An inspirational appointment for several reasons

One Monday night long ago, I rolled into Brady’s for what at the time were the regular few pints. In a scenario that was very typically me, the first night of the week was always my favourite. Purely because there tended to be very few about which meant the staff and auld Sean – God be good to him – had plenty of time to chat.

This particular night, immediately after getting in the door, a friend and his wife were encountered. Both looking severely emotionally shaken. A friend of theirs – and mine – whose daughter’s wedding they’d been at only two day’s earlier – died very suddenly. At some stage during the night, the husband said to me “I’ll never let myself get as close to anybody ever again”.

On too many occasions over the last decade or so, I knew exactly what he meant. The thing is, even though there have been numerous bereavements which rattled me emotionally to the core. The thing is though, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a death to leave you emotionally reeling if something happens to somebody that is cared for very deeply.

November 2006, Croke Park, International Rules Series. The tourists hadn’t forgotten. Graham Geraghty had been singled out for ‘special treatment’ during the first Test in Pearse Stadium, Salthill, a week earlier. But this had just gone from robust tackling to dangerous, targeted violence.

Sean Boylan declared it “Bullshit” on national television. I’ve known Sean all my life and had never heard him use an expleetive, never mind on the television. At the time, up in the dreary and desolate wheelchair viewing area in the old ground, I was just numb. Staring at the centre of the field. Very quickly realising that Graham wasn’t moving. Then came the neck brace and suddenly cold sweat began to spew out of me.

Sean during his time as Ireland Manager

Knowing how close I am blessed and honoured to be to Graham and his wife Amanda, Paul Garvey, who was driving me that day, went off to try and locate Eamonn Barry who was at that time generally always the Garda on duty in the disabled viewing area.

Eventually word came back from the dressing room that while he was in a bad way at the time he was going to be OK. I’d never experienced fear like that before and didn’t again until the days after the most recent October Bank Holiday weekend. Phone calls late at night or early in the morning are never good news. Thus, having Eoghan Lynch ring me at 8.30 in the morning was never going to be a good thing.

However, nothing or nobody could have readied me for the bombshell ‘The Crow’ did impart. Namely, that Graham Geraghty was critically ill in a Dublin hospital and – at that stage – fighting for his life. Later that day, I posted a piece here conveying my dismay and disbelief at the words that had to be written. As much I was cut up and scared by the news myself and the possibilities it may lead to (By now the hamster on the wheel inside my head was doing overtime), my greatest upset and concern then was for Amanda and their four kids.

At this time, I wish to place on record my sincere and unending thanks to Amanda for keeping in regular contact since himself fell ill over two months ago. Some friendships really do run deeper than anything that ever happens on a football field and for that I will be eternally grateful. Most especially at a time like this.

Each time I’ve been in touch with Mrs Geraghty or written about the predicament which befell her husband, the same conclusion has been employed “Keep tapping over the points and the goals will come”. One of said targets would surely have been for the All Ireland winning Captain to get well enough to get out to a match again.

IN WITH FLYNN

On the evening Graham was discharged from hospital, former Meath forward Bernard Flynn said on Twitter that he had spoken to his former team mate and that was in great form. It appears, though, there may have been slightly more to the phone call than the passing on of well wishes during the conversation.

Somewhat sensationally given recent circumstances, Graham is set to be part of Bernard Flynn’s management team when the former St Colmcille’s, St Joseph’s (Laois) and Mullingar Shamrocks player takes up the role of Meath U-20 football manager. The former corner forward – who picks up the reins from Ger Robinson of St Peter’s Dunboyne – has assembled an impressive looking lineup of lieutenants comprising Graham Geraghty, Graham Reilly, former Mayo ladies manager Peter Leahy and former Dunboyne player and manager and current Kilmacud Crokes boss Robbie Brennan while accomplished former GAA and Soccer goalkeeper Shane Supple is also on board.

New Meath U-20 football Manager Bernard Flynn in action in 1988

Presuming Graham Geraghty is well enough to lend his invaluable experience to the intended group, what a boon it will be to any young players who are selected to be part of the panel for the forthcoming championship to have two such greats of our county guiding their destiny. Being cognisant of what Graham has been through already, the fact that the commencement of the U-20 Championship has been deferred can only be to his and the team’s benefit.

Graham Geraghty is back involved with a Meath team

To many of us, it is not before time that the former Seneschalstown and Clann Na nGael star was invited to become involved with the management of one of the county teams. Technically, of course, he already has been involved with the senior team in a managerial capacity briefly previously when he served as Player/Selector with Seamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney.

Outside of our county teams, Graham has also served as part of the Longford backroom operation during Glenn Ryan’s time in charge of the midlands county. He has also coached the Blanchardstown I.T. Sigerson Cup team as well as the Na Fianna, Duleek/Bellewstown and Clann Na nGael club teams in Meath.

Graham Reilly needs no introduction, but, it must come as a surprise to see the St Colmcille’s clubman to see him enter into county management so soon after departing the scene as a player. That said, gut feeling is that he must have some of his coaching badges – or whatever the GAA equivalent thereof are – as he has run what appear to be very successful coaching camps he runs through the St Colmcille’s club during school holidays. Furthermore, the fact that ‘Biggy’ is a recent player, should chime well among the young lads with whom he’ll be working.

The inclusion of Robbie Brennan will undoubtedly come as a surprise to many – it was to me and I know the man 21 years. He will bring a wealth of coaching experience to his role having been involved with Kilmacud Crokes for the past few years where they garnered a couple of Dublin Senior Football Championship titles.

Robbie Brennan

Including in 2018 when Crokes ended up playing St Peter’s Dunboyne for the third time. The irony, of course, is that Brennan – whose father Pat won championship medals with Wolfe Tones of Kilberry – played with Dunboyne, winning a Keegan Cup medal in 2005 alongside his brothers-in-law Denis and David Gallagher. He then went on to manage to black and ambers and, more recently, has re-commenced his connection with the club taking over the club’s U14 team on which will be his son Tadhg and nephew Charlie Gallagher.

All of those involved bring a wide and varied wealth of experience and knowledge to their roles and a mix of expertise which should ensure that what promises to be a very talented group of players will have a bases covered for their forthcoming campaign.

Now all we need is for the games to go ahead.

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