MAYFIELD UNITED Football Club will celebrate 50 years in football this year.
It’s a huge milestone for any organisation to reach. During this time the club has produced some great players, but more importantly, it has developed great young men.
Recently I caught up with the club’s first team captain Christopher McCarthy or 'Kaka' as he is affectionately known, and here he tells us about his journey in football and how proud he is to captain his local team.
“I started playing with Mayfield when I was five or six under Dave Quinn and Ted Nolan and although we began in Division 2, each year we finished runners-up but still got promotion all the way to the Premier Division,” said McCarthy.
“Another great Mayfield man John Joe O’Sullivan was my next manager and although for years we always seemed to finish just short of glory, he proved to be the missing piece of our puzzle as we went on to win our first bit of silverware and that was the only real success I had with my own age group with Mayfield.
I always played a year above my age and there I gained a lot of experience winning many leagues and cup titles.”
The talented player showed massive ability from an early age and was part of many representative squads growing up such as Cork, Munster and Ireland.
Such was his quality, he was quickly scooped up by Cobh for a place on their League of Ireland team and this was the beginning of a great period for McCarthy.
“I had a great time playing League of Ireland. Martin Cambridge and Fingerz Fogarty brought me down to the Cobh U19 side and we won the Enda McGill Cup. Martin then got the first-team job and brought me up playing senior. Hendo took charge later on and we had a great couple of seasons getting to play-offs and having a few good cups runs.
“I played alongside some great players and I was learning loads every week in training. I had a great season that year and won a few individual awards and made the First Division Team of the Year which was a great achievement.
“In the second season with Hendo he gave me the responsibility of being captain which was a surprise at such a young age but I took it with open arms.
“We went on to finish second that year which was unfortunate as only one team was promoted that year.
“People often ask why I’m not still playing at that level and who knows, I’m still young so anything could happen in football, I enjoyed my time playing League of Ireland so I’d never completely shut the door on that but at the moment I am enjoying playing where I am, with the hope of resuming soon.”
Playing in the Munster Senior League First Division, the 24-year-old from Mayfield hopes he can get his club back playing premier football.
“We didn’t have the best of starts pre-Covid but no doubt we would have kicked on, it’s a tough league with some good sides but our goal is to get promoted and go back playing premier football.
“We have a very young squad with me being one of the oldest. We have lots of ex-LOI players so plenty of quality throughout the squad but it will take a bit of time.
“It’s always a great feeling to be giving the responsibility to captain a team especially your local team you grew up playing with all your life.
“But there are plenty of captains in our side they show it on the pitch every week.”
The creative player is likely to play as a centre midfielder or as a centre-half and throughout his sporting career, his grandad Eugene has been a massive influence and for McCarthy been involved in sport from a very early age has been so important.
I think a lot of people don’t realise the effect sport has on people’s lives. It has nothing but a positive effect on kids' lives and certainly mine.
“Not only is it a great source of exercise, but it keeps kids fit and healthy, It keeps a lot of kids away from trouble, keeps people’s minds occupied, and it allows parents watch their kids develop and enjoy themselves while making new friends.
“Mayfield and most of the northside is classed as a disadvantaged area for all different reasons but one thing it has it has produced some of the best sports stars out there in the past and to date."
Roy Keane, of course, hailed from Mayfield.
“Plenty other great footballers, boxers and other sportspeople who have greats honours won throughout the years. I am thankful for being part of such a great club.
“Mayfield is a brilliant club with great people involved who have teams ranging from the academy all the way up to senior.
“The club was established in 1971 which marks a big occasion this year. The facilities are second to none.
“League of Ireland clubs always use them which is a credit to all the hard work done by the committee members and volunteers throughout the years.
“It’s always a pleasure to captain the team you play for it’s just a bit of recognition that I must be doing something right on and off the pitch.
“I cannot wait to get back playing as it has been a difficult 12 months without playing ball and meeting up with teammates.
“Although I’ve played LOI, I think it’s disrespectful to think that level is more important than MSL or any other level, and it’s ridiculous that they can train and play and we can’t.”