Peter McGinnity. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
For former Louth captain Peter McGinnity, winning Joe Ward on Sunday would be “the ultimate” achievement.
“It would be the ultimate. I mean you start off your career as a four or five-year old coming through those blue and white gates. You proceed through the ranks and it’s a really enjoyable experience,” McGinnity told the Dundalk Democrat
“Then it’s a big day playing your first senior game for the club and from the moment you make that debut, you’re really looking for a senior medal. That’s the one you’re chasing and hoping to get a chance at winning. Outside of that, the only other medal in my mind that would beat that, if any, would be an All-Ireland. A club senior medal is a huge thing,” the veteran defender added.
The twentieth anniversary of the Gaels’ fifth Louth Minor Football Championship title occurred recently, a success which McGinnity skippered. He also led the Dundalk men to the Louth and Leinster Intermediate Championship title in ’03, before adding his second Intermediate title in 2007.
But, while success hasn’t been altogether absent from his time in Blue, there has been an evident lack of success in the top grade. It’s something that he’s intent on altering this weekend, though, injury almost prevented him from having this chance.
“I’d a history of back issues pretty much all through my career, all the way from I was a 16-year-old to I was 29,” he said.
“At 29, under Eamonn McEneaney with Louth, I had undergone several epidural injections and I went back for more treatment, but I was advised to stop playing altogether so from 29 to 33 I didn’t play any football.
“I went to see a neurosurgeon (2013) who I believed could solve my problem and he did. He did what I asked him to do and a year later I was back playing football free of back pain and I have been since.”
Danny Culligan gave Peter his debut as a 16-year old, a match he remembers well. While, now at the latter end of his career, he acknowledges that he’s gone full cycle despite not feeling any older.
“I remember my first game,” he grinned. “It was up in Collon against Mattock Rangers.”
“We won the Minor Championship the year after that and twenty-years on to get to a senior final, it’s a big deal for me personally. It feels, not like yesterday, but not that long ago since we were facing Cooley in that minor final.
“Cooley were outright favourites because they had beaten us at U14 and U16, and beaten us well, but we pipped them to the post on that day and we’ll be looking to do the same against the Blues.
“I suppose I’ve come full circle since then, but in your mind, as a footballer, you don’t really get much older. You started out playing senior at 16 or 17 and things don’t change that much through the years. Ok, you gain experience but at the end of the day it’s a football match and you there to play football.
“This group of players have been reaching quarter-finals and semi-finals quite consistently, but I had always looked at this group as having a very high skillset and really high potential, but in some of the years just failing to deliver on the final hurdle.
“We have addressed that this year and taken it one step further.
“We know that there is still a big job to be done, but I believe we can take the next step and win the Joe Ward.”