If you’re involved in GAA – or most likely any sport – it’s a fairly safe wager that you’ll experience more defeat than victory. In both 1997 and 2002, the number of finals Dunboyne teams lost hit double figures.
Undoubtedly the most painful loss of the lot, however, was actually in the Junior Hurling Championship against Ratoath in 1999. An early brace of goals from Sean Moran seemed to have us well on our way. Until the most remarkable turn around seen in a match up to that point.
If memory serves me correctly, Ratoath fielded two adult teams at the time. One hurling, one football. Both of which operated at Junior level. I cannot recall at what point the blue and gold began their ascent in hurling. But, that our near neighbours contested Senior hurling and football finals on consecutive weekends is quite astounding.
Not to mention that they had achieved same a couple of years previously. While not in a position to comment on the hurling side of things, just consider that a decade ago those based in Sean Eiffe Park were still operating in the Junior Football Championship.
Today, under the guidance of former Mayo midfielder David Brady, Ratoath lifted the Keegan Cup for the third time in four seasons. Indeed were it not for an injury to Conor McGill last year, they could very easily now be celebrating four in a row.
Jealous would be too strong a word, and grossly unfair, but there’s no problem in this seat admitting to being extremely envious of the success in which the parish over the road is now basking again.
Sometimes, though, all you can do is acknowledge and admire sporting superiority when you see it. That there is a chasm between the best and the rest is nobody’s fault.
Perhaps, however, the gulf isn’t quite as drastic as may have been thought. With Summerhill having got closer to the eventual winners than many have in a good while.
Not all that long ago on yhese pages, a pondering was engaged upon regardlng what serially successful clubs – you know who is being referenced, no need to harrow up the list again – have that the also-rans and under achievers do not.
Ratoath have now crossed the rubicon and are worthy of placement in a more elevated echelon of Meath teams. Domestically at least, they are the best the county has witnessed since Eamonn Barry’s Dunshaughlin side.
To mount the same plinth as the black and ambers would be to see Brady’s bunch go on and mirror Barry’s battalion’s exploits in the Leinster Club Championship. There’s no reason why that shouldn’t be doable either.
Incidentally, at this time, it would be remiss of me not to doff the cap to a fine and valiant Summerhill side who again bore defeat as their lot for at least the fourth time in the last decade.
So what is it that gives Ratoath the edge? The simplistic answer would be to peruse their admittedly star studded and/or highly experienced team sheet.
Ben Wyer, Conor McGill, Daithi McGowan, Eamon Wallace, Gavin McGowan, Bobby O’Brien, Cian O’Brien, Cian Rogers, Jack Flynn, Joey Wallace and Bryan McMahon have all represented the county with distinction in recent years.
That’s without even mentioning All Ireland Minor winners Liam Kelly and Mossie Corbett on their bench. It goes deeper than that though. Similar comments of course apply to Summerhill or indeed any team which manages to maintain success rates.
It’s about linking with schools and inculcating a winning ethos and culture from the word go. Getting players used to winning from day one. That comes with serious groundwork from the time juvenile players begin their career.
For all that, at the highest level – whether club or county – a huge part of being successful is knowing how to win. This corner wouldn’t even hazard a guess at the number of teams Ratoath field now, but what is known is that always seem to contend, no matter the age group or grade.
With this most recent triumph, it certainly boiled down to knowhow. Specifically, Eamon Wallace grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck and slotting the three scores which ensured they would be hosting Tom Keegan for Christmas dinner again.
Mention was made here in a previous post about how the demographics of an area can impact on the sporting fortunes of that locality. It certainly has been the case in Ratoath and for me at least undoubtedly played a part in Dunshaughlin’s immediate return to the top table of Meath football.
In Conor Gray, John McDonagh, Ruairi Kinsella, Mathew Costello, Luke Mitchell (pictured) and Adam Kealy they possess some of the finest young talent in the county.
At the beginning of the season a post appeared in this space entitled Kealy comes home as Dunshaughlin bid to bounce back. That, they duly have. And while it was probably nowhere near as routine as they made it look, inclination is to think they will be well equipped to at the very least hold their own.
Spare a thought for Dunsany GFC. Personally, my heart went out to the many people in that most admirable of clubs who have gone above and beyond to accommodate and assist yours truly over the years. Too many to mention but each one wholly appreciated.
On Saturday last, they lost out in the JFC Final and I wouldn’t even like to hazard a guess as to how many times that has happened to them. Yet I cannot but admire them.
I honestly don’t know how they keep coming back. Even if your columnist was at full fitness, it’s not known how many knock backs could be shipped before the will to go again simply wouldn’t be there.
But back they will be. You can be sure of it. Bang on the door for long enough and it’ll either open or fall down. The above anaolgy might seem a strange one to apply to St Peter’s, Dunboyne – especially in the context of our lady footballers – but please stay with me here.
Johnny Cash was right about Sundays. For there’s something in a Sunday, that makes a body feel alone. Now, there was a time that was relatable in a totally different way. However, being at home for the latter stages of the local club championship – especially when inclination is your brethren should be completely immersed therein – is equally upsetting.
No doubt you are questioning the inclusion of the latter point given that our magnificent lady footballers have brought our club and by extension our village on an unforgettable odyssey for the better part of the last decade.
And as was admitted in a previous offering, I was undoubtedly guilty of not bigging it up enough for a long time as being the magnificent achievement it has been and with the grace of whoever pulls the levers up top will continue to be for a while yet.
Sadness felt as our ladies’ defence of their Leinster Club title capsized at the first hurdle was mostly due to the identity of those who ended our journey. Not that this writer has the slightest problem with our conquerers Kilmacud Crokes.
Sure how could I? Not only was that great Kilmacud clubman John Lonergan encountered many years ago, but there’s also the fact that there’s a very close personal connection with the Stillorgan club.
With Dunboyne’s Robbie Brennan having guided his former club to back to back Dublin SFC titles and been involved with at least four more. No, misgivings about facing the purple and gold were two fold.
Firstly because out of the five times Dunboyne teams have been involved in Leinster Club Championship action, on four occasions our run has been unceremoniously halted by Crokes.
Secondly, though, out of sheer envy. I won’t use the J word. Imagine, two county championships back to back and a run deep into All Ireland Club Championships. So far the same as our ladies of late, yes.
But now consider that it which is considered to be the biggest club in the country are also on the cusp of doing back to back football/hurling doubles – as well as their Ladies success in which they dethroned the mighty Foxrock/Cabinteely – and it amounts to the sort of dominance which certain clubs very close to home should at least be aiming for.
Already, the chirping has piped up over the addition of Shane Walsh’s transfer to the Dublin giants. Of course the Galway man has been a huge addition to them, but any whining about same is down to nothing other than jealous begrudgery.
For the player, if within the club’s catchment area and predominantly based in their ‘adopted’ county, who wouldn’t want to link up with one of the most successful clubs in the country?
From their perspective, why wouldn’t a club want to welcome one of the most mesmerically talented forwards in the game into their fold?
If certain other clubs had the brains and/or the balls to make contact with even some of the players from other counties living in their locality, they might be a lot better off. It comes down to a question of ambition.
Not that incoming additions are a necessity for success. Look no further than the great Dunshaughlin team of the early 2000s or, indeed, Ratoath at this time.
To reiterate once more, one can only applaud and admire those who put successful runs together – including our own ladies obviously – but, for me at least, when those held nearest and dearest are not in action where they should be, there’s something in a Sunday that makes a body feel cut off from that world altogether.
To the winners, enjoy it. It’s the best feeling in the world.