Local rivalries will be set aside on Sunday next when Sean O’Mahony’s go out to play Ballinlough in the Leinster Club IFC final at Drogheda.
The Quaysiders are, after all, representing their county, and as it so happens it’s a Meath team they’re jousting with, it’ll be more than curiosity that’ll have people there from all corners of this county. Okay, so they may not be roaring their heads off for the green-and-gold, but in their silence they’ll be willing them on.
This is the third year in succession and fourth in all in which a Louth side has made it to the final. Back in 2012, O’Connell’s, having won the county title and the Seamus Flood Cup that goes with it for the first time, came up with a number of fine performances to qualify for a meeting with Kildare’s Monasterevin in the final. However, on a miserable day at Drogheda, the Bellingham boys found they’d left the shooting boots behind them.
Three points is all that was after their name at the finish, but even at that they were beaten by the minimum. On a good day Mark Stanfield, or Niall Conlon, or Cian Doyle would score twice that; but this was an occasion when it just didn’t go right for the Louth champions.Geraldines did better 12 months later. It may have taken them two games to overcome the Dublin champions, St Olaf’s - who had Benny Gaughran’s son, Bernard, included - but the Eamon McEneaney-coached side showed lots of character, McEneaney’s injury-hit son, Jim, coming off the bench to score a dramatic equaliser the first day, and also making a contribution to the replay win at Parnell Park.
Dear reader(s), you are not hearing of Dundalk Gaels’ title win, in 2003, for the first time in this column. It probably would not have been mentioned so often in the past, and certainly not now, had it not been doused with cold water on a number of occasions.
See, the competition was in its inaugural year, and having beaten Arles-Killeen in the final, Gaels’ captain, Peter McGinnity, was presented with a trophy, not the one that’s presently being competed for. That’s the reason why the name of Dundalk Gaels does not appear on the base of the cup paraded around Haggardstown and Blackrock 12 months ago; but the victory is registered on the Leinster Council website.
Incredibly, when recently questioned on the issue, a prominent Co Board official of the time said the 2003 renewal of the competition was “only a tournament” - there was “no All-Ireland series.”
I’m sorry, my friend; a number of weeks after beating the Laois champions, Gaels played St Michael’s at Clontibret, and having won the game, the Donegal champions, with Colm McFadden and Christy Toye in the forward-line, went on to play Cork’s Ilen Rovers in the final, losing by 0-11 to 1-4. Let’s put this one to bed once and for all.
Gers met the same fate as Gaels when they contested the All-Ireland semi-final earlier this year, taking on Monaghan’s Truagh Gaels. A poor Gers first half was followed by a last-quarter comeback, but just when it seemed the Crossmaglen game might go to a replay, Truagh grabbed a late goal to put the result beyond doubt.
Truagh went on to win the All-Ireland title, emulating the feat of another Monaghan side, Inniskeen Grattans, who were successful in 2006.
There have been 11 All-Ireland finals, and, interestingly, none has been won by a Leinster side. In fact, just one team from the eastern province has contested the decider – Fingal Ravens in 2008.
That’s part of the All-Ireland story so far - Sunday will tell if Sean O’Mahony’s are to have a place in the next paragraph. Brendan Nordon’s men are as game as a pebble, and if they are to be beaten on it won’t because they didn’t chase every loose ball, or were weak in the challenge.