A glorious time to make a comeback!

#GAA –

To anyone that saw it, it probably seemed innocuous. That is, if anyone copped what had happened. Truth be told, initially nothing was thought of it here either. Dropping a pint glass is hardly that much of an earth shattering development. Hardly surprisingly, greatest annoyance at the time was over the loss of the glorious black liquid within!

October 12th, 2008. For the majority of that week, the biggest task was recovering from crestfallen disappointment at Dunboyne’s loss to Seneschalstown in the Feis Cup final. Now, some readers will know that friendships were struck up with many Yellow Furze folk going back as far as 1994 during the blue and gold’s run in the Leinster Club Championship.

However, it was in the months prior to the date pinpointed above that even more special, treasured connections with that area took hold. As it turned out, the events of the Wednesday night were – according to qualified opinion – a reoccurrence of happenings which have left life’s circumstances as they are. The friendship, kindness and encouragement afforded to me by some uniquely special people from “The Furze” around that time and thereafter has never or will never be forgotten, no matter what.

All of which made being unable to attend our lads’ recent encounter with our old foes (in which the hosts kept up their fine record against us!) was the source of great disappointment. Life has moved on immeasurably for everybody in the interim and, though, respective paths don’t get to cross that much anymore, earnest hope is that links of some sort will always be maintained.

Thankfully, though, it can be reported that, while the trip to Fr Tully Park wasn’t undertaken, after taking longer than any other in the last 26 years, I did, in fact, recently get to my first game of this season. The occasion being the Ladies U-16 FC semi final between Dunboyne and Simonstown Gaels.

Luckily, it transpired to be a glorious time to make a comeback. Most obviously because Dunboyne manufactured a fine victory after an enthralling game, but more especially, because my niece, Niamh Farrell, had an outstanding game at corner back. The other thought that struck was how old one was made to feel seeing the offspring and relatives of so many former Dunboyne stalwarts – and the daughter of a certain ex Meath manager – in action!

Thinking of all the hours of enjoyment the deeds of those men on pitches gave me over the years heavily underscored how time has moved on. At this point, it must be acknowledged what a remarkable achievement the completion of the Centre Of Excellence at Dunganny has been for all of Meath GAA. It’s not, mind you, conducive to somebody like myself watching a match on an inclement night.

One of the taglines used in the promotion of the (increasingly tedious) inter county championships is that “Nothing beats being there”. That realisation dawned in the aftermath of the girls recording a resounding success of Royal Gaels in the final. However, it was further opined that, while being there in spirit will never better the real thing, it must be some help!

Indeed, the period surrounding my, albeit belated, seasonal return was one of scarcely quantifiable success for our club, and for Meath teams on which we were very well represented. Whether it was the county senior camogie team – who’ve completed their magnificent ascent to the top tier – the minor lady and gent footballers both achieving progression or the Meath senior hurlers continuing their progress under Martin Ennis by advancing to the Christy Ring Cup decider. There’s been hurling success on the club front too, with our U-16s recently capturing their league coutesy of a 4-09 to 0-13 win over Drumree.

Now, in recent months, reference has been made several times to the column penned on the occasion of Dunboyne’s All Ireland Ladies Club JFC win last December. The aspect of same which appears most pertinent presently was lamenting how – way back when – underage successes garnered by the club were, for whatever reason, not built upon to the extent they may have been.

No such fears exist this time around. In the space of one week, county titles were annexed at Community Games, U-14 and – as covered earlier in this piece – U-16 level. What has taken matters to another level, though, is that, now, titles are being wracked up at adult level as well.

For the best part of the last two decades, Seneschalstown sides backboned by Mary and Mena Sheridan and Grainne Nulty (among many others) and St Ultan’s teams including Katie O’Brien and Irene Munnelly and Ger Doherty et al have had a stranglehold on things at the highest level. Yet Dunboyne have now beaten the latter in three adult finals quite recently, including Junior and Senior league wins in the space of 24 hours.

Somewhat unbelievably, the silver anniversary of the four game saga between the gallant warriors of Meath and Dublin is nigh. What a joy, and what a lift to the spirits, it has been to witness so much recent success as I recall the best five weeks of my life!

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