Dundalk Gaels' Gerard McSorley. (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)
Gerard McSorley’s exile from the Ramparts was somewhat short lived. Having departed to play a summer of football in America shortly before the Gaels’ championship campaign begun, home sickness played its part as he returned home only a month after leaving.
It’s turned out to be a fruitful decision for both parties. Instead of following the games Stateside on Twitter, McSorley has been crucial, using his speed and finishing ability, in helping to fire the Gaels to a first Joe Ward decider since 1992.
“It was after the Pats game in the league, we had won and I rang Malachy just after the game and told him I was going over to America,” McSorley said somewhat gingerly. It would have you believing that their conversation was as frosty as the night air during our meeting, though it was anything but according to ‘Gea’.
“Malachy took it well. You couldn’t stop any young fella wanting to go over to play in America because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. But my stay was short-lived,” he chuckled.
“No one was on to me about coming home or anything like that, I decided to come back totally of my own accord. We do things sometimes and they don’t work out, and it didn’t really work out for me.
“I knew the team had their own plan for the championship without myself, but coming home I got straight back into the swing of things. I did a bit of training and then we had the quarter-final against the O’Mahony’s in Dowdallshill.”
By all accounts, Gerard had to fight for his place in the side having missed both the Group Three games against Cooley Kickhams and Naomh Máirtín. However, there was little doubt that the former Dundalk FC juvenile was going to play an integral part.
Dubbed the ‘quarter-final’ specialists, McSorley credits the belief the Gaels have in their style of play as being crucial to their championship improvements.
“We have been known as quarter-final specialists at most, but I think we have proven an awful lot of people wrong this year. We were probably missing that bit extra, and we have it this year.
“Since Malachy (O’Rourke) has come in, we have implemented a plan and we have it down to a tee,” McSorley assured.
“Lenny (Harbinson) – the Gaels’ previous manager - laid the foundations for the way we’re playing now and Malachy came in and implemented a steady and sturdy plan.
“You have to buy into what the manager wants and I think the whole team has bought into Malachy and the way we’re playing. People can say what they want when they’re sitting or standing watching the game because it’s the players who have to do the work.
“People can say what they want about it, but it’s worked for us so far.”
The Blues should pose the most definite ‘quality control’ test of the Gaels’ much-talked about system. Gerard is confident they can produce the goods on the big day this weekend, however, whatever the outcome, he feels vindicated in swapping the bright lights of the US for the street lights of the Ramparts.