“I was obsessed with football - it was and still is a major part of my life”.
After suffering a double helping of defeats in the space of a week, Padraic Davis continues to emit an unwavering infatuation with football without any trace of frustration seeping through. It’s inscribed in his make-up and no amount of defeats will inhibit that desire. It’s 24 hours since he watched his Junior squad crumble under the weight of a stronger Cavan side but even in that time, the former county star still obtains the same fervour for football that would rival all the All-Ireland medal recipients.
An unrelenting string of injuries were at the core of his decision to blow the final whistle on his playing career but his hunger for the game ruled out complete retirement. His passion merely transferred into the managerial department in 2007 and he has slotted comfortably into the position. In his first year as the appointed U21 manager, he guided his charges to a Leinster Final but he won’t claim all the credit. “I learnt a lot from watching Ciaran Fox train the minors last year in terms of delegation. You can’t do it all on your own. You’re managing people, that’s important to remember because you’re dealing with 30 different personalities so they need to see different faces to keep things fresh.”
The defeat to Laois prescribes the typical narrative of previous campaigns for the men in blue and gold. It was difficult to watch for the humble spectator but for Padraic, it simply revealed how much he lamented the end of his thirteen year career.
“It wasn’t something I planned and it wasn’t until last Sunday in Laois when I was in the dressing room that I really started to miss playing. There’s nothing to compare with playing and the unfortunate thing is that you don’t realise that until you stop playing” he confessed.
At 35, he still retains an energetic vibrancy that relates to the younger generation, thereby enabling him to command respect, especially at times of indiscipline.
“I understand that at times lads need to be whipped into line, that’s the just the nature of the game. It happened to me throughout my years as a player but bringing them back is what is key” he explained.
He dispels of the phenomenon of a ‘natural talent’. It’s a common term used to explain the breathtaking manoeuvres that only certain players seem capable enough to execute while conveying a sense of effortlessness. The reality, according to Padraic, is that this is concentrated on perfecting the fundamental skills, making the title of ‘natural talent’, nothing more than a sweeping theory. “I worked extremely hard at my game. I wasn’t a natural talent I just worked hard at the skills of the game. The really great players all have one thing in common, they work hard on their own and that’s why they get mistaken for a natural talent”.
The championship is a powder keg of surprises and that is what keeps Padraic’s ambition to secure a Leinster title in Longford, “Several shocks in results down through the years have shown that it can be done and that’s what keeps me going”.