Back in 2006, having returned from my sojourn in Blighty, I was applying for a job and going through the HR hoops in the offices of Hartley People. Left in the hands of one of Fergal’s peons who had stepped out of the office for a moment when who should walk in to pick up some staples but the man himself.
I don’t know what I expected given we were in the building that bears his name, but I was awestruck. Partly that was because of a sense of embarrassment at having appropriated his name for my email address when I first started the website back in the Geocities days, a feeling made worse by having being cheekily informed by a friend of his that he had come across the website in his travels. But most of the awe (it’s not as if he was going to look at me and go “hey, aren’t you the guy who stole my name?”) came from being in the presence of an utter legend. Kenny Dalglish is all well and good as legends go, but Fergal Hartley only ever played for Waterford. And he did it all for free.
Now he is to coach the Under-21 hurlers. Only time will tell whether he is any good as a coach. But if passion and pride are really as important as many pundits seem to think, the 2011 panel should have no issues with finding sources of inspiration.