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Royal return working out for Robinson


Ger Robinson had a taste of life as a professional footballer. Photo: John Quirke Photography

Ger Robinson had a taste of life as a professional footballer. Photo: John Quirke Photography

Ger Robinson had a taste of life as a professional footballer. Photo: John Quirke Photography

More than 20 years on, Ger Robinson can still feel the frustration. It's 1998 and he's on his way to the airport, but his mind is taken by the white noise that intermittently interrupts LMFM's commentary on the Meath senior football final.

His club Dunboyne are looking to win a first senior title, but the closer they get to the airport, the less they hear. Whether his side is winning is pure guesswork.

The 16-year-old Robinson is on his way back to Middlesbrough where he is an apprentice. Dunboyne would win that final, breaking through their glass ceiling and sending him back across the Irish Sea in good spirits. Perhaps even then, a part of him knew he'd eventually be drawn back home, to club and people and place.

Tomorrow, he'll patrol the sidelines in Parnell Park as his Meath U20 side look to take down Dublin in a Leinster semi-final, but he's lived at least two sporting lives to get to this point.

As a teenager, he was a hot prospect in soccer, good enough for Middlesbrough to sign him as a 14-year-old, a full two years before he moved cross channel.

Every so often they'd be pitched into first team training. Boksic was outstanding. Juninho unbelievable. Gascoigne was past his best but could still play.

"Gazza he has had his issues, but he had a heart of gold. You'd see how he was around the training ground, really good to the younger lads, no airs or graces, just completely normal."

If the world of professional soccer could be rough, it could be kind too. He met Kevin Moran with a view to getting an agent. Moran could have signed him and taken a cut of his wages. Instead, he told him that he didn't need representation at that point but that his phone was always on.

Still, the business side of it waited for no one. Heading into the final year of his deal, Robinson knew he wasn't going to play in the Premier League.

At that stage, he was at a crossroads. He'd had a taste of the lower leagues during a loan stint at Scarborough and wasn't sure if he fancied it. And then fate intervened to make up his mind for him.

"ITV digital pumped a load of money in. Then it collapsed and teams were on their arse. There were lads getting offered week-to-week contracts at the time."

There was more stability at home in the League of Ireland. He joined Dundalk on loan to see out his Middlesbrough deal. It was the end of a dream.

"When I finished with Middlesbrough, I remember thinking it was a great four years but it's done now. I wanted to take the positives from it, I was lucky to get the chance to do it."

Almost as soon as he came back, he started playing football again. He bounced around the League of Ireland but by 2005 he was back with Dunboyne, helping them win their second senior title. A run with Meath for a couple of seasons followed.

Over the last few years, his coaching career has flourished. In 2018, he was a selector as Dunboyne won their third Meath crown while he also managed the club to the county junior and U21 titles. There were also stints coaching Meath underage and junior teams. Things are, he says, slowly turning for the county. And he's hopeful tomorrow will be another sign of that.

There are no regrets, just an appreciation of what has been and what is yet to come.