Harry Plunkett, right, in action for Offaly minor footballers.
TALENTED emerging footballer Harry Plunkett suffered a broken ankle in a colleges challenge game last Friday, ruling him out of action for big games in the coming season.
A bright prospect with the potential to play county senior football, Plunkett had a bad break while playing for Colaiste Choilm, Tullamore in a challenge game against St Joseph's of Rochfortbridge.
Both schools are preparing for big finals next week. Colaiste Choilm, Tullamore play Cnoc Mhuire, Granard in the Leinster Colleges SF “B” final in Mullingar on Friday, July 17 at 1.00pm while the Leinster Colleges SFC final between St Joseph's and Naas CBS will have a 4.00pm throw in at O'Connor Park, Tullamore.
Plunkett has been in great form for a very good Colaiste Choilm side, playing with great flair, skill and composure in an attacking midfield role. His injury is a huge blow to the player and his school as well as Offaly and Tullamore minor footballers, for whom he would have been a pivotal and influential figure.
He played minor football (U-17) for Offaly last year and his development as an outstanding young footballer has been particularly noteworthy as he spent a few years away from the game after his parents Mark and Jennifer and family moved to just outside scenic and historic Wells in Somerset, England. He played soccer and rugby there but was still able to quickly fit back into football after his family returned to Tullamore in the past couple of years.
Harry's father Mark was a former Tullamore and Offaly footballer. Outstanding on the Offaly side that won the All-Ireland U-21 Football Championship for the only time in 1988, he played international rules for Ireland in 1990 and made 34 league and championship appearances for Offaly senior footballers from 1987 to 1993. He subsequently served as an Offaly senior football selector on a couple of occasions and has managed various club sides over the years. Harry's older brother Luke is also a good footballer and has played senior for Tullamore.
Harry Plunkett was carried off after breaking his right ankle in the first half of Colaiste Choilm's narrow defeat by St Joseph's. He got a plate inserted and may need another operation on ligaments. Colaiste Choilm manager Niall Stack stated this week that their only concern is for the player and that hopefully he will make a full recovery over the coming months.
The young player only turned 17 in mid June and he is one of two major losses for Colaiste Choilm. Full back Kieran Dolan from Shamrocks, also a potential future Offaly senior player, sustained a bad neck injury in a car accident earlier this year but is making a good recovery. While unable to engage in physical contact sport at the moment, he is back running and was at Colaiste Choilm's earlier games before activity was shutdown because of Covid-19.
Last week's game was a useful and competitive challenge where Colaiste Choilm held their own against a very strong St Joseph's side – they used 23 players as they got a much needed match under their belt, though it came at an unfortunate cost. Incidentally, the game pitted Niall Stack against his predecessor as Tullamore senior football manager, John Rouse, who manages St Joseph's along with former Westmeath manager Luke Dempsey – Rouse is now a teacher in St Joseph's.
Stack, a Mullingar based garda detective, took over as Tullamore senior football manager this year from John Rouse and he is in his second year at the helm of his former alma mater, Colaiste Choilm, working with another former student and Tullamore team mate, James Buckley and teachers, John Lydon and Ronan Farrell.
Colaiste Choilm have been in great form this year, winning the South Leinster title in style for the second successive year and reaching the full Leinster final on this occasion. Picking players from a variety of underage sides, including Tullamore, Na Fianna, St Vincent's, Shamrocks and Kilcormac/Killoughey, a number of their players will be on the Offaly minor football team this year while others are overage for that.
The revised draws for the Leinster Minor Football and Hurling Championships were made by Leinster Council last week.
In minor football, Offaly will face the winners of Longford and Wicklow on October 28 and the winners of this will meet Kildare or Westmeath/Louth in the Leinster semi-final on November 7.
In minor hurling, Offaly play Laois on October 17/18 with the winners meeting Antrim or Kildare a week later. The winners of this quartet will then face Dublin or Westmeath/Carlow in the Leinster semi-final on October 31/November 1 while Kilkenny and Wexford clash in the other semi-final.
In the Leinster U-20 Hurling Championship, Offaly play Westmeath on October 21 and the winners take on Dublin or Antrim/Down on October 27 – Wexford await the winners of this in the semi-final on November 7/8.