Irene Mawe chats to KIERAN McCARTHY about her playing days after she calls time on her 25 years of lining out for Dohenys
BY KIERAN McCARTHY
IRENE Mawe didn’t want a long goodbye.
Gathered with team-mates in The Parkway in Dunmanway after earlier that day helping Dohenys win the West Cork ladies’ junior B football final against Courcey Rovers last month, Irene told the group, ‘That’s me done, that was my last game.’
After playing with Dohenys ladies for the past 25 years, she feels it’s the right time to bow out. She’s 38 years old, married with four kids, and has given a quarter of a century of service to her local club – but it was still hard to exit stage left.
‘I was a bit emotional alright on the day of the West Cork final. It was my last time packing my bag before a game, my last warm-up, last team-talk, last match and I’ll miss it,’ she admitted, before adding, ‘But I know I’ve made the right decision.
‘I was half thinking of retiring last year but we got to the county final and I thought I’d give it one more year and see how we get on.
‘Towards the end of this season, I was getting more tired in games, I’m not as fast as I used to be, and it was all starting to catch up on me. ‘I think people only half believed me when I told them the news – but they realised after a while that I was serious.’
Irene’s involvement with the Dohenys ladies goes right back to the very start when her mother Margaret and Phil Collins – mother of Irene’s best friend and Dohenys captain Ruth Collins – were involved in setting up the club in Dunmanway.
It was even more of a family affair as Irena’s late father, Diarmuid (one of the region’s best-ever goalkeepers) coached teams in those early days and at one point Irene and her four older sisters – Veronica, Sharon, Mairead and Caroline – all played on the same team.
(We can’t forget her younger brother David who at 36 is still playing senior with the Dohenys; longevity runs in the family, it seems.)
Great memories, and there have been plenty of highs and lows over the past 25 years.
‘There have been some great moments,’ smiled Irene, who is from Dunmanway town.
‘In 2014 I came back after having my son (Adam) – he was born in January and I was back in April – I was captain that year and we won the county league title, against Glanmire, and we won the West Cork final that year too against Bantry in Church Cross. That was a big highlight for me.’
There have been lows, too. These past two years Dohenys have lost the county junior B championship final, Glanmire getting the better of them in last month’s decider (2-9 to 1-8), but Irene is convinced that they’ll scale that summit in the not too distant future.
‘There is definitely a county final in them. I’m convinced. Next year could be their year,’ she said.
‘There are some good players coming through from the minors and when you add them to the team that’s there, with Melissa Duggan, Ruth Collins and Catriona Moloney, that’s a team capable of winning a county title.
‘Tony White the manager has been terrific as well.
‘It was disappointing losing the county final to Glanmire but to bounce back and win the West Cork final was fantastic.
‘I thought it was the perfect time to bow out.’
Over the years, Irene has held several roles with the club. She was vice-chairperson, trained the U16 team for a spell and as well as playing, she was also a referee. In fact, while she was in CMUH in 2011 about to give birth to her second child, Lauren, Irene received a phone-call asking her to referee a game in West Cork.
She answered the call.
‘Sorry, I can’t ref that game. I’m in hospital having a baby!’
Irene and her husband Brian, from Ballincollig, have four kids – Emma (14), Lauren (6), Sophie (4) and Adam (3) – and juggling family life, her job at Norton House in Skibbereen and playing with the Dohenys has been a challenge in itself. With that in mind, she doesn’t think she’ll get itchy feet to lace up her boots in 2018.
‘I don’t think so,’ when asked if she’ll come out of retirement.
‘There is a lot of commitment involved. I have four kids at home, too. Every time I had a child I came back playing the same year. I went straight back into training. But there comes a time when something has to give because it’s hard work trying to balance everything.
‘I’ll go and support the girls and help out as much as I can – but I won’t be playing.’
She’s enjoyed a football career that saw her play for Cork at U14, U16, minor and senior level, spent a summer playing with Fog City Harps in San Francisco and won silverware with her beloved Dohenys.
‘Twenty-five years is a long time to be playing so it’s time I made way for the young players. I find it hard to keep up with them anyway!’ Irene laughed, content with her decision to draw the curtain of her playing days. She’ll be missed.