Best wishes to our Tipp folks involved in the European Soccer Championships, Euro 2012, in Poland, this month. They are former Tipperary Minor hurler, Shane Long from Gortnahoe, who has played with St. Michaels, in Tipperary Town and also with St Kevin’s in Two Mile Borris and Wolverhampton Wanderers and former Carrick United player, Stephen Hunt, from Clonea Power near Carrick On Suir. Long, a huge hero in Slieveardagh region, is now a striker with West Bromwich Albion and he previously was with Cork City and also at Reading with Kevin Doyle, also a striker in the Republic squad. Hunt was formerly with Crystal Palace.
Shane Long, born on January 22nd, 1987, is twenty five years of age and five foot and eleven inches in height. He made his debut with the Republic of Ireland against San Marino on February 7th, 2007. He has 25 caps and has scored eight goals, including the winner against Bosnia, before departing for the team’s training camp in Montecatini, Italy. Shane and all our Boys in Green are wished all the best in Poland and they take on Croatia in a crucial tie in Poznan on next Sunday, June 10th at 7.45 pm. Those not among the 40,000 Irish fans to attend the prestigious event in Poland will, no doubt, be watching the television in their homes, and in pubs and hotels not only in Tipperary but also much further afield.
Apart from the players, the FAI Chief Executive Officer, John Delaney, is also a Tipp man from Tipperary Town and he was a special guest of top club, Peake Villa at their Tower grounds in Loughtagalla in recent years when he and Ray Houghton officially opened the new Villa club premises on August 11th, 2009. And Villa legend, John Walshe, 13, Childers Park, Thurles, was presented with a Certificate to mark 30 years of loyal service to the top club.
Delaney, who, like Shane Long, has played with St Michaels, was Parade Grand Marshall in Tipperary Town this year when the town was celebrating the wearing of the green on St. Patrick’s Day. Delaney(44)whose current contract runs out in 2015, went to the Abbey CBS in Tipperary. His parents, Joe, and Joan, live in Tipperary. John also played GAA with Arravale Rovers. Noel Byrne, Manager of Peake Villa, Thurles, Senior team, expects our boys to “give a good account of themselves”.
Inter Milan’s Ex Player in the Square
Don’t look now but that super soccer player in Liberty Square, Thurles, is formerly of Italian super club, InterMilan! As Ireland prepare to face the might of Europe in Euro 2012, Thurles ’Mona Lisa’ Take Away owner, Achille Orlandi, will have more than a passing interest in the prestigious event.
Achille Orlandi, like generations of his family, a passionate Juventus fan, once had a call up with the famous Italian club, Inter Milan, who have a mighty impressive record. ”Ireland are in an extremely difficult group and I think the group winners will be semi-finalists, at least”, he told this column on the day Italy was rocked by a major earthquake which claimed, ,according to news reports, at least fifteen lives(RIP).
In the ‘Sixties, when Achille was only twelve or thirteen years of age, Republic of Ireland Manager, Trapattoni, played a defensive mid field role with Inter’s arch rivals, AC ,Milan. “The Ireland manager was renowned for having held the great Pele of Brazil scoreless on a famous occasion. Achille feels the Ireland versus Italy match on June 18 in Poznan will be “decisive”. I feel the Ireland versus Croatia opening match for the Republic will see great commitment and passion from Croatia who are very nationalistic. Their coach, Bilic, played in the English Premiership. Croatia are a strong team and will be extremely difficult to play. ”I feel that Giovanni Trapattoni‘s values as a player will be the same as a manager. He is constant in the way he chooses to play I think these Euro Finals are different to the time of Jack Charlton. Remember, Charlton had six or seven top world class players in his team”. I think Shane Long has a great future” said Achille who was in business in Thurles for 38 years in May. Achille and his father, Vincenzo, and mother, Maria Pia, arrived in Ireland in 1971 from Milan. This column featured a story on Vincenzo who died in a tragic car accident in Johnstown on Good Friday, 1977. Vincenzo was an awards winning singer of renown who won prizes in Italy and also sang on Canadian Television and once figured in an impromptu concert in the Mona Lisa Restaurant with former “Late Late Show” Musical Director, Frank McNamara and Frank’s late father, music teacher and former band leader, Ciaran McNamara, formerly of Clongour, Thurles.”They played piano and sang here” said Achille.
Achille Orlandi recalled how he was selected to train with the great Inter Milan.”I was playing football in a public park in Milan with other boys when two Inter Milan scouts approached me and told me they would see my parents and arrange to have me go to trials with Inter Milan. I trained in the same stadium as the Senior A team, learning the skills and playing, for some time, in the stadium”. He is eagerly awaiting the Ireland versus Italy match. He said, diplomatically perhaps. ”It is my hope that both countries qualify. That is always the way here with us. I have so many memories of the World Cup in I990 (and, yes, I have met Niall Quinn) and I recall the Giants Stadium in New Jersey in 1974. What a goal from Ray Houghton”.
He admires the Republic Manager, Trapattoni,”He has a passion for football. He is not there just for the money. I can see what he has done for the Republic of Ireland players and teaching them how to pass the ball to one another and play creatively and to use the wings, and that. I can see what he is doing and it’s working. “
After leaving Milan, Achille’s family subsequently went to Canada, where Achille played schools’ soccer in Toronto. Later, when the family came to Ireland in 1971, Achille went to school to St. Mary’s CBS, Mullingar “I remember Brother Donnelly, Principal there, and the great Maths teacher, Brother Keegan who wrote the Maths Leaving Cert book. While in Canada, Achille played with Chaminade Christian Brothers School in Toronto and they won the Toronto Schools League. Achille always played as a forward. He also praised Johnny Giles, Eamonn Dunphy and Ray Houghton as top class soccer analysts “Trapattoni was a very good player with total dedication and great passion”.
“We moved to Thurles and opened the Mona Lisa in 1974 on May 2”. Over the years Achille has taught Italian at Maynooth University.”It’s a tough language”. Achille regrets that the same attention is not given to Latin and the Classical languages as formerly and he also dismisses the notion of those who would decry An Gaeilge as a so called ‘dead’ language.
Achille also taught Italian to teachers and also taught the Transition Year students at Ursuline Convent, Thurles and at Presentation Convent Secondary School, Thurles. He strongly believes additional languages are no burden to anybody but a great blessing.
Achille has admiration for local soccer clubs, including Peake Villa, but the nature of his business schedule does not allow him to involve himself as much as he would like and he believes that Sunday is a day for the family to be together. However, he loves running to keep fit and warmly praised the facilities at Thurles Crokes AC grounds, He recalls the days when Franz Molloy had the shop on the corner up the road from the Mona Lisa and when J K Moloney’s and Louise Kennedy, the celebrated designer, were across the road from him.” JK’s was “a fantastic place”, he said
So, he remembers when he trained in the same Stadium as Inter Milan and wore the black and blue kit “It was so exciting to be there, training with the Senior A team Very exciting”. He recalls great soccer figures like, Herrera Facchetti and Pele. About whom he has tales to tell to football afficianados.
Closer to home, he sees the many changes in Thurles life, mainly brought on by the Celtic Tiger era, “an illusion”. He feels people have less time to talk than they used to and he speaks about the Mona Lisa smile and feels it’ s important for his folks in his business to always remember that people are people and not objects and so should be treated with respect and courtesy, and good manners always.
We talk about the old Market House in the Square where once boys played hurling and soccer and he remarks how fortunate we are to have a Square such as you would not have in other towns.
Achille and his wife, Mary(Nee Kenny of Shane Long country in Gortnahoe) have three daughters, Teresa, Senior speech and Language Therapist with Enable Ireland in Cork, and married to Clifford Killeen. Daniela, a planner in Lugano in Italy, and Giada who has a Masters in Theatre Studies from UCC and who is well known for her work for Phoenix Productions, Thurles, and the Source.
Shane Long’s message To LIT, Thurles
Tipperary’s All-Ireland winning captain Eoin Kelly, Hurler of the Year Lar Corbett, and 2001 Tipperary All-Ireland winning captain and hurling legend, Tommy Dunne, were among the large attendance gathered in Tipperary Institute (LIT Tipperary) for the launch of the Institute’s new Bachelor of Science (Hons) Degree in Sports Strength and Conditioning at Thurles campus At that time Shane Long sent a message of congratulations to the Institute on the new programme “As a sports person I recognise and appreciate the importance of coaching and conditioning in the area of sports and its role in the future and it is significant that this innovative degree course is available in a county so full of sporting passion and pride.” he stated.