Some of you might recall a post I had on my Facebook page towards the end of March last year, shortly before Nally’s SuperValu opened in Dunboyne. Prior to the supermarket commencing business, the Nally family – in a generous and very fitting gesture – unveiled a monument which reads “Tom’s Field” in tribute to a Dunboyne institution. Or perhaps two of them would describe it better.
The role which Tom Yourell played in my life should be very well known to many at this stage. No apology will be made for saying that in many ways Tom was the nearest this corner ever knew to a grandfather – certainly paternally. It wasn’t just me though. Tom contributed so much to the lives of generations of Dunboyne people.
Not just in terms of his dearly beloved and desperately missed field. Through his businesses as a shop keeper and butcher, also his standing as a font of wisdom for the entire community and his work as an administrator for St Peter’s GAA Club. Even though it was his brother the late Jim who was officially listed as secretary, it was widely known that Tom did most of the work!
When he passed away on my 24th birthday – April 23rd 2005 – his sister Mary, God rest her, invited me up to their home. At which point she presented me with a couple of items of incalculable sentimental value. The replica of the Feis Cup which the club presented to him after they had won the competition in 1958.
What made it even more treasured from a personal perspective was that, also engraved on the miniature were the names of all those who played in the victory over St Vincent’s and, more pointedly, the club committee of the day, which included my late uncle Jimmy.
That evening, Mary also gave me an old black ledger containing pages and pages of Tom’s unique and beautiful handwriting. While it should be no surprise that much of the material therein pertained to GAA Club activities, it was an eye-opener for me to discover that he was also involved with an incarnation of a Dunboyne Boxing Club nigh on 70 years ago now. As an aside, it was also interesting to note that my late grand uncle, Joe Geoghegan, boxed over here regularly in those years.
Wasn’t it only fitting, then, that there has always been been a very strong link between Gaelic games and pugilism in the locality. My own earliest memories of organised boxing date back to when the club were based in or adjacent to a business premises out the Summerhill road. Even at that stage, mind you, I was aware that people like Kevin Poleon, his son Shane, Eamonn Gilligan and David Curtis were deeply invested in the club.
Once I became more heavily involved in the GAA myself there was more cognisance of the goings-on within the boxing world, locally at least, as they used to train on the same nights as our adult footballers – in the upstairs part of what could now be termed the ‘original’ clubhouse at Rooske.
It was always known that the club seemed to enjoy a considerable amount of success. Being honest however, the extent of my knowledge thereof wouldn’t extend beyond some of the achievements of Shane Poleon and Eamonn J. Gilligan. Albeit nowhere near enough about same either.
However, when the re-development of the GAA facilities was ongoing some years ago, it was poignantly fitting that Dunboyne Boxing Club found themselves a home, for a while at least, in what, to some of us, will forever be Coogan’s shop adjacent to the old football field. Which was actually owned by Tom. Not only because it was great – and very emotional for myself personally – to see any sporting activity around the place again, but especially one with which the man himself was so very closely linked.
And it appears this great club continues to grow and prosper. In all likelihood it will continue to do so for generations to come. As best evidenced by representatives of the club recently travelling overseas and garnering multiple successes in Sweden.
The Katie Taylor effect
It may be stating the blindingly obvious, but, the extraordinary achievements of Katie Taylor inside the ropes has led to a huge upsurge in interest in Ladies boxing. In that, the Dunboyne club are no different. But, while that might seem like something of an inevitability, the achievement in bringing home a splendid seven medals from Scandinavia.
The ‘Golden Girls’ were Ruby Hynes, Tegan Farrelly and Ella Thompson, while those attaining silver stardom were Shauna Crehan and Clodagh Caldwell and Tori Dillon and Chloe Poleon. Their achievements most recently capped what has been a bountiful period for the club. With talented performers like these young ladies in their ranks, it’s a success story that would appear sure to have many more chapters still to be written into it.