A Clonmel schoolteacher will be hoping to provide his principal with a headache or two next Sunday, but outside of the classroom, of course, writes Jeddy Walsh.
Clonmel Presentation Secondary School PE and Maths teacher Paul Whyte happens to be full-forward on the Waterford senior football team to play Tipperary in Semple Stadium. His school principal is none other than Michael O’Loughlin, trainer/selector for the Tipperary team.
For one day at least, the 23 year-old Kilrossanty clubman will be hoping to outsmart his boss and the whole of the Tipp defence as Waterford go in search of a big upset against hot favourites Tipp.
Since Paul made his debut for Waterford in 2011 under John Owens, a day in which Waterford won their first- ever qualifier game (v London in Ruislip), the 6’2” full-forward has never tasted defeat to Tipperary at senior level.
In the three times the sides have met, Paul has been on the winning team twice and drawn the other game.
Obviously he will be hoping for that trend to continue in the championship in Thurles on Sunday next.
Talented from an early age, Paul represented Ireland at soccer at under 15, 16 and 17 level, playing alongside the likes of Robbie Brady (Hull) and Jeff Hendrick (Derby County). He also had trials with numerous British clubs such as Hearts, Aberdeen, Derby, Plymouth and indeed six times at Wolves ,”but things just didn’t work out at the time for me” he added.
Since then Paul has been carving out a reputation for himself as a top scoring forward representing Waterford at all levels and playing Sigerson Cup with the University of Limerick from where he qualified in teaching last year.
In his last two apperances against Tipperary Paul has found the net both times, tagging on 1-4 and 1-5 respectively and felt Waterford were unlucky not to beat Tipp in Clonmel in the drawn game 12 months ago when a late effort of his just drifted wide of the upright at the Cantwell Street end of the field.
Paul is very impressed with new manager Tom McGlinchey saying “he knows what he wants, he tells you straight up, we’re doing this, we’re doing this, this is the way he wants it, he does it his way. Looking back to other years it was too much psychology and stuff, he just wants football, the more football you get the better you’re going to become according to the manager,” added Paul.
Waterford had a great start this year under McGlinchey winning their first five games including the McGrath Cup for only the county’s second time. Since then the winning roll has dried up and I put it to Paul that the league campaign was disappointing overall.
“We were unlucky in the league, we lost three games by two points which we probably should have won. We got just one win (Wicklow) and one draw against London. After the good start to the year it was disappointing,” he added.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s game Paul said “Look, on league form and going on what Tipperary’s under 21s have done this year, they are the form side and would be expected to win but we will have no fear of Tipp and it will be a close game. We will be definite underdogs but we always are”.
We have prepared well “we do exactly what the other counties do , it’s just that in other counties they have more top quality players at the highest level, but we make the exact same effort in Waterford as they do,” he added.
“You would have to be impressed with Tipp though, the under 21 lads, Colin O’Riordan and Steven O’Brien in the middle have been outstanding. If we can compete there that will go a long way to stopping them. That’s where the winning and losing of the game is going to be in the middle, they are so good around there. We will have Tommy Prendergast and Patrick Hurney in midfield. We are hoping their experience might tell around there,” added the Kilrossanty man.
“For the last couple of years there has been nothing in it and this year it could be the same again. As I said it is around the middle of the field that will be the winning and losing of it. If we get run over there, we will be in trouble but if we can slow them up around the middle any way at all and get on top at half back then there will be nothing in it, one or two points, concluded Paul.