by John Donohoe
Reminiscences of times and glories past, and ambitious plans for the future, were all part of a Dunshaughlin GFC ‘Night with the Stars’ in the village.
The event in An Sibin pub was to launch a fundraising drive for the club’s planned new dressing room and meeting facilities on its Drumree Road grounds.
Present day Dublin footballer Bernard Brogan, holder of two All Ireland senior football championship medals, was joined by former Dublin footballer and scion of Dunshaughlin, Paul Curran, who also possesses a coveted All-Ireland SFC medal.
Curran admitted that he was a very confused young lad until he was about 15 or 16 – his late father Noel, a member of Meath’s All-Ireland winning SFC team of 1967, continued to play with Dunshaughlin up to the age of 39, even though he lived in Tallaght. And every other Sunday, the young Paul, as the eldest in the family, would be dragged along to Dunshaughlin.
“And there was no main road to Dunshaughlin like there is now,” he recalled. “We’d come through Clondalkin, Lucan and Clonsilla – it was a long drive to Dunshaughlin, but it showed my father’s incredible loyalty to the club.”
He recalled meeting a lot of Dunshaughlin players after the games, in visits to Murray’s pub with his quaint archway and darts board, and they’d always be the last to leave.
“But it’s what shaped me,” the 1995 footballer of the year added. And he remembered the huge interest in his home in the Dunshaughlin three-in-a-row Meath SFC win of 1999-2001, and the great battles with Rathnew.
He welcomed the new black card system as a good thing for the game, and says football is much quicker now.
“I remember playing against Meath in the early 1990s – if you didn’t get four or five pucks in the first 15 minutes, something would be wrong!” he joked.
One of the stars of that glorious Dunshaughlin era, Richie Kealy, said it was great to see so many of that team again at the event on Friday night.
He describes Curran as one of his idols growing up, and was delighted when the Dub with Meath roots coached him at DIT. And he said those years with Dunshaughlin GFC from 1999 on would stick out in his memory for the rest of his life.
“The enjoyment we had, the craic we had, the trips as a club, they were great. And there was the rivalry with Rathnew – we played them nine times in three years, we won some, we lost some.”
He believes that Dunshaughlin should be aiming for the club championships again, and the new facilities proposed would help that target.
Bernard Brogan told master of ceremonies Brendan Cummins that he was very familiar with Dunshaughlin.
“I did a lot of my courting in the Vortex,” he laughed. “So I want to thank the females of the area!”
The St Oliver Plunkett’s man explained that Dublin put a lot of investment into its youth development 10 years ago, and it was paying off now, just as Dunshaughlin are putting emphasis on their juveniles now.
Meath footballer Michael Newman (bemoaning that he never got to the Vortex!) described how his club, Kilmainham, had enjoyed greater success when its facilities improved from a flooded field they had played in the past, while Meath womens player Irene Munnelly described the Dunshaughlin project, which has specialised ladies’ changing rooms, as a ‘blueprint for the future’.
Another Dunshaughlin player and former Meath footballer, Caoimhin King, highlighted the great new pitches and training facilities that have been developed in Dunshaughlin over recent years, and said that the new clubhouse facilities would complement them greatly.
Other speakers included chairman of Dunshaughlin GFC, Neil O’Dwyer, Royal Gaels women’s club chairman, Colm Bracken, and juvenile chairman, Frank Gallogly. Guests included Fr Joe Clavin, PP, Co Board chairman, Conor Tormey, Teresa Curran, wife of the late Noel, and club president, 86 year-old Patsy McLoughlin, who has seen a great deal of Dunshaughlin’s successes, and intends seeing many more.
Dunshaughlin has developed new training and playing pitches in recent years, and now needs to upgrade its club premises. A fundraising drive is in place to raise €145,000 as a local contribution to the project, which involves the building of facilities comprising six new dressing rooms, including some specially designed for the women players, committee rooms, clubrooms, toilet facilities, and a terrace overlooking the pitches - see image of proposed building below.
The current dressing rooms were built in 1988 and no longer can cater for the growth and needs of Dunshaughlin GFC, which is catering for 20 teams across all levels, juvenile, adult and women’s in the village that has a population of around 6,000.
Club chairman Neil O’Dwyer outlined how people can contribute. Donations of €1,000 are sought, which can be made up of individual or combined contributions. A number of people can club together to make up €1,000, with details available on the website, www.dunshaughlingaa.com. Having raised around €65,000 from donation since Christmas already, a further €145,000 is needed.