In Dunboyne’s first year back in the Meath SFC after a near 40-year hiatus, 1993, the encountered then champions Skryne in the last eight and gave them a right run for their money. Until, as was mentioned in a previous offering, an occurrence which has been added to the annals locally brought things to a shuddering halt.
There was a changing of the guard along our sideline thereafter. With the wonderful Waterville man Eugene Dennehy taking the reins. Quarter Final misery was his lot during his tenure also. The 1995 exit to Kilmainhamwood is still ruefully recalled in these parts, but while this production was in its planning stages it was the previous year’s reversal against Skryne, again, that was recalled.
The game was nowhere near as eventful as the previous season’s. Those chasing three-in-a-row at the time ran out comprehensive winners on a night Mr O’Rourke delivered the type of display which, had it been in a Meath jersey would have been marvelled at. That wasn’t the reason for this column, however.
No, what brought this one about was the game which one watched on television before heading off to Pairc Tailteann. Namely, Offaly’s unforgettable overhauling of Limerick in the All Ireland SHC Final. So remarkable and unlikely was it that it was akin to watching two different games.
Remember, in the opening stanza, Limerick’s Damien Quigley put on the type of display that would’ve merited Man Of The Match and All Star accreditation immediately. By game’s end, though, the Na Piarsaigh clubman’s efforts counted for nought. That was a serious Offaly team – think of the names: Troy, Whelehan, Hanamy, Rigney, Pilkingtons, Dooleys. Household every one of them.
Looking at things from a neutral perspective, it always appeared that Offaly were punching above their weight. I mean that totally as a compliment. When you consider the demographics of the ‘hurling population’ in the county, their prominence in the game for the best part of two decades was quite astounding.
Granted, those same circumstances can, I’m sure, be pinpointed as reasons for the travails the county has endured in recent years. The nadir of which was probably reached with their demotion to the Christy Ring Cup. For the sake of the county – and the game of hurling on a broader scale – you’d hope the bottom has been reached.
There are good hurlers in every county. Overseas too, probably. Shane Dooley ranks among the best of them. For someone with a very storied name in the game, he’s spent most of his career fighting the tide. Yet at a time when things looked like getting swamped it’s probably of the utmost importance that he toil on for a while yet.
That said, talk of drowning may be premature. Like every county, and club, I’m sure, extensive work will have been done by people Ronnie Byrne and many others striving to improve matters. It’s said the darkest hour is just before the dawn and in this case it may be worth trotting out the cliché
Or at the very least there are signs of hope. For, in the days following their succumbing to Kerry, those clad in tricolour jerseys scored a memorable victory over Dublin in the Leinster U-20 Championship. Not knowing the full ins and outs of things, probably best not to say too much. But defenestrating a manager midseason suggests problems may run deeper than meets the eye. And still, the Dublin result suggests better days might be ahead. You might say, understandably, it’s only one result. You’d be surprised, though, how much one win can do for things.
There’s been much fanfare, deservedly, about the quality of fare in the race for the Liam Mac Carthy Cup for the last couple of summers. A few lopsided encounters in Munster might have doused water on the hysteria somewhat, but where Davy Fitz is about diesel for the flames is never far away!
When Eddie Brennan was a pundit on The Sunday Game I used to love his insightful contributions. From a long way out it was a fair bet that he would end up in county management. Inclinations about his probable alacrity therein would thus far seem fairly well-founded judging by the strides made by Laois under his guidance