Sunday 15th September 2019 will be remembered favourably in Piltown for the visit of Meath Boss Andy McEntee and ‘Cilles Old-Boy’ Colm Nally. The Meath Senior teams top brass gave up their time to train our Junior D’s in preparation for the big game which is fast approaching. Sean Perry’s analysis of the session is as close to libel as you can get but as that doesn’t exist in Irish law we’ve gone to print! Enjoy…
One Night in September
And so it came to pass…..After two years of unrelenting pressure, the sleek, ultra-professional outfit that are St Colmcille’s Junior D’s succumbed, permitting Meath inter-county manager, Andy McEntee visit their highly-secure training base and monitor an intense work-out. The Nobber native was even afforded the unique privilege of being allowed an input into some of the drills and can count himself among an elite group of one to have been given such access to a finely-tuned group of athletes. It was clear that even after his recent initiation at super-eight grade, McEntee was struggling with the enormity of the occasion. He leaned heavily on his right-hand man and “local boy done good”, Colm Nally for introductions and guidance. At one point when he spotted the McGill brothers (Mark, being a particularly rare sight at training), Enda Grogan (just 10 minutes late instead of the normal 15) and Caiman Hall in cahoots, he looked visibly rattled but pulled on his game face quickly. For the record, no Meath Chronicle journalists were harmed in the making of the session.
To give the Nobber man his due, he stood firm. He’ll definitely have spotted some players whom he’d like to see pull on the county jersey soon – for Meath’s next opponents rather than the Royals – and on a soft evening in Pilltown with the GAA drenched in the history made by Jim Gavin’s men less than 24 hours earlier, ‘Cilles D’s bounded around the open prairies of Piltown with all the co-ordination and finesse of ducks caught in thunder.
As the startled Nally tried nobly to emulate former British PM, John Major and his “Back to Basics” policy, it was clear that many of the lads hadn’t just forgotten how to solo, but were never able to in the first place. Catching, same thing. Grim. The shooting drill was real horror-show stuff, the coaches enthusiastically stuck to their guns in preaching positivity but it was a bit like trying to get the Club lotto jackpot to remain intact for more than six weeks, a hopeless cause.
Shot-after-shot missed the posts and in truth, many also missed the ball-stop behind the goal. Cilles’ honorary Dub, Ray Finlay sent a few O’Neills high into St Mary’s graveyard with a typically-subdued Jack Black glaring on. A lip-reader might well have interpreted one comment along the lines, “send back in the f’n ball Ray and stay in there, we’ll send flowers”. Handy to have a graveyard nearby when Hall and Grogan are doing their stuff on the field, keeps transport costs down and subsequently reduces the Cilles’ carbon footprint.
Thankfully, teacher’s pet John McKenna was on hand to raise a few white flags and prevent hypothermia from setting in for beleaguered gaffer, Neil “Cooks” Cooney whose recent performance at a Joe McNally Masters 7’s tournament surely put to bed any notion that there’s life in the auld dog yet.
And so to the final drill, the “game”. Shane Black, fresh from his recent ‘Love Island’ auditions, insisted on playing in Longford colours while Carl Dowling whinged until he was allowed wear shin-pads but the coach drew the line at his request for a helmet and shoulder-pads. Dáire Ferguson, with just the one strained hamstring instead of the normal torn two, gave a master-class in marking space. I too, have yet to see space hit a score. Eoin Murchan’s lovechild, Brendan McGill zipped around with his usual flair although the slippy pitch meant he reduced ground speed to a modest 60kph while Darragh Kelly, free of the shackles of Father Joe, told dirty jokes like they were going out of fashion.
From a county known for neither its football nor hurling, Offaly’s Adrian Bryan was resolute and strong and thankfully his annoying habit of wearing a woolly hat to training has been dropped. It’s just pub-team boy, Niall Ronan who insists on that most unusual trend while on the subject of trends, some fellow called Paddy’s reading skills are on a par with his football insofar as interpreting the message about wearing club colours goes. There was also a new boy who showed up for the session, a sure sign a big match is on the horizon. Used to hurl with Dublin I’m told, back when they were even worse than they are now.
Stephen Scully managed to take a shot (albeit with a camera phone) without being carted off the field on a half-door wrapped in tin-foil. Local emergency services breathed an audible sigh of relief while Oisín Gartlan looked to be enjoying the occasion, his trips to training in Piltown as rare as a baby Panda. For the record, Oisín missed the group-pic as posed above which was apt enough considering everything else he misses. Niall “Kerbs” Kerby looked very much in the zone in his snug fitting high-viz bib having pulled out of his strop at being dropped early in the year while Barry “Baz” Kelly looked every inch the corner back he was meant to be, himself and Alan Miley not unlike junkies outside a methadone clinic as they tried to manage the cold turkey of 60 minutes away from WhatsApp.
Paul Nash, the sentimental old warrior that he is, put everything into the session – mind you, that’s not much while Caiman Hall dealt manfully with a clatter from Dowling which left him on the broad of his back. Brian ‘Mad Dog’ Mullen wanted to tear up rocks but that was all done many years ago when the pitch was initially levelled and grass sown at Piltown. Killian and Macca kind of cancelled each other out, they may well have been playing on the same team, who knows or cares, while Bones n’Bob, well the less said the better. Who, you ask? So do we. Handling conditions proved tricky for Colm “Palmolive” Duignan but that would be the case if he were playing in the Sahara.
Our sincere gratitude to busy ball-gatherers and loyal runners, Luke Black and Cormac Grogan who have each been to more training sessions than Skipper and Chicken Wing connoisseur, Mark McGill while anyone taking any offence at the tone of this particular piece should address all comments in writing on the back of either Bob or Keith-son’s cigarette box and send to the customer complaints department in Moran’s Bar, Mornington. All defamation actions will be treated with the utmost gravitas, presented before the executive and managed accordingly.
A big thanks to our own Sean Perry, no surgeon could cut people below the knees as expertly and still be held in such high esteem by his peers!
Team Photo: Steven Scully
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