On a particularly warm Saturday in April 2015, around midday, Meath defeated Offaly in a Leinster Minor Football League game in a practically deserted Pairc Tailteann. There were two Dunboyne clubmen in green and gold that day – David McEntee and Conor Keeley. The latter marking his first – and sadly only – outing in a Tayto Park jersey – as it was then – by accounting for 1-7 of the host’s total.
His mere presence on the field was a victory in itself. For myself and a few of us who had cajoled, coaxed, persuaded and all but begged the languid youngster to give Gaelic football one more go at that time – even if it was only with the club. The previous winter, he’d given an exhibition of what he could do when playing a pivotal role in Dunboyne’s county MFC win.
Sadly for us dreamers, it will forever be a case of what might have been. He’d already been on trial with Leicester City at that stage so the die was cast. Since then, the talented central defender has performed with aplomb at a number of League Of Ireland clubs including Shelbourne and, latterly, Cabinteely United. On top of that, he has Captained his country at Universities level.
Keeley (23), whose dad Brendan dueled with Dave Henderson for the Bohemians No. 1 jersey back in the day and played the Irish League up north also, followed in his father’s footsteps this week when signing up for his first venture into action up at the top of the country with Ballymena United.
However, not only will he not have the headlines all to himself from a Dunboyne perspective, he’ll have to share them within his own house after, days later, younger brother Josh (18) signed his first professional contract with St Patrick’s Athletic having been on the bench with their first team for the last game of LOI season.
The equally tall youngster is a graduate of renowned underage production academy Belvedere FC. The same haunt from whence another local soccer star, Darragh Lenihan, emerged. Like his older brother, the younger sibling has been around a few clubs before settling with the Richmond Park outfit.
In so doing, the NUI Maynooth student maintains the proud and long standing link between Dunboyne and the Inchicore club. Encompassing former strikers John Ryan and Martin Reilly and current Club President Tom O’Mahony.
Another Dunboyne youngster, Tommy Lonergan is also on the red and white books, as is Ian Byrne whose bloodlines are Black and Amber though domiciled in Trim. Meaning that these wheels are very much looking forward to being part of the Richmond Roar once again as soon as Covid-sponsored captivity is consigned to history.