One night what’s a long time ago now, in Brady’s of Dunboyne, which sadly is more a memory for me than the mainstay it blessedly once was, the diesel tank in this seat was a little too full. At the time, Sean Boylan’s position as Meath senior football manager was up for ratification. For so long a mere formality.
Around the time in question, though, Eamonn Barry had ran against the incumbent a few years in succession. The Walterstown native was, and is, one of the best coaches in the county. Between his business Gaelic Games Equipment and my affinity with so many of the Dunshaughlin players he turned into the best club team in the county for decades, there was the better part of a decade when we were in fairly regular contact.
Thus, between the jigs and reels, the former wing forward had intimated that if he ever did get the top job that there might be a role for yours truly in his backroom team. Now, I’d rather think it was a case of me being gullible as opposed to being treated like a fool, but, suffice to say, when the seal of office came the phone call never did.
Aside from that, if truth be told, there have been more disappointments in that regard closer to home than anywhere else. The “You’ll definitely have a role in my entourage” line, only for the occupant of this seat to suddenly become invisible once they got the reins on their neck.
Indeed, even worse than that, there was one individual who genuine did have me as part of his backroom setup, yet everytime they would speak to the players it was “We’ll keep it to the players” even though the masseur, the physio and a fair other load of hangers on entered the inner sanctim while I was left out in the hall.
The real infuriating thing was knowing full well that I’d forgotten more about football than some of what was in there ever knew. Similar could be attributed to at least three of Sean Boylan’s lieutenants when he was in charge of Meath.
The truth is, whether it happened to be a Dunboyne or Meath team, I would gladly take a role cleaning the toilets in the dressing room just to feel part of things. During my 11 years yours truly was on the Executive Committee in the club, yes one was a mentor with several teams, but the one working arm would have been gladly sacrificed to get in on a senior team ticket.
Those old hurts opened up again in recent days when it emerged Sean Boylan will have a role in Colm O’Rourke’s incoming management team. Incidentally, it would appear said group is still under construction, after what were some very high profile, ambitious, marquee names being linked with positions in Colm’s inner sanctum appear to have been wide of the mark, disappointingly.
At this point let it be stated categorically that upset in this corner has nothing to do with Sean being aboard. How could it be? His addition to any situation is like being given a horse in training with Noel Meade free of charge and being told Paul Carberry was coming out of retirement to ride it.
No, the slight tinge of sadness felt pertained to something else contained in Colm’s article where the revelation was made, something along the lines of ‘All offers of help will gladly be taken’. Yet, only too well is it known that, if a call was put in from this location offering assistance with statistics or video analysis or opposition analysis, not an eyelid would be batted.
Rant over. There is no end to what Sean Boylan could bring to the table in conjunction with the newly installed boss. As Colm said himself, “He can be advisor, counsellor or whatever else he wants to be”. Being in the privileged position of having Sean a part of my entire life, it can be attested first hand that it’s impossible to spend even five minutes in the man’s company and not feel move and inspired.
Now, it will be admitted that, for a brief period after Colm was appointed, the thought struck that some of the younger players with whom he will be working might not have been aware of his revered status as a player.
But then, if there were a few in that boat, the percentage of those who have been taught by him – either literally or in a football sense – would far outweigh them. Failing that, every Meath youngster will forever know of the deeds of Sean Boylan.
To paraphrase the greatest Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, in reference to Christy Ring, for as long as a ball is kicked in Meath, the story of Sean Boylan will be told. The thing is, Lord knows how many more chapters that wondrous tome have yet to be added to it.
Hopefully the latter comment can also be applied to the story of Meath football in general. Because no secret has ever been made of the fact that Dunboyne and Meath teams doing well means so much to me on levels far more important than the mere results of what transpires between the lines.
It is not being liberal with the truth to say it’s one of a handful of factors – the presence of the good lady in my life obviously superseding all others – which make life worth living. Whatever about the Dunboyne side of things, there is full conviction here that – building on the work of Andy McEntee and underage mentors in the last few few years – Colm and his assistants can lead the green and gold back to better days.
Whether I would have mentioned the (correct) importance of beating Dublin straight off the bat or not is another thing. There will be enough people lining up to take a dig at their efforts without leaving them a stick with which to start swinging. Regardless of who’s in charge, though, given Meath’s current status in the game, things won’t be turned from sow’s ear to a silk purse overnight.
Still all anyone can be is the best they can be. Whatever about how certain entities go about getting themselves to such a standpoint, players can hardly be blamed for wanting to better themselves if opportunities present themselves. Indeed, count has been lost the number of players who were only a stone’s throw away from the home front and not even an inquiry was made as to the availability of their services.
But sure, as has been learned the hard way, who pays attention to what the man behind the wire thinks?