For almost as long as there’s been football in Drimnagh, there has been Galty Celtic – an institution founded on Galtymore Road in the south Dublin parish.
Galty, founded in 1952, predate both St John Bosco’s and Mourne Celtic but have hit hard times in recent decades – but one constant has been Brendan Dempsey.
The 68-year-old has been, all at once, chairman, treasurer and senior manager at times, but the club has struggled on in one way or another and have enjoyed a recent renaissance.
After dominating the Leinster Football League for the past seven years, winning 18 trophies in that time, they returned to the bigtime last year as they make the step up to AUL Senior Saturday.
Dempsey phoned, emailed, text and drove to players’ doors to get together a side for the big step and initial signs are good.
Before Friday’s level 3 restrictions came into force and AUL action was called to a halt, Galty won the only game to be played in the division to date, a 3-2 success against Valley Park United.
With the likes of Crumlin United, Lourdes Celtic and Larkview Boys just down the road, the Crumlin-Kimmage-Drimnagh area has always been a massive and competitive football area.
Former Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr hails from Drimnagh, though he played his football in Crumlin, while local boys Dean Delany and Kevin Moran have won international trophies.
Charged with the stewardship of Drimnagh’s oldest clubs for the last 19 years, since the death of Jamie Gannon, has been Dempsey – a former FAI Junior Cup winner with St Teresa’s in 1981.
As a Galtymore Road native and former schoolboy player with the club, he’s kept the flame burning in junior football and has his eyes now on re-establishing the underage section in a soccer-mad area.
“It would mean everything to have a successful Galty side in Drimnagh, even in junior football,” Dempsey tells the Dublin Gazette.
“As it is I could have two teams, believe it or not, whereas a year ago I had nothing. Next year, please god.
“We have followers now, asking me about schoolboys and that will be the next way to go, because Galty always had a schoolboy team. [Brickfields astro] is a great bonus, a great attraction.
“What I’ve found in Drimnagh, over the past 30 or 40 years, is grandsons would knock on your door and say ‘have you not got a schoolboy team? My granda played for Galty.’ There is room.”
At 68, the same age as the club, school bus driver Dempsey knows he will have to take a step back eventually but he’s determined to put in place a structure to ensure Galty can thrive.
He would have entered the Leinster Senior League rather than the AUL, given the choice, but the players were unable to commit to Sunday football.
Changing lifestyles have contributed to this shift, as well as the gig economy that offers young men work on weekends rather than steady jobs, and it’s taken its toll on amateur football.
“To put it bluntly, youngfellas won’t get out of bed Sunday morning.
“I was talking to Martin Loughran from Crumlin, and they’re senior intermediate, and he has the same problem himself.
“If he has a problem getting an intermediate fella out of bed to play a match, imagine what a problem I have with an 18 or 19-year-old. Friday night suits them down to the ground.
“That’s why I wouldn’t go Leinster Senior, that’s why I wouldn’t go Sunday morning, I knew exactly what I’d get. It’s not like years ago – youngfellas are a different breed.”