Damien Cahalane came into his own during Castlehaven’s penalty shoot-out victory over Dingle in the Munster club football final.
Having played 80 minutes at centre back, he swapped the number six jersey for the number one as soon as it became clear that the game was going to a shoot-out.
Cahalane, the Cork hurling full back, has expertise in this area having played in goals for Greenwood FC during their U16 National Cup winning season in 2009.
That experience certainly stood to him in the shoot-out, with Cahalane stopping Kerry senior Tom O’Sullivan’s effort before scoring two of his own.
As he smiled and laughed and talked the whole way through, it was abundantly clear was that the 31-year-old was enjoying his trip down memory lane.
There was even a hint of mind-games, as former Tyrone footballer Kyle Coney mentioned on this week’s GAA Hour.
“A wee bit of Emi Martinez about him, is there,” said Coney, in reference to Argentina’s World Cup winning goalie.
— Michael Hurley (@michaelhurley9) December 10, 2023
“It seemed he enjoyed the situation he found himself in. If it had been me, I know I’d have been going in just trying to concentrate on how to save one or how to get down to the corners.
“But he relished it. Fair play to him. After playing 80 minutes and then going into goals, scoring two, it was incredible,” said Coney.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner after the game, Castlehaven manager James McCarthy said that Cahalane is ‘good at that part of the job as well.’
“He’s a big boy, you could see he was making his presence felt,” said manager James McCarthy.
“I think it was a bit of a mind game as well and he’s good at that part of the job as well.”
You can watch Cahalane’s penalty and some of the ‘mind-games’ courtesy of TG4 below.
— Niall McIntyre (@NiallMcintyre) December 10, 2023
An interesting quirk of Cahalane’s time as a goalkeeper is that, with Greenwood FC, John Egan was the centre half that played in front of him.
The Sheffield United and Republic of Ireland defender told once told Tomás Ó Sé’s Benetti Menswear podcast that, if he had the urge, the multi-talented Cahalane could have gone further as a keeper.
“He was a really, really good goalie and he probably could have taken it further,” Egan told Comhrá le Tomás.
“We won the All-Ireland at U16. Damo actually scored in the final, he kicked the ball out of his hands and it went the length of the pitch and bounced over the other keeper’s head.”
“Me and Damo used to puck the heads off each other in the games, even though we were best friends,” said Egan, with himself and Cahalane having grown up as neighbours who played for different GAA clubs, in Bishopstown and Castlehaven.
Meanwhile, while the Dingle manager Pádraig Corcoran admitted that a shoot-out was a cruel way for his side to lose, he offered up no excuses – from that perspective nor from a weather perspective.
“It’s a cruel way but they’re the rules and we have to get on with it.
“We don’t make the rules and unfortunately the day of replays seem to be gone,” he said.
“I don’t think I was worried about it [ the game not going ahead].
“Even just speaking to the ground staff beforehand they said it would be okay but there was a lot of water there, particularly on the stand side, but I don’t think there was ever a mention that the game wasn’t going to go ahead.”
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