Meet the Roscommon native powering Nemo's county bid from midfield

Meet the Roscommon native powering Nemo's county bid from midfield

James McDermott, Nemo Rangers, catches the ball ahead of Niall Hartnett, Douglas, in the county semi-final. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

IT really is a small old world. Back in 2011, a soft-spoken Roscommon lad, Niall Daly, won a Sigerson Cup and a county championship with UCC.

He created a bit of a fuss at the time because not many folk from his part of the country accomplish such remarkable feats.

Now, another Roscommon-native is on the brink of joining Daly as the proud holder of a Cork senior football medal.

He is James McDermott (31), who will be at midfield for Nemo Rangers against Duhallow in Sunday's showdown at Páirc Uí Rinn at 4pm.

And as is the way with all good stories, there's more then just an obvious football connection between the pair as the medical doctor outlined.

“Apart from playing centre-field with Niall for Roscommon in 2016, I also worked with his mother in Portiuncula Hospital, where she's a nurse.

“Niall is also going out with a Roscommon Gaels woman, as well, and her father is steeped in the club and managed me all the way up.

“The lads here say Niall made a massive difference at centre-back for UCC,” McDermott said.

He moved to Cork in July of last year along with his wife, Eilis, who is training to be a dermatologist in the South Infirmary.

McDermott divides his work between the UCC student health section and a practice in Patrick St.

“I was still playing with my club Roscommon Gaels, but I contacted Paul (Kerrigan) to see if I could train with the lads.

“I was travelling up and down every weekend, three hours each way, from July to October and couldn't settle at all.

“The minute the football was over we were able to settle much better and to enjoy Cork at the weekends.

“And it was very important as well just to make the connections with the lads here.

“Then we found out we'd be staying another year with work.

“Once that decision was made I decided to transfer to Nemo, who were very good to me, so welcoming and a lovely bunch of lads.

“It wasn't an easy decision, I have to say. I had been playing with the lads for 14 years at home.

“I was happy with my decision to transfer, though, I must admit to having a couple of sleepless nights.

“I ran it by my family, Eilis, the lads in the club at home and with Paul here, but once I made my decision I was happy and comfortable with it.

“And that was still the case when I went back to watch them in some of the games during the summer.

“Of course, I was still texting them, wishing them the best of luck in games and stuff like that.

“But, it was straight up after work on Friday and I felt I couldn't do another year of the travelling.

“So, I transferred in January and I've been training and playing with the lads since. It's been great.” 

Unlike most of his colleagues, McDermott has little to show in terms of a medal collection from his years with the Gaels. Apart from a couple of division 2 leagues, it's a bare sideboard.

“We lost the county senior final in 2017 and the minor in 2005. I also lost a Connacht U21 final with Roscommon and the senior final in 2016, as well.

“The day we played Douglas in our semi-final, the Gaels were playing the county final.

“I came off the pitch and looked at my phone and they were seven points down at that stage, ending up losing by three.

“I went to watch a number of their games and I thought they'd do it this year because they had been going well.

“They conceded a couple of sloppy goals and were beaten by the better team on the day.

“I was very disappointed for them, especially as they had the same management for the last five years.”

McDermott admitted to knowing precious little about Cork-life before arriving, but hit Leeside with an open mind.

“I had no preconceived ideas of what I was coming into. I knew very little. I had been to Cork for a few weekends, but wasn't really friendly with anyone from here.

“Obviously, I knew Nemo would be good footballers. I was looking forward to going training and when I came in I knew straight away it was a good standard.

“I played well for the Gaels and I put that down to the training I was doing here and not doing the travelling during the week.

“I think the lads lifted me to a good level. They were really flying and I couldn't believe when they lost to Castlehaven in the quarter-final last year.

“The standard of club football is very high. It's very good. Obviously it's going great because we've won well in most of our games.

“We've a good side, who prepare well and train hard. I've been impressed with the quality of training.

“The numbers, for starters, are excellent and that, along with the quality, are the main differences between the two.

“In Roscommon, we mightn't have had the numbers, especially with the lads' travelling all the time.” 

Now it's Duhallow, a division, an entity alien to Roscommon football. Another different kind of challenge for McDermott.

"They were impressive in last year's final against the 'Barr's. They can all play football and I think it will be a quick game. I know all about Aidan Walsh obviously at midfield.

"There are no divisional teams in Roscommon. There are 12 teams in senior championship and 10 in senior league. This is a totally new experience for me.

"The top teams in Cork are certainly at a higher level than those in Roscommon though there are some weak teams here, as well.

"I would say there are probably a few too many senior clubs, but I know there are changes in place for next year," McDermott concluded.

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