Gone but never forgotten

On Thursday last week (19 November 2015) at Don Bosco Care we had a lovely evening with all the young people who engage in our football evening, remembering the staff and young people associated with Don Bosco Care who have sadly passed away over the last number of years. While the evening was one of great poignancy, seeing the maturity and gifts that all our young people have fills us all with great pride.

Below is a piece written by staff member Gary O’Farrell, read out this evening, following a week with Don Bosco Red Star F.C. that captures perfectly how quickly life can change for us all… Its well worth a read!!!

A Week with Red Star

The two days between the eighteenth of June and the twentieth will be forever remembered by the players, supporters and friends of Don Bosco Red Star. From the exhilaration of a magnificent quarter final performance in which lady luck never showed up for us to the complete sense of sadness that followed on the Saturday morning when we learned of the sudden tragic death of long time friend and Red Star player Dean Mc Mahon.

After courageous and hard fought qualifying group stage performances on the Tuesday, we headed down on the eighteenth of June to Navan to compete in the quarter finals of the famous Torro seven a side tournament. We were pitted against the highly skillful OMP who are hugely successful veterans of this particular battle zone. The bookies gave the boys from Dublin little chance. The form book suggested that Red Star could endure a torrid evening. A late withdrawal of our world class midfielder Brian saw our odds lengthen dramatically. There was talk of literally a flood of one euro bets being placed on an OMP victory.

As the match began only a smattering of spectators gathered to watch the predicted rout develop. OMP were experienced and fielded a full strength team. Their determination to beat the young and inexperienced Red Star team was clearly seen in their intense pre game training routine. They were ready to put to the sword their friends from the ‘big smoke’. The fans had decided that they would watch the cup quarter final on the adjacent pitch and leave the one sided shield quarter final featuring Red star alone.

However, no one told Paddy, Dean, John, Myles, Sammi, Joe and Ciaran that they had no chance. With our great friend, Nathan from the Torro U16’s joining us in goal, Red Star took the game to OMP from the very first whistle. Early Pressure from the favourites was met with stout defending from Ciaran, Myles and Paddy. The midfield of Dean and John faced down our much fancied opponents and began to assert dominance. Joe harried and pressured their defence as if there was three of him. Nathan saved every shot directed at him with confidence. Sammi showed what a wonderful ‘impact’ player should be. Strong and tenacious. An old bearded bloke was given a sympathetic round of applause when he donned the famous red star hoops and tried valiantly for two minutes to touch the ball. He was mercifully substituted before he hurt himself.

And still the game continued with little to tell between the two teams. The first half had passed and Red Star were getting stronger and stronger. Slowly the crowds got bigger and bigger as word of the heroic performance from the Dublin team filtered through. The second half wore on and OMP were locked in a do or die battle. The ladies from the coffee stand closed up and headed up to witness the Drama. The biggest upset in this great tournaments storied history appeared to be on. Many of the other teams who were preparing for their own matches dropped their pre game routines and stood cheering for the underdogs. The Torro tournament organisers sensed that this could be monumental. With one minute left the teams remained tied.

However, a wonderful strike from OMP with forty five seconds left was to strike a blow to our lads that we were never able to recover from.

As the final whistle blew. Red Star left the field exhausted and crest fallen at the cruel fate that befalls even the hardest working teams.

However our disappointment was salved by the genuine support and affection shown to us by all involved in the Tournament. A huge round of applause greeted our endeavors. The handshakes and words of commiseration from the lads of OMP was genuine and appreciated. There was a clear recognition of the efforts Red Star make year in year out travelling huge distances to take part. We have never missed a year since the kind invitation from the Torro committee was extended to us in 2009. ( The year we shook the world by winning the shield!!)

The Tournament offers us in Red star a wonderful opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones. The kindness shown to us by everyone in that week in June is life affirming. Whilst many young people in our team have faced and indeed continue to face huge difficulties and challenges in their lives, the week with Torro is a place were we feel respected and welcome. Never judged and always nurtured. The Faith, Reasonableness and Kindness that was the cornerstone of Don Bosco’s work is readily offered to all by the Torro community.We hope to continue our relationship with Torro for many years to come. Dean, John, Paddy, Sammi, Joe, Myles, Nathan and Ciaran have vowed to be back even better than ever. The bearded interloper has even been seen in Navan Library borrowing the ‘idiots guide to football’ and the last of him may not have been seen yet.!!!

Two days later on June the twentieth we were shocked to learn of the sudden passing of Dean. He arrived at Red Star training as a 15 year old with a winning smile and neat touch. For five years he was a much loved and respected part of our team. Words cannot express our sadness to this tragic loss. Our thoughts go with his family and friends.