MISSING his first Merseyside derby in 35 years is a devastating blow to Everton fanatic Derek Geaney.
Geaney, from Palmbury Orchid in Togher, is the son of the Cork soccer guru and St Mary’s legend Gerry Geaney.
A season ticket holder at Goodison Park, his house is also named after the ground, Geaney and his buddies Declan Burke, Frank Healy, and Liam O’Connell travel to the UK five or six times a season and missing out on this weekend's derby is very disappointing.
For the past few months, we have caught up with a lot of players to see what life has been like for them without sport.
Sometimes we forget about the supporters. The men and women who live for the enjoyment of watching soccer games.
Geaney is certainly one of those men who has occupied most of his life since hanging up his playing boots, watching games from schoolboys level to senior, and life for him since the Covid-19 disruptions has been very difficult.
“Not been able to go to games during this pandemic has been absolutely desperate, very hard,” said Geaney.
“I suppose it is a period where I get to realise that there’s more to life than sport.
“However, I have missed sport so much. I would spend five or six evenings a week watching games locally so not been able to do that has been very difficult.
“I have tried to occupy my time walking around the Lough, but the sooner sport is back, the better.”
The sports-mad father of one who works at CIT gives us an insight into his life of football from his early days as a player with St Mary’s, his time coaching at Maymount, to his life as a supporter.
“I started out my playing days with St Mary’s at the age of seven. I played all through the age groups and was with the club until I was 30.
“We had numerous victories throughout the years and made memories that will last a lifetime.
“I played as a left-full, but when they needed to keep some fella quiet in the middle of the park, I was soon thrown in there. I loved my time playing with the club that my dad played such a huge role with.
“Through my time with the club I played alongside and against some excellent players. The three best and toughest players that I played with were my brother Declan, Finbarr Murphy and John Healy.
“Hardest players I played against were Dennis Bennett, Denis Keane, and the late Jamesie Corcoran.”
Having finished playing, Geaney got involved with Maymount coaching staff and here he got to experience a different side to the game.
“It was a huge honour for me when I was asked by Raymond ‘Chalky’ Murphy to get involved with his Maymount side.
“This was a side that went on to win 10 leagues in a row from U8 to youths level, winning the Munster Youths Cup.
“This team had players like Billy Clarke, Alan Kearney, Alan King, Anthony Fenton, Jamie Meehan, Lloyd Crowley, Howie Coakley, Daniel Duggan, Darren O’Regan, Micky Bullman, Ian Cullinane, Johnny Barrett and John O’Sullivan.
“Chalky I believe is one of the best coaches in the game.
“He was great in the dressing room, and it was great to hear from him that my dad played a key role in how he coached.
“Having finished playing, working alongside Chalky and his backroom staff was a great experience.”
Currently with no affiliation to any particular club, Geaney can be spotted any given night at any pitch across the city, from a soccer pitch to his local GAA club, the Barrs.
With no sport for the past number of months, how has it been for the soon to be grandfather?
“It’s been ferocious without sport as it occupied so much of my life. Credit to my wife Gillian, my rock and a Liverpool fanatic, (we won’t hold that against her), she has never had an issue with me going to games six nights a week.
“Without it during these surreal times, I’ve been spending most of my time walking around the Lough.
“I’m so delighted that we’re nearer to the return of sport. Aaron Duggan and Micky Mahony are friends of mine who travel to as many games as we can, however our favourite part of the season is watching local cup finals at the Cross.
“Three of us sit in the Gerry Geaney stand watching all cup finals from schoolboys to senior.
“A few of my dad’s buddies christened the John Delaney Stand after my dad when he passed so that’s where we can always be found.
“It’s great that the Premier League is starting, but I don’t know what to expect watching a game in an empty stadium.
“In saying that I’m really looking forward to next week’s Merseyside derby.”
Getting to meet David Moyes in his final game with Everton before he departed for Manchester United, was a memorable occasion for Geaney.
“I got to meet David Moyes on his last game as manager with Everton before he left for Manchester United and it was a great occasion. I even got to appear on Sky Sports doing an interview.
“Moyes’ assistant, Jimmy Lumsdale, played with Cork Hibs back in the day and there was a great affiliation with Cork Celtic and Cork Hib players.
“When you hear Moyes’ personally speaking about Brian Barry-Murphy about his time with him at Preston, it felt great.
“I’m looking forward to a time when we will get back to some sort of normality and where I can go back to enjoy watching our beloved game.”