The worst of days ended up being the best of days

Memories remain vivid of attending #Meath’s All Ireland Ladies JFC win over #Donegal, for several reasons. One of which was uninformed curiosity as to why two members of the panel it was known were from #Dunboyne – Dorothy McGoldrick and Lisa Kane – lined out for other clubs.

Research thereafter of course showed there was no team in the town at that time. There had been prior to that, but, as of then, lady footballers in the locality tended to ply their trade in Ratoath, Kilbride, Summerhill and possibly other places too. However, just like St Peter’s College, the old national school in the village can be signposted as the location where ladies football in the town was reborn, following a meeting thence in 1996.

It’s undoubtedly far from coincidence that the establishment of the school – in 1994 – was the catalyst for the reformation of a ladies team in Dunboyne as many of the ladies who went on to be part of that pioneering group played their first football for the college. They quickly made an impact at adult level too, winning Junior and Intermediate Championships in consecutive years.

Bountiful success at underage level followed but, for whatever reason, further on, things didn’t go according to plan. Yet, as with anything, the most important mantra is to never give up. It was that which saw Camogie restart within the club in 2004 and prosper thereafter. Even allowing for that, mind you, not even Hans Christian Anderson could’ve envisaged such a fairytale return to adult ladies football fare for Dunboyne.

Several thoughts abound. Firstly that, with fixture congestion and player burnout seemingly an unending and ever more contentious subject, many of the club’s players made light of such concerns in this instance – many of them contesting up to five finals throughout the course of a long and unforgettable season between football and camogie.

And that’s without taking cognisance of the number of younger players who lined out for underage teams to boot. In fact, the success which resulted would appear to add credence to Maurice Fitzgerald’s theory that – owing to the elongated championship structure in Kerry – his St Mary’s players actually benefitted from having several consecutive games.

Momentum is indeed of the biggest game changer. That said, annexation of the league title at the expense of St Ultan’s in midsummer at Kilbride would’ve been an outstanding achievement in itself. Sometimes though, you get the impression there’s something special at play and even at that point the impression was that the story was far from over.

When Dunboyne’s men last lifted the Keegan Cup in 2005 I was derided in some quarters for suggesting that it was their destiny to do so following the death of Tom Yourell – my late mentor and inspiration who was that and so much more to St Peter’s GAA Club – by way of tribute to the great man.

Well, very early in the ladies ultimately glorious campaign comparable gut feelings manifested themselves, for several reasons. Firstly and most poignantly as they too had some very special people gently guiding them from the football field above. But also – and this is only superstition on my part – with this being the first season that all of Gaeldom in Dunboyne was under the one banner, wasn’t it nearly a given that something momentous would occur.

Thinking and doing it is what separates dreamers from achievers. So, even after Clann Na nGael were conquered 4-13 to 2-08 on Brews Hill for a memorable county final victory, the sense was that, such was the momentum behind this outfit that the best of the journey may well have still lay ahead.

There’s something very special about GAA – and specifically the provincial club championships – at the back end of the year. Fond recollections are held of winters spent following whoever the Meath champions happened to be – and one tagging along with the Dublin representatives – around Leinster.

Nothing compares to your own however. Whether it was our club’s heroic, if ultimately fruitless, effort against Kilmacud Crokes in 1998 or the day the whole town descended upon Ballyragget, Co Kilkenny, in 2005 to take on and defeat St Martin’s Muckalee and set up a rematch with Kilmacud. That one didn’t go so well!

Now, it’s accepted that some will crab about this corner writing about the latest journey having not been at any of the games. Rest assured, these wheels would’ve been in situ had circumstance allowed. However, be equally certain that as ever a constant presence was maintained in spirit and that said often beleaguered spirits have been immeasurably elevated by what these wonderful people have achieved.

Emotional admission approaching – I always dreamed of the day our club would contest an All Ireland final but scarcely considered such a reality. Until, that is, Storm Desmond having made it the worst of days it ended up being the best of days for Dunboyne. The kind of day you dream of. And this dream came true!


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