New places, old faces and not at the races

Another weekend, another illustration of the sheer lunacy the split season in GAA. No, it is not being offered as an excuse for Dunboyne’s defeat on Sunday. We have nobody to blame for that but ourselves and Na Fianna were deserving winners.

But a system that sees club players – at all levels – idle for more of the year than they are engaged in is counterproductive at best. All that succeeds in doing is putting more scarcely needed dough in the admittedly wonderful Mr O’Leary’s pockets. It would be far better to hear more clamour about that than Tomas O’Se disappointingly bleating on about the supposed ills of the Advanced Mark.

Tomas had his chance to put his money where his mouth is, return to the coalface and effect real change, but no. And don’t give me dross about work commitments – you can work til the cows come home but opportunities to get involved in management at the highest level don’t come around too often.

Now, you’d think after 32 years of going to matches up and down the county and country, there wouldn’t be much that hasn’t been done or seen, yet Sunday’s outing against the Baconstown/Enfield combination was a historic one for yours truly.

It being a first ever excursion to Kilcloon. The splendidly refurbished facilities are a credit to the Blackhall Gaels club. To whom sincere thanks is extended for the welcome afforded to Susie and I. And, equally, to the many old friends, stalwarts of the host club like Robert Cox and Patsy and Jimmy Burke, whom it was great to connect with again after many years.

Action from sun-drenched Kilcloon

Moving on, with our lads having lost their opening two SFC fixtures, our interest in the race for the Keegan Cup has been extinguished for another season while our conquerors have the look of genuine contenders about them. While there could be no complaints about the result from our point of view, it was desperately disappointing in so many other ways.

Leading by 0-07 to 0-04 after 23 minutes, being outscored thereafter by seven points to one is neither acceptable or sustainable at this level. Yes, Donal Lenihan did work hard for a goal midway through the second half, but regrettably they were unable to build on it.

Shane Walsh has been outstanding in the Meath SFC so far

Personally speaking, the most disappointing aspect to it revolves around analysis of the bigger picture. Unless you are Kerry at county level or a club of the size and status of Kilmacud Crokes, a constant conveyor belt of talent coming through is never guaranteed.

Thus, if you are lucky enough to have a talented bunch come together at the same time, the longing and necessity to make hay while the sun shines should be all consuming. Winning one senior championship since we last took the county Minor title in 2014. That scarcely qualifies as making silage, never mind hay.

Hope was that our lads would have taken inspiration from our wonderful lady footballers over the last couple of years. Alas, the modern player is made of different stuff to those I grew up with and watching.

Those of us around long enough can remember the last time the backside fell out of things economically, but, players stuck around, our club prospered and Meath won All Irelands. It’s a different world now though.

Thankfully my life circumstances have changed to a point where as many matches as is desired can be attended.

And there are undoubtedly some great games at the business end of the Meath club championships to look forward to. Sadly from a local perspective all that lies ahead is a long winter.

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