Above Photo Dunboyne’s Conor Keeley.
Repetition is one of the greatest foibles in this trade. That said, if a point retains a longevity of credence, it therefore merits multiple articulations. Hours after Lt Gen Dermot Earley was laid to rest in Newbridge, Dermot Jnr. lined out for Kildare in an All Ireland SFC Qualifier against Antrim.
It was a move which probably caused some curiosity, at least. It shouldn’t have, given the store that was placed on and the honour entailed in representation for the Earley family. Now, obviously, circumstance has dulled the extent to which representation can be engaged in from this sit point.
What goes a long way to filling the void, though, is seeing others from the area achieve success in their chosen field and thus carry on the tradition of sporting stars flying the flag for the locality with distinction. Seeing them depart always leaves a pang. However, at least technology now allows the following of their crusades wherever they may wind up.
Craig Berrigan was the latest to head for foreign shores and his loss was most immediately felt when Dunboyne’s loss to Seneschalstown in the Feis Cup Final, again, led to a pondering of what might have been. Naturally, the hope for all those who emigrate is that they will one day return.
But, if there is a GAA scene in China – Kells man Mickey Farrelly is known to front a thriving efficient one elsewhere in Asia – it would be no surprise to see a wearer of our black and amber – the word ‘former’ will be refrained from – make his mark.
Were things to transpire thus, Craig would join a long and growing list of local folks making waves in sport at home and abroad recently. Much curiosity probably reverberated when it was learnt I had attended a few League Of Ireland games. Hindsight has proven that it was even more aptly timed than initially felt.
While it be admitted that preference among LOI clubs would be for Bohemians, a broader view of things will have to be accommodated. Given that Dunboyne’s Conor Keeley – also a supremely talented GAA player – has recently graduated to the Shelbourne U-19 setup while another local lad, Adam McDonnell has attained an even greater breakthrough in his career, departing the Tolka Park club for Ipswich Town.
I do not know Adam personally, yet, but it’s always a source of great pride and satisfaction to see anyone from the area do well. And there’s been plenty of it lately, with brothers Dan and Andrew Howlin currently in the initial stages of their careers with Shamrock Rovers and already making a mark.
Representing one’s country understandably ranks as the highest honour and achievement possible in any career. Plenty from Dunboyne have done so across the sporting codes over the years but what was perhaps the most recent one was a particular source of pride. That of Darragh Lenihan – whose older brother Donal has been part of Mick O’Dowd’s Meath panel in 2014 – lining out for the Irish U-21 soccer team in an unfortunately fruitless European Championship qualifying campaign. Like his elder brother, Darragh was also a talented GAA player who was part of one of the last Dunboyne sides to be involved in the All Ireland Feile competition.
In more recent years, though, his soccer stock has continued to burgeon. During last season, he made quite a breakthrough towards the Blackburn Rovers first team squad and has, so far this season, been consolidating has rising status within the club. It will be interesting and a source of great pride to see the career of another of our own continue to develop.
The Dunboyne overseas sporting success story stretches even further, mind you. All the way to Jackson, Mississippi in fact, where Cillian Thompson’s career continues to progress apace. As has been a trend throughout this piece, Cillian also achieved success in hurling and Gaelic football – his sister Aoife is also an accomplished footballer and camogie player for club and county – but Cillian has carved his own niche with Belhaven University in Jackson.
Rather fittingly, the University’s colours are green and gold (the only way it could possibly be better would be if the kit was in black and amber or the silks of his beloved Clare!) and the man donning the number 8 shirt in the Belhaven squad has evidently been making quite the impression.
Scoring twice in recent outings – most notably in the 3-0 win over LSU Alexandra on September 16th – is sure to only hasten his journey to even greater success. Seeing friends near and afar achieve sporting success brings solace of unquantifiable value. Hope will always be maintained, though, in the case of those away from home, the chance to see them strut their stuff close to home will return some day.