Huge crowds travelled to Dublin on Sunday to support our lads in the final. There was an air of excitement in East Meath for the 3 weeks in the run into the match. Supporters were busy ensuring they had their gear, their hats, their tickets and their transport to Headquarters for the big day. Saturday night in the East Meath area had a level of tension and excitement, equated only to Christmas eve in some houses. Children (and their parents) waited in line in the club house on Sunday morning to get decorated with blue warpaint before the match. Edel Flynn organised 2 buses, then it was 3 and eventually 4 buses full of Cilles supporters left Piltown on Sunday afternoon. Every second car on the M1 had a Cilles bobble hat sitting in it, or the car flags out the window!
The game started slightly later than scheduled, after the Junior opener went to what seemed like a never ending period of injury time, allowing Glenbeigh to take the cup in the end. We scored the first point in the match, but after two wides, Westport took control and stormed to a 0-8 to 0-1 lead over us. Biggy put us back in the game again with one of his trademark runs, before passing the ball into Banty who stuck it where it needed to go. However, the Mayo side, took the initiative again almost immediately and bagged themselves a goal of their own.
The tension in the stand was palpable – what was happening? We weren’t used to going this far behind and not catching up. Half time score 1-9 to 1-3. The HT break gave us a break from the tension and allowed us to collect ourselves. Afterwards according to Colm, the dressing room didn’t have any shouting or roaring, just a plea for the lads to do their best and absolutely did they deliver in the second half.
They came out and they “left nothing behind”. Biggy was exceptional, talent like that its to be appreciated anywhere in the country and aren’t we lucky that Meath have him. Ben scored a goal to put us back in the game, and then the penalty decision finally came!!!!!!! for a clear trip on the warrior Robbie. The penalty was coolly dispatched by Jack and then we scored again, and again until we were just one point behind. Our last attempt hit the cross bar and when the whistle blew, we weren’t ready for the game to be over. We had more in us, we have followed this team and seen them storm through the end of the game and win by a point, in a marvellous fashion, so when that final whistle shrilled, we looked around and thought, NO WAIT, it cant be over?
Our boys walked around the field, gutted, many came over to the stand to greet family and friends and supporters, before banding together like brothers, to watch Westport lift the trophy. We applauded and shouted and cheered when they left the field, not only for Sundays performance, but for the happiness and excitement we felt in the weeks running up to the match, for the pride we felt at the end of October, end of November, end of January, and for the sense of belonging that we all feel as part of our wonderful club, and to the lads for helping make that all happen. To the entire playing squad of 38, to Colm and the background team, we are entirely grateful for what has been a truly fantastic exhilarating rollercoaster ride. Their guts, determination, character, skill, professionalism (epitomised by club legend Niall Ronan returning to the fold for the last time, with a bandaged head; that later needed 10stiches) has brought the club into national attention and we are all the better for it!
Our club has an extremely bright future. It brought the community together in a way that hasn’t been seen in decades. We thank this group of men from the bottom of our hearts and wish them the very best of luck in the Senior Championship this year. You can all come out and support them on Sunday 26th Feb in Piltown in their first game against St Michaels at 2:30pm.