Every so often, a player comes along bursting with potential. Sometimes it’s fulfilled, sometimes not. Circumstances often intervene. Norman Whiteside springs to mind. This corner can’t remember the man in question, but the consensus seems to be there was much more to come. The same applies to jockeys Shane Broderick and Peter Toole. When the cream does rise to the top, though, it should be savoured!
It’d be openly admitted that not much is recalled about Bryan Menton’s underage career, but, when the Donaghmore/Ashbourne clubman was first seen ‘in the flesh – playing fullback for the county seniors against Galway in Summerhill – it was clear the football world was his oyster.
Injury intervened, though, and delayed the solidifying of his status as a key player on Meath teams for many years to come. That process is gathering pace now though – as is evidenced by the national notoriety he has attained in recent times. Every bit of it has been merited too.
The Sigerson Cup is one of the most divisive topics in the GAA. Primarily due to a topic trotted out here not so long ago – player burnout. Like it or lump it, chances are it’s here to stay. Yours truly wouldn’t have been that clued in to the fare in the competition this year but what was obvious from a long way out was that Michael Murphy was the star man on show.
Until he met the Meath man, that is. Murphy to my mind is the best forward in the country at present, leaving an indelible mark on every match he plays. Negate him, and you go a long way towards defeating whatever team he’s on. Menton doing exactly that was the key to DIT causing a massive upset by ousting holders DCU at the penultimate hurdle.
Menton, naturally, nabbed the Man of the Match gong and there was further Meath influence on the 1-11 to 0-09 scoreline with Blackhall Gaels’ Alan Nestor pointing when introduced. On the same day, Dunboyne’s Donal Lenihan starred as he – along with several other Meath players – was part of Graham Geraghty’s IT Blanchardstown team that progressed in another colleges competition.
If anyone ever tells you lightening doesn’t strike twice, don’t believe them. Operating at full back, 24 hours on Meath’s Menton was again earmarked as the most impressive player on view as he and his fellow students sauntered to a 3-08 to 0-07 win over UCC and Nestor again featured off the bench. Two lessons should emerge from the weekend’s work in terms of Meath – Menton needs to be left at fullback, and Nestor and Lenihan are worthy of call ups.
Anyway, before all that transpired, there was another case of potential being realised. From his Minor days, yours truly has told anyone who’d listen that Dan Queeney was a player to watch. Somewhat similarly to Menton, the Na Fianna player has had his injury problems have curtailed his assent to the limelight. That journey was somewhat jet propelled however when he was the star man as Sean Barry’s Meath U-21 side easily accounted for Louth in the opening round of their Championship. Granted, the quality of opposition wasn’t great and they will need to improve markedly if they are to topple a highly rated Kildare, but, amassing 3-13 represents a good haul in anyone’s language.
And Queeney was talisman in chief, accounting for 2-4, including a sumptuous effort from out under the Pairc Tailteann stand before half time. It must be added, of course that the younger brother of senior star Jamie received ample support from men like Simon Carthy, Brian Moore, Neil Shortall, Conor Downey, Eamon Wallace and Bryan McMahon.
The good news didn’t end there either. A while ago, it was intimated that St Pat’s Navan seemed to have a talented bunch at their disposal this term. Such sentiments were franked in the unusual surroundings of Ratoath when Colm O’Rourke’s charges advanced to another Leinster final.
Colaiste Eoin – Kilmacud Crokes feeder college in Stillorgan – are perennial contenders for the title and always hard beaten. The Navan school’s task wasn’t at all helped by the inability of key forward James McEntee to start the game due to an injury.
Thus, it was the Dublin school who gained the early initiative and led by 0-06 to 0-04 at the break. Such is McEntee’s role within the team, O’Rourke felt compelled to draft him in at half time. Undoubtedly it was something of a gamble, but one which paid off handsomely. Akin to his uncle Gerry – who is now also an accomplished ballroom dancer – the hard working forward made an invaluable contribution when coming off the bench.
His fellow replacement, Robert Keelaghan played an equally vital role when netting his team’s vital goal. McEntee went one better, notching four points, including the one which sealed a 1-09 to 1-08 win and a final berth. In it, they will face no easy task, namely, trying to dethrone the reigning All Ireland Champions, St Mary’s Edenderry.
Something about this St Pat’s bunch suggests they might just pull it off.