McGrenor is ready for a new football adventure at Westport

Westport’s advantage certainly outweighs Avondale’s and Wicklow’s loss, now that the news is public knowledge that Avondale’s Conor McGrener has transferred to the Mayo organization.

There was really no whisper about it until he posted his decision to drop Avondale and Wicklow and set up a home in Mayo on his Instagram after Avondale’s championship exit from St. The official transfer did not take place last weekend and was picked up by a newspaper in May.

McGrenor, who carries an NFL Division 4 and Sigerson Cup medal in his back pocket, prefers to quietly slip away and accept the new football challenge that awaits him at St. Patrick’s Park.

“I didn’t make any big announcements or anything like that, I kept it within my close circle. And I was like, “Gorgeous, come down here to Westport and slip down here to play a little bit of football.” Especially when I wasn’t even selected for Avondale for some games last year. So, I definitely didn’t want to come here with any sort of position or anything like that. I just wanted to grind and play a little bit,” he said on Tuesday morning.

The Rhythdrum has been a major part of the organization’s makeup since McGrener came on the scene in 2008 under the leadership of Owen Doyle. It seems like a lifetime ago and yet he is still only 29 years old. He has a lot to offer and hopes that the new adventure will land him and allow him to achieve his vital potential.

Connor has made this move with his lovely fiancee Lisa, who hails from Westport.

“I got engaged to Lisa, a lovely Westport girl. We went to New York together and then came back. The plan was that we were both always working in Dublin, things were fine, work in Dublin, maybe Dublin And then maybe live in Wicklow. But there was always a part of Lisa, and I, was interested in Westport. It’s a great city. Gorgeous place to live.

“We were lucky that Lisa’s father had a site here behind the family home. And when the pandemic came, we ended up working remotely, so my job is totally off at the moment, and Lisa is in Dublin one or two days a week and there’s a train that leaves at 7 a.m. And you’re back at 9.30pm, so it’s not a bad trip to say you live in the west of Ireland.

“We’re actually building at the moment. Actually, now that I’m talking to you, there’s a lorry turning over that’s going to pelt stones on the ground work. We hope to put the subfloor up tomorrow.

“We went down for a week on paddy weekend in 2020 when Covid hit. We came for a weekend. I brought a pair of tracksuit bottoms and ended up living for like 18 months. Last summer I was down here most of the time commuting between Wicklow and Westport and I was training with Westport. I probably did about 20 training sessions with Westport Seniors last year. So, it’s not like I’m new to the group. I was training with him and the Avondale boys.

“It was definitely a huge help. Just to see what they were doing and what the set-up was. That was interesting. It probably affected my performance or commitment with Avondale last year, which was disappointing But at the same time there was a part of me that was considering playing with Westport last year because that’s where I was. But there was also Avondale on the verge of a championship. It was the first time the four younger brothers were all involved. To be able to say that you shared the field with all your brothers. I could see the potential with a group of boys, I thought it was the last chance. So I gave it another year. But I was last summer I was also living here, which made it very difficult,” he said.

Connor has moved to a club that has great potential. He won the All-Ireland Intermediate Club Championship in 2016, but never won the Mayo Senior crown. Connor says they have a really impressive youth team that also boasts Lee Keegan’s name in their ranks. The Avondale man says he’s really looking forward to getting involved.

“One hundred percent. Really, really excited to be playing with Westport. Buzzing to get down and play with a different club. Do you know what it is, you come back with a fresh slate. Yes, You’ve spent your past time with Wicklow and Avondale, but here’s to coming down as one and resetting yourself a bit and enjoying playing football.

“The hardest part is always leaving Avondale. My family is embedded in the GAA, and Avondale is such a great club with so many good young boys. But what I see is that Westport has a lot in common. They’re very young, young They have teams. They have Fionn McDonagh, Eoin McLaughlin, Do Moran, people like that, and then you guys like Kevin Keane and Lee Keegan have good experience and county players to come. It’s a very strong team. I’m just the team If I can make a 21-member or 24-member panel, that’s the goal here because of the quality and standard. It will be enjoyable to play at a very high level and hopefully have some impact.

“I see a lot of similarity between young people in Westport and young people who come to Avondale. People who are crazy about GAA. We have Ross Ward, Conor Byrne, Zach Cullen in Avondale. Something similar in Westport. But here The big advantage is that they have a great school team at Rice College. Rice College develops those GAA players. They play in the Hogan Cup.

“And then the managers (of Westport) this year are Martin Connolly and Shane Conway who are both teachers at the school, so they’ve managed all these people the whole time. They’re deeply rooted in Westport. The biggest advantage they have is That 99.9 percent of the boys play only football.They have no outside hobbies.

“You know when we (Avondale) play the championship we have Sean O’Hoinean and Ryan Cahill who are big soccer men and they can play for Avonmore, or we have other boys playing rugby, we have Eugene Dunne and Eamon are Kearns who play or play county hurling. In Westport, you only have Gaelic football. If you play Gaelic football you only play Gaelic. If you play soccer, you play football. Theirs Have a handicap team but don’t have double players. You don’t have to worry about losing a good player to a football team in Dublin or rugby,” he said.

Considering that Connor has only turned 29, it seems strange to ask him to reflect on his time with Avondale and Wicklow, now that he is committed to a future at Westport. But we do it anyway.

“I started with Avondale in 2008 with Owen Doyle. I was 16. We were playing the Intermediate Championship at the time.

“I remember playing Laragh, Coolboy, Valleymount in Shilleigh and watching our growth as a club – and I think it goes down to the coaches at the club.

“I was fortunate to be part of the team that won the Intermediate in 2012 betting Ballinacore. My dad was involved, which was a big deal for us, and we had a good crop of young boys and we wanted to do that. But I kind of trust and I think there’s been a huge amount of growth when I look back over the last 13 years.

“I think we haven’t achieved what we should have achieved. I should have left Avondale with the championship. The players are definitely there. The potential is there. We missed the ball on a few things and made the same mistakes.” Repeating itself over the years.

“There’s such potential. The likes of Conor Byrne, Zack Cullen, Oisin, class football player, Shane Beaver, Bakers. Brian Burke in goal.

“I think it was a missed opportunity when I consider Avondale but I look back on my time with the best memories. I’m young now, I’m only 29 years old but I’ve seen a lot of boys.” Have played with dad. I played with James Busher and now coming to Keelin. Brendan Ward. My own dad. It’s nice to feel like I’m 50 and still in my twenties.” They said.

A championship debut throughout his time with Wicklow is a staggering statistic to know about Conor McGrener. He jokes that he has more championship starts with New York than with Wicklow. Considering that he started a bundle of league games for Garden County and did not contribute frequently to championship games when he was thrown off the bench, it is still strange to think that a man of his talent only started one championship game. Will happen. Scoring 7-55 in the county jersey and getting the majority of it off the bench is another eye-opening statistic.

In terms of Wicklow, I see 2011, 12, 13 and 14 as my time playing for Wicklow. Miko, then Harry and then a year Johnny started with Magee. I probably played most of my football then. I was starting out under Harry in a full-forward line with Sean (Furlong) and Leighton (Glynn) for a year. We won a national league. That was probably the most successful time.

“I look at other years and maybe I’m disappointed with myself. I took a year off to finish a tough college degree. Then I went to New York, spent a year there, and back in 2019 under John Evans Came in. Maybe an overall disappointing campaign. I didn’t commit to Davy Burke because I was living in Dublin knowing I was coming down here.

“I’d probably look back at my time with Wicklow and say that I probably didn’t live up to my own expectations and maybe other expectations that would have ended on me if I broke into a team in 2011.

“Now I see young players like Eoin D’Arcy, Matthew Geing, my own brother Oisin, Kevin Quinn, you just hope they’re able to have a similar career with a county team like Mark Jackson or Dean Healy . Passing . Hope you all these young players can keep going.

“I think being in Division 3 will help. I was always against Tier 2 when they wanted to separate us into ‘A’ and ‘B’, but now with the new system you have a chance to play in ‘A’ And if you don’t make it, you will go to the Telten Cup and I think the split season will definitely help those boys stay involved.

“I look back at Wicklow and I would say that I didn’t accomplish my personal goals that I would have loved, and I would have loved to be a mainstay in the county. I think we definitely missed opportunities. Like, that day Against Meath under Johnny Magee. We should have defeated Meath. We would have been in the semi-finals with Westmeath. They went to the Leinster Beach finals at Croke Park. He could have been the catalyst. That was the only year Tommy Kelly played with County Played, Paul Cronin was back. There were a lot of opportunities.

“I look at the whole county and we never seem to be able to bowl out a best 15. That seems to have changed last year with Davy and this year with Kelly now so hopefully the lad can really drive it are,” he said.

Winning the Sigerson Cup is a great achievement for any footballer and Conor McGrener did the same in 2015.

“Sigerson was an amazing time. If you look at the team sheet, it was amazing to be on that team as well. You had Diarmuid O’Connor on one side, Colm Begley, Conor Moyna, the two smiths of Roscommon, Conor Daly who over the weekend Starred for Pearse, there were every corner, Conor Boyle. It was a star-studded team. A good friend of mine, Tom Lahiff, was number 34 on that panel and he starred for Dublin last weekend.

“I always look at it as an amazing time to play with such a team. It brought out the best in me,” he said.

Our time is up. One quick question before leaving. Connor’s best memory of playing football at Wicklow.

“I have two memories, both captured in photographs. Winning is what you play football for, and when we won the intermediate championship, that picture of my dad hugging me, and then Sigerson winning, that picture of me punching me in the air. They are feelings of genuine euphoria.

“I was part of the Wicklow team that won Division 4, but I wasn’t on the field or felt I had an influence on that game. So, those are my two best memories,” he said.

Conor McGrener is starting his new life with the Westport GAA club in May this year. He lit up the football fields at Wicklow for years and was always a pure gentleman.

I wish him nothing but the best in the years to come.