Proud Dub Ferguson has his own special chapter in the Book of Kells

By Niall Scully

DES Ferguson had a blue t-shirt on. Old habits die hard.

Living in Meath for over half a century, the St Vincent's and Dublin family are only ever a thought away.

"We are royal Dubs down here," he laughs. And even when son, Terry, won two All-Ireland titles with Sean Boylan's men, Des never changed colours.

"The banter would be fierce, but I think Meath people understood that once Dublin, always Dublin."

Des moved to Meath for work reasons. His wife, Maura, got a teaching job, "and I was working as a draughtsman.

"It's hard to believe now but back then that many homes had no running water. They'd have to carry buckets of water everywhere.

"When the electricity was coming in, I was involved in drawing up the plans for new bathrooms and kitchens on farms, arranging the grants and so forth.

"It was very enjoyable work. Very fulfilling. We were helping people. It was great to see the reward for your labours." Commitment to club and county often means all kinds of tests. And, for Des, none came taller than in the summer of 1963.

The genial footballing forward had retired. It was a Saturday evening when a car pulled into the drive. "I remember it was a Saturday because Maura was cooking a fry. It was always a tradition to have a fry on a Saturday," explained Des.

Out of the car got Kevin Heffernan. "What are you doing down here," asked Des. "I'm just came down for a spin," replied Kevin.

"Dublin had a game in the Leinster Football Championship the following day and we were chatting about that and things in general.

"Then, suddenly, he asked me would I play tomorrow! It was something I never had expected.


"Kevin was a great friend of mine. We were neighbours on the Howth Road. I couldn't say no. It was expected of Vincent's fellas that if you got the call, you answered."

Kevin enjoyed the rashers and sausages, and before he left he told Des "not to say a word to anyone."

"When Kevin was gone, I was thinking what had I let myself in for. I had to look for my boots and when I found them I had to buy a new pair of laces!

"I can't remember who we played in Croke Park the following afternoon, but I recall I paid in. Lucky enough, it went well. Even when I hit a bad kick, it turned into a good pass. It was one of those days when everything went well. I was just lucky."

Des and the Dubs went on to win Sam that season, but enough of the big ball he gestures.

"I thought we were here to talk about the hurling! I have high admiration for this Dublin team.

"Kilkenny were so determined the last day. Brian Cody is a great man.

"But I have a high regard for Anthony Daly too. When he was playing for Clare, he was a real leader, and he has done great things for Dublin hurling."

Des wanders out into the garden. He lives in a lovely spot beside the Headfort Golf Club in Kells.

Dublin is a few miles up the road. But it is always in his heart.

On the streets of Donnycarney and Marino, Des Feguson will always be Dublin Royalty.