NAOMH Conaill club chairman Martin Shankey Smith’s excitable manner up and down the sideline of GAA pitches across Donegal has been likened to Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
The Meath native has thrown himself head-long into coaching and the administrative side of things at the Glenties based club ever since moving to Donegal 16 years ago.
“It’s no coincidence that Naomh Conaill started to win trophies not too long after I moved to Donegal. It’s the Meath influence,” he laughed.
A former member of Kilmainhamwood GFC, Shankey Smith played MacRory Cup during his time as a student in St Pat’s, Cavan.
“Football is my life. I’ll be on the sidelines throughout both games on Sunday. I’m a selector with Seamus O’Malley for the Reserve game while I’ll be there as chairman during the senior match. I’m a bit like Jurgen Klopp. I tend to get emotional on the sideline. I like to kick every ball,” he said.
Vice-chairman of Naomh Conaill for the past five years, Martin Shankey Smith took on the chairman’s role earlier this year when he succeeded David Kelch. He’s also Minor Board chairman.
“I first got involved with coaching when I helped out Paddy McGill who was managing the Naomh Conaill U14 team. ‘Brick’ (Dermot Molloy), Seamus Corcoran and Cathal Ellis were just three of the players from that team. More recently I’ve been involved with teams since the young buck (Joseph) started playing,” he said.
The Parish of Inishkeel, which incorporates Glenties and Fintown, is a sea of blue and white this week and preparations for their invasion of Ballybofey on Sunday are well advanced.
“It’s fantastic to have both teams in the final and for two years in a row too. We’re very proud of them all. It’s great to have such a dedicated, talented bunch of young players. There’s great excitement in the parish. The schoolchildren have made a great effort with bunting and flags. It helps to make the winter that big shorter,” he said.
“It’s a fantastic achievement and it’s very important that we all enjoy these occasions. The club is going through a great period in it’s history and the players and supporters should enjoy every single minute and, hopefully, we’ll have a good night on Sunday. And Monday. And maybe Tuesday too because you never know how long you might have to wait for it to come around again,” he added.
“As a club we would like to thanks our supporters and sponsors over the past year. Without their help we wouldn’t be here. It’s been a great community effort,” he said.
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