HIGHFIELD have appointed Conor Quaid, a business teacher at CBC, as their new head coach following the end of Timmy Ryan’s game-changing six-year innings.
In a way Quaid has come full circle, having started out as a five-year-old, when his father was under-age chairman.
“I suppose it’s a natural progression in a way. Timmy rang me at the end of last season to see if I’d be interested in going in as an assistant.
“The first thing he said to me when we met was ‘we’re not messing around here. Either you’re in or you’re not.’
“I came in in August, didn’t open my mouth for two months and just watched what was going on. It was a fantastic dynamic to watch.
“Timmy deserves an awful lot of credit for the culture he built in the club and I suppose he was hoping I could add to it and I hope I did.
“He was there for six years and won four promotions which is unbelievable.
“People know we were nine points clear with four games to go before the season was brought to an end and that, of course, was very disappointing.
“We’ve retained nearly all the players and we’re hoping to add a couple more. The thing is that we don’t even know what the season is going to look like.
“The IRFU sent out a questionnaire to clubs about the season starting in September with three options and it was the same for November and even January. It’s all over the shop at the moment and it also means there is no great rush.
“If the season had run its course we’d only be just finishing and the lads would be taking a month to six weeks off.”
Quaid played all the way up along before going to Christians in fourth year, playing in the senior cup for two seasons, 1999 and 2000.
“We won both, the third and fourth of the four-in-a-row at the time. I was the out-half.
“The outstanding memory was coming back from 18-3 down with 10 minutes to go against Rockwell in the final and winning 25-18.
“I remember Denis Leamy was their star player and I still have a mark on my face after putting up a Garryowen, when Denis came through late.
“He’s a very good friend. We were in the senior team at UCC, where I had four great years.
“We had a good side with Denis, Stephen Keogh and Frank Murphy. We were always top end of Division 2 in the All-Ireland League. We also won the All-Ireland U20s, when Conrad O’Sullivan was the captain.
“I went back to Highfield, who were in Division 3, for a season, but I wanted to play in the first division, so I joined Con.
“I had a few very enjoyable seasons there. We won the first All-Ireland Cup in 2006, a few weeks after Conrad passed away. We beat St Mary’s in the final when they had Johnny Sexton at as out-half.
“I wore the number 23 jersey playing 12 in that game because the club rested the shirt in Conrad’s honour.
“I switched back to Highfield and had retired at 28/29 when I got a call from Tommy Crowe, who was coaching Old Christians.
“He asked me to play for a season, but I stayed on for a second year, when I was also captain.”
Quaid turned to coaching in school, heading up the junior cup teams before assisting Neil Lucey in the 2016 senior cup winning season.
“Then Tommy took over in 2019 and I was his assistant, when we also won the cup,” he said.