodges a few notches above ‘impressed’ in our own understated way.
“He stood in and sat down for photographs with any group or family that asked him to and he hung around to sign autographs and talk to people for ages after. He told us that Roy Keane sent his regards to Castleisland. He made up for the time he lost,” said the time stickler Georgie.
And, what about the saviours of the day? “That’s what friends are for – I don’t know what we would have done if John hadn’t acted as quick as he did,” said Georgie. And that’s very high praise indeed – if you knew our Georgie. Even so, he’s a great man. – ©John Reidy – The Maine Valley Post 2014