Thomas McCurtains’ year isn’t over yet as the east Londoners were crowned All-Britain junior football champions for the first time in the club’s history.
Life just keeps getting better and better for McCurtains, whose footballers were playing junior championship just two years ago.
Last Sunday, their seven-point victory over a Glasgow Gaels team contesting its first-ever provincial final saw McCurtains become London’s first winners of the Graham Fleming trophy since Fulham Irish in 2006.
Pop Geraghty’s side now have their first ever All-Ireland quarter-final with Ulster and Monaghan champions Blackhill Emeralds to look forward to on 7/8 December at McGovern Park.
For a club about to enter its centenary year, the c of beginning its 100th year with an All-Ireland semi-final appearance in January, is a tantalising one indeed.
McCurtains have overcome every obstacle put in their path and you’d be brave, or foolish, to predict that Ruislip in three weeks time will be the team’s final destination.
“It’s massive; it’s history for the club. It means a huge amount because we’re on the outskirts….based out in east London,” Geraghty told the Irish World.
Geraghty dedicated the win to the club’s past players, who put their shoulder to the wheel in tougher times, and to those behind the scenes who kept McCurtains going, so that it can now bask in these more successful days.
The likes of Alan Power, Johnny O’Dwyer, Tom Watson, Jim McDermott and Jim Sheridan.
“The victory today was for them – the lads who were in the trenches when the club wasn’t winning – and for the older stock,” said Geraghty.
“For the county final [versus Tir Chonaill Gaels] we have 40 or 50 messages up on the dressing room wall from past players and mentors….people who were in the trenches when things weren’t going so well.
He added: “We were down in junior for a long time and not winning stuff and people maybe weren’t taking us seriously.”
On a tricky surface at Beeston, it was nip-and-tuck until the final quarter when McCurtains were able to open up the first significant lead of this final, 0-9 to 0-6.
Limiting Glasgow to just two second half scores, McCurtains sealed the win in style with Paddy McGuigan scoring the game’s only goal in injury-time.
Blessed with some excellent players going forwards, it was also another outstanding defensive display from the east Londoners.
Geraghty paid tribute to McCurtains’ bench and the team’s strength in depth.
“When we needed to find something extra we looked to the line and the lads who came on won it for us in the end,” said Geraghty, who was a selector under Martin Keyes in 2017 before taking over as manager.
“We’re very fortunate to have that calibre and there’s lads who didn’t get on who are really pushing.
“We’ve used John Winters as an impact player and he’s been superb, Kevin Delahunty came on and was excellent, and Jack Breen, Neil Daly and Johnny McGuigan.”
For a side which began training on 29 January, McCurtains’ All-Ireland quarter-final with
Blackhill Emeralds will be the team’s thirtieth game of 2019.
Emeralds defeated Donegal’s Buncrana 1-11 to 0-9 in last Saturday’s Ulster final at Healy Park.
Geraghty says they’re “looking forward” to the challenge and that the club is “privileged” to still be out training at this time of year.
“We want to do London and Britain proud. We’ve nothing to lose, we’ve trained hard all year – we’re in bonus territory,” he said.
“It’s a great journey we’re on, we’re enjoying it and we’ll see what happens on 7/8 December.”
See this week’s Irish World for full report.