James McDermott became the second Roscommon footballer to win a Cork senior championship medal this decade after Nemo Rangers held off Duhallow in Sunday’s county final at Páirc Uí Rinn to win their third championship in five seasons.
The former Roscommon Gaels player, who played the full hour at midfield for the Cork city club, follows in the footsteps of Niall Daly of Pádraig Pearses, who was part of the UCC team that beat Castlehaven in 2011. McDermott’s championship debut for Roscommon was off the bench against New York in 2016, when he moved into midfield to play alongside Daly.
The 31-year-old works as a doctor, dividing his time between the UCC student health section and a private practice. He moved to Cork in July of last year along with his wife, Eilis, who is training to be a dermatologist.
Speaking to the Evening Echo newspaper, he explained the reasons for making the switch.
“I was still playing with my club Roscommon Gaels, but I contacted Paul (Kerrigan) to see if I could train with the lads. I was travelling up and down every weekend, three hours each way, from July to October and couldn’t settle at all.
“The minute the football was over we were able to settle much better and to enjoy Cork at the weekends. Then we found out we’d be staying another year with work. Once that decision was made, I decided to transfer to Nemo, who were very good to me.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, I have to say. I had been playing with the lads for 14 years at home. I must admit to having a couple of sleepless nights. I ran it by my family, Eilis, the lads in the club at home and with Paul here, but once I made my decision I was happy and comfortable with it.”
McDermott admitted that it was extremely difficult this year keeping an eye on the fortunes of the Gaels from a distance.
“The day we played Douglas in our semi-final, the Gaels were playing the county final. I came off the pitch and looked at my phone and they were seven points down at that stage, ending up losing by three. I went to watch a number of their games and I thought they’d do it this year because they had been going well,” he admitted.
Playing in Sunday’s county final was a novel experience for McDermott in that while he had played county finals before, playing against a divisional team that picks from 20 intermediate and junior clubs.
“There are no divisional teams in Roscommon, this is a totally new experience for me. They were impressive in last year’s final against the ‘Barr’s. They can all play football. The top teams in Cork are certainly at a higher level than those in Roscommon though there are some weak teams here as well,” he concluded.