Last month, I wrote about how I became a writer. This month I will tell you how I got into coaching and team management. It started accidentally rather than by design. As a child, I loved team ball games, be it a sliotar (that is a hurling ball for visitors who don’t know), a Gaelic Football or a soccer ball. I just love the physical activity of striking a ball combined with the camaraderie of doing it with a group of friends or teammates.  I loved the competitive aspect of team games and the aim to be the best you can, though in hindsight, I never really fulfilled my potential as a player in any sport, but that is a story for another day.

When I went to Carrick-On-Suir Vocational School (the Tech), there was always an annual soccer league usually run by the teachers.  By the time I got to sixth year, as said last month, the number of boys was low. I was the only sixth year boy and there was one fifth year boy, Wayne McNamara, the school caretaker’s son who had very little interest in soccer or in any sport.  However, we became good friends that year and I grew his knowledge and ability in sport. None of the teachers took on the organising of the soccer league, so in a crazy moment, I volunteered to organise the soccer league, thus began my organising career, a trait which I now know to be essential for good team management.

I got together a number of lads who would be team captains. The better players from the older classes. Together we used consensus to grade all the players. Then one by one the captains would pick a player from the seedings with the sequence being alternated so everyone got a chance to pick the best player in the seeding group. It was like a modern-day World Cup draw. Interestingly, half my team ended up being first years. The other captains thought I had been over hard on myself to ensure the integrity of the team selections. Integrity is huge for me in sport. I on the other hand saw the positives of everyone I picked and knew it was my job as player manager to cover up any weaknesses they had and exploit their strengths.  For example, Wayne McNamara was on my team. Even though he was a fifth year, everyone knew he wasn’t into soccer. However, I knew he would never stop trying and he would keep getting in the way.  I encouraged him to get in everyone’s way and it turned out to be a good defensive ploy because I made sure my skilful lads who were first years kept out of his way.   A defender has to get in the way and a lot of his job is done. And I loved work rate. Still do. Getting in the way doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Anyway, we went unbeaten in this six-a-side league all the way to the final where we were to meet the “favourites”, although in my mind we were the favourites. Belief was and is a huge part of my managerial philosophy.  The final took place at the pitch at the back of The Tech on 4th June 1980. It was a tight tense game and it was nil all with 2 minutes to go.  Our young first years were finding it hard to break down the opposition due to their physical limitations. However, we were solid at the back. I was defending and Wayne was doing what I asked. If the ball did get past us, our goalie, Noel Mackey was a safe pair of hands. The three first years David Tobin, John Connolly and John “Speedy” Kavanagh worked hard. “Speedy” was the class player, while the other two were work horses and I loved that trait.  With that 2 minutes left, I wanted to win the game, so both myself and Wayne pushed forward. I took a shot, their goalie saved, the ball pretty much hit off Wayne on the rebound. 1-Nil to us!  Wayne was my first lesson in there can be a place for everyone in the team jigsaw, if your open your eyes and mind and find it. A minute later, with their defence opened up, “Speedy” added a second and sealed the school league.  His son Daryl Kavanagh went on the play League of Ireland. I like to think “Speedy” learned something from me that he passed on to Daryl.  It may have just been a mini school soccer league, but the thrill of outwitting the opposition was like a drug.  I had been a very shy child (A lot of people who only know me in adult life, may not believe that, but it is true). Sport had changed that. Sport gave me confidence and the chance of leadership and the mini league had boosted my confidence no end.

A few months later, a similar opportunity arose in GAA.  Windgap’s Minor Gaelic Footballers were invited to take part in one off 7-A-Side football match against Callan’s footballers as part of the Coolagh Pattern. Windgap’s footballers at that time were known as Lamogue which was my townland. The Callan footballers were known as Coolagh. We were obviously invited not just because we were neighbours but because Coolagh felt they could beat us at their Pattern which is really a Field Day. Who would blame them? Unfortunately, nobody in Windgap wanted to manage us. Who wants a minor football team that never trained? The subsequent events inspired my play “Rathmore” later.  Together with Paddy Walsh (he was later to win a National Hurling league medal with Kilkenny and an Under-21 All-Ireland and also play in the 1987 Senior Hurling Final against Galway), we set about getting 7 lads to play. We were like “The Magnificent Seven”, the odds were stacked against us. We got seven aces, lads we grew up with. We were ready, kind of. We had no ball of our own for the warm up. No water, no first aid and barely got the jerseys. I think only some of our parents supported us in Coolagh.  The seven were Sean Kelly, Eamonn Murray, Jimmy Purcell, Denis Foley, Simon Brophy, Paddy and myself who were joint Player Managers. I was also Captain and although Paddy was joint manager, I was effectively the leader. Paddy and myself were really like Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen! I arrived in Coolagh on the back of Paddy’s Honda 50, barely room for the plastic gear bag. Some team bus all the same. I cannot recollect how the other five lads got there.

Again, I looked at our strengths and although I didn’t get it fully right starting off, I was prepared to switch lads around to get the best from the team. We trailed 1-1 to a goal at half time. Simon Brophy got our goal. The partisan crowd were delighted to be leading at the break. We even heard men from Callan laughing that we had nobody managing us except ourselves. I had started myself as a forward, but I was not making any impression. I knew Paddy who had started at midfield was sharper in front of the goal whereas I could and would run forever at midfield. We switched.

Coolagh got another early goal at the start of the second half. I still believed we could win and the partisan crowd even more excited. As Seamus the player, I worked harder. As Seamus, the Manager and Captain, I shouted louder. There was nothing in mind and body that I was going to leave on that pitch. The move of Paddy to the forwards was beginning to tell, he was in outstanding form. He set up Simon Brophy for a second goal. We were a point down. With a minute to go I won a “dirty” ball at midfield, played a quick accurate pass to Paddy. He burst through the Coolagh cover and drilled the ball to that back of the net. The partisan crowd were stunned. Lamogue won 3-0 to 2-1. It was unbelievable, but true. I have the medal to this day and it is one of my most prized medals.  The addiction to team management and leadership was going from strength to strength. That was the 14th September 1980. In 1991, that became my wedding anniversary. Two great reasons to remember the past.

In 1982 and 1983, Myself and Paddy joined up with Eamonn “Grimes” Cronin to manage the Windgap Under-16 and Minor hurling teams to a period of success, although maybe slightly under achieving too. I was learning all the time about players and their strengths and how to utilise them as best we could. We lost the South Roinn C Minor final to Carrickshock in 1982 and then Kilmacow in 1983.  In between in 1983, we beat Conahy Shamrocks in the Minor Roinn C League Final 0-11 to 1-5.  It was Windgap’s first ever minor county title. Another historic victory.  Twenty-one and I had led a team to county success.

My peers recognised my leadership qualities, though others saw them as a threat. Club politics soon saw my management roles end for a number of years. From a playing point of view, it was a blessing in disguise and club politics is also a story for another day.  However, the shoots were growing and I was now a junkie who thrived on organising and leadership, A humble plaque from a mini school soccer league and a humble medal from a once off 7-a-Side Gaelic Football match had laid the foundation for later successes such as All-Ireland success with Kilkenny Under-14 hurlers in both the Tony Forristal and Sonny Walsh tournaments.  I have managed in Hurling, Gaelic Football and Ladies Football at inter county level, the only Kilkenny person to manage in three of the four team codes for Kilkenny. I have also managed in all plus Camogie at club level.

I love the challenge of outwitting the manager of the opposition. I love the challenge of getting all the pieces of the jigsaw in the right place. I love the mental analysis of my team’s performance versus that of the opposition. I love getting to know what makes a player tick, finding their strengths and their weaknesses, looking for opportunities and reducing the threats. I love the planning and organising. I love the fruits of success. In the words of John Quincy Adams” If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”. The last chapter is not written in this story yet, by a long shot.


I grew up in an era when Westerns were very popular on television and Cowboys and Indians was the game of choice for young boys outside hurling and football. Playing Cowboys and Indians always involved a great deal of imagination and exploited the creative minds of young children as we hunted the Indians and the outlaws, charged with the bugle blowing Cavalry and we were the Sheriff who cleaned up the town while riding imaginary horses and shooting imaginary guns sometimes improvised as sticks or hurleys.  It was an era when good always won in the end, although the Indians were mainly seen as the baddies, though history is now reflected differently.  Nobody really played the Indians in those days unless someone’s sister. The Apache, Comanche and Sioux were always imaginary in our games.  Programmes like Bonanza, The Virginian and many Audie Murphy and John Wayne Westerns cultivated an imagination where adversity had to be overcome and the hero always got the beautiful girl, usually after a huge shoot out where the adversary is shot many times and “killed” many times over.  In fact, my imagination was so vivid and I was so naïve that my ambition when I grew up was that I wanted to be a cowboy; because I thought they were real. Some would say I still managed to become a “cowboy”.

So when I was about 10 years of age and my Aunt Mary who is a St. John Of God nun currently based in Australia, bought me a blank copy book with a hard cover, it was an opportunity to write a book and what topic did I know best but a Western. I’m sure someone said off the cuff, “You could write a book in that”. With an influence of the John Wayne Western film “The Sons Of Katie Elder” and the fact that I had so many uncles (Four boys on my father’s side and my mother had seven brothers), something which I yearned for as I had no brother in real life, a Western about a group of brothers joining together to take on the bad guys was an inevitable plot. I entitled it “The United Family” and several chapters were written in almost illegible pencil hand-writing (my handwriting was and still is terrible). It has never been finished as teenage years beckoned and other activities took centre stage and the realisation that Westerns, were not actually ”real” anymore, set in. The unfinished first novel still resides in my attic. Who knows may someday…

I still loved writing English prose and when I got to my Leaving Certificate years in Carrick-On-Suir Vocational School, aka “The Tech”, the classes were very small. There were two girls and myself in my year, three boys in the year ahead of us and three girls and a boy in the year behind, so fifth and sixth year were always together which made for a unique relationship with each other and our teachers. My English teacher was a Mrs. Mary Fitzgerald and she was my favourite teacher. As I did not do Irish, I did honours English , mainly on my own, but she did really help me and when it came to the English composition or essay, she encouraged my wild imagination which made the slog of other parts of the English course bearable.  I am forever grateful for her support and encouragement. She gave me freedom to write, the content was never criticised. My sister Mary took one of my essays a few years later as she had homework using the same topic title and nearly got expelled by the nuns in Callan, to put things into perspective.

I left “The Tech” in 1982 and writing left my agenda again. Theatre was a social class above me for a few years, in my narrow mind.  I got involved in Piltown Macra Na Feirme in the latter stages of 1987. In 1989, they entered the county one-act drama competition with a play called “Strawberry Jam”. Although an English play by Bruce Fisk, it was played out in an Irish scenario and to be brutally honest, in my opinion, it was really horrible “stage Irish”. However, I thought the performances of my Macra friends in the play were great despite the poor script, especially one Sheila Keegan, later to be Mrs. Sheila Norris.  I felt if they had a better script, they could do very well. So I set about writing my own comedy farce “When The Cats Away, Everybody Plays” with a view to it being performed in the 1990 County Macra Na Feirme drama competition.  I got Sheila and my sister Mary to sell the project to the rest of the club and they did a good job on it. Meanwhile, I up skilled myself in the area of acting and direction so as I could take on the directing role myself.  The play qualified for the county final and although not successful in the final it was very popular with the audience, although the judge was not impressed.   I would later portray him in my play “The Cast” as a not too popular individual. For the next four years I wrote and directed the club play and even  acted as well, winning best actor and best director awards along the way though the elusive Macra county title was never to come.

By the mid-nineties the writing bug had well and truly bitten. From 1994, I wrote the factual local notes for the Kilkenny People provincial newspaper in an adventurous way.  This I did for 2 decades highlighting many local issues and stories. I made the column interesting, informative and challenging. I went from one act plays to full length plays, to short stories and eventually a novel (Quest For Justice).  One of my plays “Weeping Women” won a competition for a rehearsed reading with Waterford playwright, Jim Nolan and was later performed by the KATS theatre group. Another “Painters Mess”, won a Drama League of Ireland competition and had a rehearsed reading with renowned director Scott Marshall.

I even dabbled in poetry, something I hated when going to school, still do if the truth be known. Subsequently song lyrics became part of my writing diet and these were put to music by my gifted brother-in-law, the US based Enda Keegan.  By the mid noughties, the kids took up more of my spare time. The GAA and sport was a better pastime to share with them as against the sometimes lonely pastime of writing. The GAA was an interest we could all share together as a family. However, over the previous decade, my portfolio had grown, but people were unaware of my treasure throve. So in 2014, I decided, what was the point in keeping my gems hidden and after many false starts I eventually came up with this website launched in 2017 for all to view my extensive works and for many to obtain and use.  My plan over the next period is to promote these works so that my plays will be performed again and my stories and novels published and more importantly read.

My genres include my childhood obsession of Westerns, but my subject matter has evolved significantly over the years. Irish stories are the nucleus. Stories based on experiences but fictionalised for dramatic effect.  You can enjoy them all on this website. Tell your friends.


Welcome to the first post on my Website.  After a number of years of trying to come up with a website that I could use to primarily promote my writings and my sports coaching skills as well a my professional talents, I am finally in a position to start promoting my website www.snorris.ie   If there is something of interest to you on the website, I hope you will spread the url.  I still have a lot of plans to develop the website further, including links to social media and shopping/payment capability. This will take time, so hopefully every so often you will see improvements and new features.  I would love to hear from you if you think, there are things that can be improved, but I would really love to hear from you even more if you are interested in my writings or coaching skills.  There is lots of bedtime reading, some listening and even viewing.  Please enjoy and thank you for your interest.

Is mise

Seamus Norris6th December 2017