Mary’s man stars at Australasian Games in Melbourne
A LOST passport meant John ‘Bobs’ Daly almost didn’t make it to the Australasian Games in Melbourne last week – but it was worth it in the end.
The Friday before he was to fly from Wellington in New Zealand, where he’s based since June on a one-year working holiday visa, to Melbourne, the St Mary’s GAA Club export realised he had lost his passport.
It had fallen out of his pocket on a bus after he needed ID to pick up a new pair of football boots at a courier depot.
It didn’t turn up over the weekend. No sign of it at the police station, the city council offices or the bus station.
Wellington GAA, the club he’s lining out for, got in touch with the Irish Consulate in Auckland to arrange an emergency passport.
‘I was about to board the plane to Auckland on Monday morning when Denise Flanagan from their offices rang me and said the passport was found and it had been posted to them,’ John explains.
‘The bus driver of the bus where I dropped the passport posted it to them. Anyway, I flew on up to Auckland to collect it.’
Soon, he was in Melbourne with Wellington for the week-long Australasian Games, one of the main competitions of the year for Australian and New Zealand GAA clubs, with hurling, football, camogie and ladies’ football all represented.
‘Each region in Australia and New Zealand sends their top players to compete,’ he explains.
‘It’s akin to club players playing inter-county in Ireland.
‘So in Christchurch, for instance, they picked the best players from the three clubs to represent Christchurch/Canterbury at the games. As we’ve only one club in Wellington, everyone in our men’s football team represented the Wellington & Hutt Valley region.’
John and Co competed in the intermediate men’s football grade along with Regional Victoria (Victoria’s second team), Canterbury and South Australia. They lost their first game against Regional Victoria (2-8 to 1-4), then beat South Australia (2-7 to 0-8) and drew against Canterbury (1-6 to 0-9).
In the semis, Wellington were edged out by Canterbury (0-8 to 0-7) before losing the third-placed play-off/plate final to South Australia – but the St Mary’s man, playing at wing forward, showed enough in those five matches to scoop the top individual award.
At the gala ball last Saturday evening that brought the competition to a close, he won an All-Star award and then picked up the Intermediate Best Player of the Tournament Award.
There was more West Cork success, too. Former Doheny Mark Quinn, playing corner forward for Victoria, won a senior football All-Star award. Alan Sheehan, also Dohenys, was player-manager for Victoria.
There was even a West Cork welcome when he first landed in New Zealand.
‘When I arrived I got in touch with the club’s secretary Kate McCarthy who, it turns out, is from Manch, Dunmanway,’ John explains.
‘Kate is a physiotherapist who worked in Ballineen a few years back. She treated me a few times in 2014 when we won the West Cork junior A football. She now works as a physio here in Wellington. Anyway, Kate was a great help as she organised my transfer from St Mary’s to Wellington & Hutt Valley GAA and she put me in contact with the hurling and football managers here.’
It’s a move that’s worked out well. He’s loving life in Wellington, playing GAA, working with The National Library of New Zealand on a short-term contract, and embracing the Kiwi style of life. They love their sport.
‘I’m only here a few months now and I’m already playing hurling, football, indoor soccer and I also played Capital Football (soccer) 11-a-side games towards the end of the season as well. I’ve also gone skiing a few times here,’ John says.
‘One of the guys on the football team wants me to join one of the AFL teams in Wellington.’
Next up on the GAA front is The Feis, a sevens club tournament in Christchurch later this month, and the New Zealand club championships next March.
And when he needs his passport next, he knows where it is, safely tucked away in a drawer.