from Saffron Gael
Joe Maskey Interview
By Brendan McTaggart
“I’m not an overly skilful footballer but I do work hard.” Joe Maskey. A quiet, unassuming giant of the game. There’s a lot to like about the big midfielder and on Saturday night the Naomh Éanna man’s stock in the game rose even further. On a night when the Glengormley side needed leaders, Maskey stood tall for his side. A man of the match performance with his all-round display that had it all. Catching ball from kick outs that he simply had no right to even get a hand on, scoring the goal that effectively sealed the final for his side while dropping back to defence in the closing stages as Mullahoran launched an aerial assault on the Naomh Éanna full back line in injury time. He even offered his services to go into nets after Paddy Flood was black carded. That one fact tells you everything you need to know about Naomh Éanna’s not-so-average Joe. He epitomises the spirit within the Naomh Éanna side and on Saturday evening in Armagh, that spirit shone bright.
Maskey has been making waves in recent times with Antrim hurlers, becoming a pivotal member of their team and there’s no doubt the new Saffron manager Neal Peden will be keeping an eye on his fortunes over the next number of weeks but for now, Maskey will be devoting his services to Frank Fitzsimmons’ side.
On Saturday night as the Naomh Éanna faithful spilled out onto the Athletic Grounds surface, Maskey was a man in demand. The youth of the Hightown Road side already idolise the man and his performance in helping Naomh Éanna become Ulster champions had every child associated with the club looking a photograph with the big midfielder.
His 52nd minute goal proved to be the difference with Naomh Éanna taking full advantage of Mullahoran hitting the crossbar. Less than 20 seconds later, Maskey had the ball in the back of Mullahoran’s net, Maskey added: “I missed something similar the last day when it was on my left but this time it was on my right so thankfully I scored it.”
Having led by three at half time, Naomh Éanna had to withstand a second half fightback from the Cavan side and Maskey told us they just had to trust their abilities: “They came out and scored three on the bounce but we had it in our head that we weren’t going to go behind and thankfully we came back again.
“We always knew they would come at us. Every team has that but they kinda run out of steam a wee bit. They got the penalty, Paddy had to take him down as it was a certain goal. They got the goal but thankfully we didn’t squander our lead. We just had a bit more experience from losing those U21 semi-finals and choking in our own championship for years, we’ve learned from it and here we are now.
“It’s the first time any of us have experienced this. Frank said in the changing rooms that it could be the last time any of us get to experience this. Hopefully it’s not, this is class.”
Having finally won the Antrim championship, the Hightown Road men have won Ulster by accounting for the Monaghan, Tyrone and now the Cavan champions. All counties with rich histories in the Intermediate championship in Ulster. Maskey told us they want to keep the dream going: “We went seven up and we just kept running at them. I think that’s where our fitness came in. We had a plan, we stuck to it and thankfully we won. I think it’s Spiddal we play now and that’s something to look forward to.
“We’re a very, very fit and fast team and it will take a very good team on their day to get past us. They tried to come at us today but thankfully we showed a wee bit more character and got over the line.
“We’ll give it a go. We’re confident and now were Ulster champions and not just Antrim champions. Ulster’s a very good standard and other teams will be thinking the same but we’ll look forward to it.”