Sunday 28 May 2017

Where are they now?

DONAL CURTIS

(Former Meath footballer)

HE may be heading for 39 but Donal Curtis has no intention of hanging up his boots. The two-time All-Ireland winner is still playing football with his club Rathkenny and hurling with neighbours Wolfe Tones.

Curtis is head greenkeeper at Navan Golf Club and credits his active lifestyle for the longevity of his career. Rathkenny won the intermediate county title in 2006 and have competed in the senior championship since then.

Curtis had a long inter-county career too and a successful one at that. He joined the Meath panel in 1995 and went on to win two All-Ireland titles in 1996 and 1999 under Seán Boylan's stewardship.

"Winning an All-Ireland is something that footballers and hurlers dream of growing up. Both teams were special but 1999 was extra significant. My brother lost his wife that year so it was a very tough time. Winning and meeting up with the family after was a very special occasion."

The wing-back played for almost a decade, was nominated for an All Star and played Railway Cup for Leinster. In 2004, he retired from inter-county football but admits it wasn't an easy decision to make.

"I wanted to finish my career playing a good bit of club football," explains Curtis. "I was after spending the previous year or two as a sub on and off the (Meath) team. I didn't want to hang around and end up falling out with Seán Boylan so I just made that decision. Seán had said to me at the start of the year that he couldn't guarantee anything for me so I just went playing with the club and training them which I really enjoyed."

In 2008, Curtis joined the Meath backroom team as a selector with manager Eamonn O'Brien and spent two years with them. Although he'd only left the senior set-up four years previously, he was still surprised by how intense training and preparation had become in the intervening period.

"I couldn't believe the difference from when I gave up playing to when I went back as a selector. The commitment is massive, if the lads are not training with Meath they are training in the gym on their own. They are constantly watching themselves when it comes to diet and lifestyle. But at the end of the day it's a privilege to represent your county."

He is married to Ann-Marie and they have three sons David, Joey and Bobby.

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