Living on the border - Ballaghaderreen's David Drake on the friendly derby?

The Mayo defender on living within the Roscommon border.

David Drake is relishing the banter.
David Drake is relishing the banter.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

DAVID DRAKE CALLS it tongue-in-cheek banter but it can’t be easy living in Roscommon and playing for Mayo.

The 24-year-old defender plays with and lives in his local town Ballaghaderreen — where despite being located in Roscommon, the local GAA club are under the Mayo GAA county board.

The end product being, as you’d imagine a feisty rivalry within the town whenever the two counties meet.

“It is exciting,” he says “there is a lot of slagging a lot of tongue in cheek but it is not like derbies in other sport in that there is no badness in it. There is a good buzz about it.”

This Sunday, Mayo meet Roscommon in the Connacht championship semi final, and having become an important part of the Mayo senior panel this year Drake can now experience how the the rivalry transpires from the other side of the fence.

“If you are a Mayo person, you are a proud Mayo person and the same applies for the Roscommon people, you don’t want to be on the other side of the result. So when Monday morning comes you don’t want to be on the wrong side of it because the slagging will come.”

David Drake 9/2/2014 Drake started against Tyrone in this year's league encounter. Source: Presseye/Darren Kidd/INPHO

Ballaghaderreen has been at the centre of the debate between Mayo and Roscommon people for over a century. In 1898 the town was transferred from County Mayo to County Roscommon under the Local Government Act relating to Poor Laws Union.

Despite the change, the GAA club’s officials refused to transfer their teams in to the Roscommon championship and they have remained in Mayo since despite a number of attempts from the Rossies to seek the footballing advantages of their second biggest town.

“Everyone knows, the majority of our team would now be Mayo people and you would know the Roscommom people.

“When Roscommon are playing the Mayo people have always been good in supporting them and I feel the same that the vice versa applies. It is important to support Connacht football as a whole and it was great to see Roscommon getting to the under-21 final and we were all supporting them.”

Sean Purcell, Donal Shine, Senan Kilbride, Conor Devaney, Cathal Cregg and Kevin Higgins Cathal Cregg is just down the road while Senan Kilbride's father famously played for the Rossies despite being from 'Ballagh'. Source: James Crombie

Drake made five appearances in this year’s league campaign, starting at wing-back in the defeat to Tyrone in March.

“I was on the other side of the fence for the last couple of years. I will always remember the 2011 game when Robbie took the ball from over the cross-bar and we went down the other end that day and got the insurance score, the head was in the hand that day and I was chewing the nails. From the Hyde perspective it is always a tight game and we are expecting nothing different this week.”

Niall Carty and Andy Moran Another 'Ballagh' man Andy Moran in the 2011 Connacht final. Source: Cathal Noonan

Drake can’t turn without bumping into Roscommon men, he actually works alongside last year’s Roscommon captain Cathal Cregg who himself went to school in Ballaghaderreen.

“With all the training and work you are away from a lot of the craic. I work with Paddy Brogan and Cathal Cregg in Ballyhaunis. We tend not to talk about football, there would be a bit of slagging at lunch, but we try to bite our tongues.

“Cathal is the strength and condition coach for Connacht and I am doing an internship under him. We take in a lot of teams and they test under us. We send them back the result and draw up programmes and we also do video analysis and stuff like that. I am more on the scientific side of it. I did four years in Sligo IT doing recreation and leisure and then I did my masters in sports management in UCD. So when the opportunity for the internship came along, it was perfect timing.”

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The Mayo Team The Mayo squad who traveled to New York for this year's championship opener. Source: Andy Marlin/INPHO

Mayo eased by New York in the Connacht quarter final, and despite the somewhat easy victory Drake cherished the experience.

“I found great pride going over, looking down at the badge on my chest and you realise you are representing Mayo and I felt privileged to be promoting the game over there. We wanted to go over there and be as professional as possible and we did that very well. We had a good win and no injuries which was very important.

“I have been in since January. Thankfully I got the opportunity and you just have to realise that when you get  in you just have to take your chances. I am still here but once once you are in, you want to play. No-one wants to sit on the bench without a jersey.

“When you get in you reassess your goals and that is where I am now, every time you go to training you have to perform to your max. If you play well in training, you get your opportunity.”

Gavin Duffy Former Connacht rugby captain Gavin Duffy is a great addition to the Mayo panel. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The young defender couldn’t have picked a better time to be involved with the Mayo team; favorites to win a fourth consecutive provincial title and then on top of that Gavin Duffy comes along and joins the panel.

“There is a great buzz about the place. A lot of us would have followed Gavin’s career over the last 12 or 13 years. It’s fantastic to see him around the dressing room, guys got a bit of a kick from it . It remains to be seen what he will bring, but he is a real nice guy, he is a real professional so it just remains to see what he can offer us.”

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