For as long as my kitchen/office has been in situ, a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’ has adorned the wall behind where the computer of the day tends to be stationed. At various, often random times, different segments thereof will leap forward in terms of relevance. Tonight, it is undoubtedly the line atop this offering. Now read on…
There are several unwritten certainties about October. Jump racing returns to Fairyhouse, Manchester United will play Liverpool at Old Trafford and yours truly will be afflicted with a rotten dose of the flu. More often than not, the crunch encounters in the Meath adult GAA Championships – across all codes – are on the menu too.
On more than one occasion, this corner was far too ill to go to school for the week but had perked up just enough to make it to Pairc Tailteann by the Sunday. Ironically, the occasion for which I was most ill is the one about which least is recalled. Aside from the fact that Dunderry won and that the lead up to game was overshadowed by the tragic death of Matthew Cunningham of Kilmainhamwood only days before the match.
Wheels transporting this writer were at every Keegan Cup decider between 1992 and 2011. Attendance at the showpiece football match in the county ever since has only been flitting. Other than 2018 when St Peter’s, Dunboyne emerged victorious for the third time, the only other SFC Final observed in person was 2013.
However, one was in situ in 2014 when our second team qualified for the JFC Final. By the end of the two epic encounters it took to separate the sides, Dunboyne knew exactly why it is said Cortown will be hard bet! What nobody could’ve foreseen was the two epic encounters it would take to separate the sides. Sadly from my viewpoint, the replay was the first adult championship final involving Dunboyne missed since I began attending GAA matches in 1990.
It must be something about our second team. Because yet again, over the Bank Holiday weekend currently winding down, the 2014 scenario cropped up all over again. Except this time it was even worse as not only did I miss the Premier Div. 1 Championship final against Dunshaughlin, it was the undercard to the SFC semi final between our lads and Donaghmore/Ashbourne.
Now, at this point it will have to be conceded that I didn’t see any of the second team’s matches this season. Which in itself would leave one open to accusations of bandwagon-ism if one had made it to the decider. However, not only is it indisputable that the only reason these wheels were not in attendance were circumstances beyond my control, but also, as my literary idol and Ireland’s greatest man of letters Con Houlihan proved in his last years, if you have a basic knowledge on an event or area of interest and are able to keep up with happenings therein there should be no reason you cannot write on same.
Though I didn’t make any of the matches, most if not all of the lads were well known to me. Primarily as the nucleus of the team were involved when Dunboyne won the U-21 FC in 2018. Any of those who weren’t part of the second adult team – which also won the JFC during that emotional mess of a year – back then have graduated since. It’s often said that a good start is half the battle but too many times the one seeing eye has observed our teams construct early cushions only to see them decommissioned before it really mattered.
Thus, even though goals from Darragh Nolan and Luke Harte contributed to the establishment of an eight point lead for the eventual winners after eight minutes, experience taught this observer – often the hard way – that it wasn’t a time for entertaining inclinations the job was done. Especially against the neighbours. Sure enough, they did work their way back into the contest, with former county minor Aaron Murphy proving quite the handful for the black and amber rearguard.
The two ‘majors’ still left the leaders in a comfortable enough position at the break and though their typically gritty opponents actually narrowed the deficit to the minimum before the productive Paddy Conway capped an outstanding personal display and the silverware when raising the third green flag. Needed as it was to ensure we hung on (3-10 to 2-10) after another pulsating joust.
And so, we arrive at Mr Kipling – no, no the exceedingly good cakes. St Peter’s Dunboyne find themselves with one adult title in the bag and possibilities of at least three more joining that one. It would be unnatural if the mind didn’t begin to dream a little. Collectively, though, it’s what must be avoided at all costs. That is not to for one second doubt the ability or talent of our teams Or any sense of fear either. We have already made history this season.
In defeating Dunshaughlin/Royal Gaels in their semi final on Sunday, qualifying for their third consecutive Ladies SFC Final, the defending queenpins have ensured that when the Ladies and Gents SFC deciders are staged on the same ‘card’ our club will be represented in both. These are the days you dream of.
Therefore, caution on my part is in no way founded on uncertainty. Rather, a sternly acquired realisation that any team which ends up in a final is there on merit and demanding and deserving of their opponents’ utmost dedication and respect. Instead of letting dreams be the master, far wiser is it to heed Al Paccino’s words (Inches) and hum along to the lyrics immortalised by Gloria – One Day At A Time Not the worst problems to have heading for November.