The Dolan name has become synonymous with Westmeath GAA. Brothers Dessie and Gary played a vital role in Westmeath's first and only Leinster triumph in 2004. Not to mention the hand they played in Garrycastle's success at the beginning of the last decade. It was on that epic journey to the All-Ireland club final in 2012, where the emergence of their cousin James also took place. Coming so close to immortalising themselves in GAA folklore Garrycastle narrowly lost out to Crossmaglen, but James' career never stalled. He has became a lynchpin of the Westmeath team for the past decade and continues to be one of their most important players year on year. This week we went ClubSpotting with Garrycastle hero, James Dolan.
1. What are your first memories of your club Garrycastle?
My first memories of Garrycastle was going down training for the u8’s/u10’s with Gerry O’Neill. We played a lot of street leagues back then and I just remember playing those matches. As I got older my Da, Ken, trained us the whole way up. He played us in a variety of different positions on the field. I think that is why the lads my age are well rounded footballers to this day.
2. Who were your sporting idols growing up?
I didn’t have to look too far for a sporting idol. Dessie is a first cousin of mine and I used to go up to the pitch when he was practicing his frees and kick the balls back to him. As a half back I used to look up to Tomás O’ Sé. I loved how he could nullify his man but also attack at pace and chip in with a few points.
3. What has been the proudest moment of your playing career?
I think it would have to be playing in the All Ireland club final with Garrycastle in Croke Park. When you start playing you never think you’ll get there so that was a nice occasion to look back on. Its an awful pity we never got the result!
4. Toughest opponent you have faced?
I can choose plenty that would fit that bill. Any and all of the Dublin players I’ve marked over the years, in particular Paul Flynn and Ciaran Kilkenny. Jason Doherty from Mayo caused me problems too. I got the biggest roasting from Eamon Wallace from Meath one year. The rest of the lads bailed me out that day. Thank god it’s a team sport!
5. Best player you have played with?
I’ve been very lucky to have played with a lot of those Westmeath legends from 2004 and I think many of the current Westmeath players are superstars in their own right too. Again it's probably no surprise that I mention Dessie. A man you just wanted to give the ball to at every opportunity.
6. Any pre game rituals or superstitions?
The only ritual I have is that I’d sit in the same place in the dressing room for every game. Other than that I’m quite laidback and nothing else would bother me before a game.
7. What are your hopes and ambitions for 2021?
We’d like to go as far as we can in this years county championship. To be part of a successful team at club level, and to finish the year injury free.