IN the autumn of 2007, I had successfully passed my final-year college repeats but didn’t have much of a clue as to what lay ahead.
Having had my appendix removed that summer, I was unable for any kind of strenuous work and I was operating the lift at the building site that would become the Elysian. It was a job that had its ups and downs.
My law degree was only going to be good for making paper aeroplanes and I didn’t have too many other ideas. My mother had often said that she thought I might become a journalist but it wasn’t something I had ever given any credence – while I devoured newspapers and magazines, such a career seemed out of my reach, for some reason.
But then, it was a case of nothing ventured, nothing gained and so, on something of a whim, I emailed John McHale, the sports editor of this paper, on Friday, September 21.
“Dear Mr McHale, how would I go about applying for a job as a stringer writing match reports for the Echo?
“I have just completed a degree in Law & European Studies at the University of Limerick but I realised far too late that I have no affinity with law and now would like to pursue a career in journalism.
“I have been a regular contributor to the Cork City FC matchday programme since 2005, as well as other eircom League clubs' programmes, and have had letters published in all three national daily broadsheets since as far back as 2002. While in college I also wrote for the UL student newspaper,, both in a personal and PRO capacity.
“I have attached my CV and some of my articles for the Cork City programme, if you would like to see more, please let me know.”
Thankfully, he did, and eight days later I reported on my first game, a Munster Senior League Premier Division clash between Carrigaline United and Everton. I know without checking that Carrigaline won thanks to a late goal from Tony Houlihan and the headline over my report the following week was “Houlihan’s magic moment”.
Being paid to write about sport was like a dream for me, my interest in reading and writing nurtured by my mother Gretta in tandem with being taken to all manner of matches by my father Jim.
Since then, I have been lucky enough to make a living from freelancing – though, while you are your own boss in one sense, in another, you have a lot of bosses that you have to keep happy. The proliferation of lockdowns over the past years has been challenging, given the long spells without games. Not since 2007, when I spent the first nine months of the year not working as a journalist, have I had a later ‘first game of the year’.
Good fortune has followed me around over the last 13 years on the sporting beat, however, and in late January an advertisement appeared for the role of a full-time sports reporter with.
I was lucky enough to be the one chosen and I am delighted to be given the opportunity to carry on the great work done by John Horgan in his long tenure with the paper – and fans of his will be glad to know that he isn’t disappearing completely, either. He'll still have weekly columns in print and online.
In the modern era, where social media and clickbait can make us lose sight of journalistic integrity, it’s important to remember why we buy local newspapers – we want to read about what’s happening around us. In his acclaimed Netflix series, Ricky Gervais’ character Tony Johnson says that, “Everyone should be in the local paper once,” and ideally that should be for great feats, but rest assured that we won’t be shy when it comes to holding people to account, either.
sports department has always been more than welcoming to me and, as it was my first gig, it’s something I always held dear. I am beyond proud to now officially be part of the team.