Ulster glory would be good for the heart

DAVID Teague was at the peak of his career and fitness when he says “I knew myself there was something seriously wrong”.

The 19 year old was hurling for Fermanagh and Lisbellaw and playing football with Maguiresbridge. Then- bang, it all comes to an abrupt end. Teague was diagnosed with a heart condition in 2019 after a few years of ill health.

“The year we (Fermanagh) won the Lory Meagher in 2015, I got a few episodes (breathlessness and tight chest) in matches where I had to come off during games but went completely undiagnosed for a couple of years until they eventually put a wee tracker into me and found it. There was a recommendation to stop immediately.”

Being told to stop doing something you love and have done since you first picked up the hurl at eight years old, under the watchful eye of Benny McManus, is not easy to comprehend.

“It definitely was but it wasn’t unexpected,” says the 25 year old. “I knew myself there was something seriously wrong but they weren’t finding it. I was hardly fit to breathe, so it wasn’t like it was unexpected. I knew there was something badly wrong and it was a relief when they found it.”

So here he was, in his early twenties having to hang up the boots as such. But, Teague’s involvement in the games he loved was far from over.

At the time of his diagnosis, Lisbellaw hurlers needed a manager and Teague stepped into the breach alongside Barrie Duffy who was a member of the team. That was his first taste of management and it ended in disappointment, losing to Dungannonin the first round of the Ulster Club.

Covid hit soon after and hurling was very much on the back-burner, so with no games being played Teague took up the position of manager with the Maguiresbridge footballers.

In 2021, Lisbellaw needed the role of manager filled once more and Teague was more than happy to step up. Now, going into his third year of management, Teague will be patrolling the sidelines of Healy Park during Saturday’s Ulster decider. A feat that has not been achieved by the club since 2012.

Teague, who works as a anti-money laundering specialist with Citro Fund Services in Dublin is now 60 minutes away from etching this small rural club’s name in the history books once more.

With little over 100 adult members, St Patrick’s has always punched above their weight, never moreso than this year, seeing off Newry Shamrocks and Carrickmore enroute to the decider.

Derry champions Banagher now stand in their way and while Teague has watched their semi final game against Armagh’s Middletown, he is more focused on their own game plan.

“All of us know Banagher will be the best team we have played against this season. They finished second, behind Slaughtneil in their Derry senior hurling championship group before going on to win the intermediate competition, so we know this is a huge test for us.

“To be honest we’re concentrating on ourselves and the whole year we’ve been focusing on ourselves and again, we’ll continue that trend and hopefully come out the right side of it.”

The Oakleafers will provide a stern test for Teague’s men and he is hopeful they’ll have a full complement of players to choose from, despite concerns over Dylan Bannon and John Duffy.

“We haven’t got them back playing matches yet, they’re back doing drills and runs but not playing matches,” says Teague. “The final call will probably be at Thursday night’s training but we’re hopeful on them but we just don’t want to get them back too early. We’re hopeful we will have a full squad but we’ll just have to wait and see.”

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