On the three occasions St Peter’s, Dunboyne won Meath Senior Football Champions, in 1998, 2005 and 2018, the greatest regret thereafter was the sense that, on all three occasions, the groups failed to achieve what they might have done given the quality of players on the panels.
Why exactly that is has been the subject of enough conspiracy theories to give Jessie Ventura sufficient material to produce another series. For my two cents, I think it came down to what was on average a very young group of players who knew how to win but not how to be winners.
That needs explaining from a few different angles. One in terms of how to carry themselves as champions. Yet again, thoughts are directed to the Dublin football team. Over the Christmas, somebody advised me of footage doing the rounds from within the victorious dressing room when this remarkable bunch of men had captured Sam Maguire for a sixth winter in a row.
There are the chaotic scenes of joy and relief you’d expect. But, like everything else they do, this was different. In that their mannerisms and actions roared of the fact that six in a row – eight in total for a storied group of them – was already added to the voluminous back catalogue. No, not in a ‘We don’t give a sh##’ way. More our of an acceptance that the tome of brilliance may still have more chapters to be affixed to it.
No doubt, you are wondering – particularly if you’re not from Ireland – where this is going, but please stay with me here. The greatest champions always have a certain grace and humility about them – Katie Taylor, Jurgen Klopp, Sean Boylan, Arsene Wenger, Lewis Hamilton, the list could go on.
Unfortunately, there would be great hesitation to include the name of newly crowned World Darts Champion Gerwyn Price on any such list. Not because his darting ability wouldn’t merit inclusion thereon – it absolutely would. However, the former rugby player knows as much about decorum as a bull in a china shop.
What’s beyond dispute, though, and has been for some time is that, presently, Price is the best player on planet darts. Manifestation of such abilities can assume many forms. The newly crowned kingpin needed such qualities right from the off as he was given a stern examination by his compatriot Jamie Lewis at the first hurdle.
Fermanagh’s Brendan Dolan continued his highly commendable return to form and performed “As well as I’ve ever seen him play” acknowledged the Welshman. Mind you, similar comments could justifiably be applied to Price himself. Most especially in the Final against Gary Anderson. When his first dozen darts at double – all tops as it happens – all hit the spot. Thus allowing him to, somewhat unbelievably, open a 6-1 cushion.
To be fair to the vanquished former champion – who had been hampered by back and knee ailments throughout the year – showed the character and determination of an accomplished former winner when battling back to 3-6 and being a converted D6 away from tightening the chasm even further.
Mind you, the victorious Price showed admirable composure and nous having missed 11 match darts before closing out the deal and become the first from the land of the Dragon to claim the Sid Waddell Trophy,