Sunday 19 November 2017

'There will always be days like this'

THE furtive, flirty promises of February maturing into a deep and meaningful relationship with a March spring showed fitfully on the M3. Dogged daffodils showed their heads at the margins of the motorway and freshly erected hoarding indicated that properties and jingoistic property dealers were once again on the market.

A mere 40-minute jaunt from Swords lies the grounds of Trim GAA. The magnificently appointed clubhouse is bedecked with photographs of club teams and county teams of yore and one Kevin Foley glowers defiantly from one such moment captured in time.

It is arguable whether Kevin Foley has ever smiled in his life. Even his defining goal minutes from the end in the fourth leg of the Dublin v Meath saga of 1991 barely brought a flicker of satisfaction to his visage as he scurried back to his natural habitat in the half back line.

Kevin Foley was quickly inducted into the Hall of Infamy place in Dublin GAA, but Dublin supporters' sense of disappointment was deepened by the lack of any perceived wrongdoing by any Meath player in the build-up to the goal. In truth it was a heroic, wonderful move, executed by an unlikely villain.

The year 1991 was defined by the last-minute intervention, but the 200 or so supporters didn't have to wait until the end to witness the denouement. Any latecomers would have missed the opening ambush and salvo where the Royals were five points to the good within the first four minutes.

Nippy corner forwards, tall rangy half forwards, well oiled engines at centre field and a dour, uncompromising defence halted and haunted Fingal efforts. A lop-sided first half ended with Meath well in front.

During the interval the burgeoning relationship between the weather and spring came to an abrupt end and drizzly rain duly imposed itself on the pitch. The climate change did little to change the fortunes of Fingal and after a further 35 difficult minutes the scoreboard indicated the final score of 5-22 to 1-7 amid the murky gloom.

Meath, predominantly a football county, have aspirations of climbing the ranks of the hurling elite. A good, competitive club structure, a tightly knit hurling community and an open attitude to dual players are the rungs to achieving this goal.

Fingal, operating inside a predominantly football enclave and bedevilled with illness and injury, were not good enough on the day. Progress is palpable. There will always be days like this.

The team bus hooted for stragglers. There was just about time for a sneak glance at the photograph in the main foyer. Was that a hint of a smile breaking out on Kevin Foley's face?

Fingal Independent

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