Celebrations planned to honour the 1987 All-Ireland champions

Story by Jimmy Geoghegan

Wednesday, 4th April, 2012 4:54pm

Celebrations planned to honour the 1987 All-Ireland champions

Frankie Byrne and Sean Boylan on the sidelines at Croke Park during Meath's 1987 All-Ireland semi-final victory over Derry.

They walked in through the front door of the Knightsbrook Hotel in ones and twos, a roll call of famous Meath players who had combined to make the Royal County a feared football force.

Mick Lyons, Gerry McEntee, Colm O'Rourke, Liam Harnan, David Beggy, Terry Ferguson and Joe Cassells were just some of the heroes who showed up at the Trim hotel on Monday evening for the launch of a 25th anniversary lunch to mark the team's achievement in claiming the Sam Maguire cup in 1987.

The anniversary lunch is due to take place on the Friday 21st September, 1.30 at the Knightsbrook Hotel.

Tickets will be made available to members of the public and they and the players will be part of an event aimed at celebrating an achievement in what was the start of a golden era for Meath football.

Ticket are €100 (€1,000 a table) and can be booked from former Co Committee chairman Fintan Ginnity and the players. Some tickets have already been booked.

Also present at the launch was the team's manager Sean Boylan who in a speech referred to the "great bond" that existed between the players at the time; a bond that clearly still exists.

Boylan said it doesn't feel like 25 years since that balmy day in September 1987 when Meath ended a 20-year drought to take the Sam Maguire back to the banks of the Boyne.

"I want everybody who is here to understand that people want to celebrate this. You're not being a burden on anybody. I know that people are really looking forward to spending time with the lads that gave them such value and such entertainment for so long, and it did go on for a long time."

Boylan also spoke about the tremendous backing given to the team by people such as Noel Keating from Kepak, and the company will be also involved in sponsoring the anniversary dinner.

It was, he said an "extraordinary relationship" between the businessman and the Meath football team.

Boylan recalled the deep emotion he felt when Meath won the Sam Maguire in 1996 and they brought the cup through Clonee back to the Kepak plant.

The Dunboyne herbalist added that it was very important to give the 25th anniversary event "a good rattle" so that the bond that existed between players, supporters and sponsor should be celebrated and remembered. "It was a unique bond, the kind you see among family members in a time of crisis, but was real," he added.

Boylan recalled how winning the Sam Maguire in 1987 gave Meath a huge lift at a time when the county was suffering the effects of an economic recession.

"In 1987 17 per cent of the Irish population was unemployed, 23 per cent of the population of Meath was unemployed, but we were the richest county in Ireland because we won the All-Ireland, the Sam Maguire and it was the common denominator between us all."

Among the former stars who showed up was Trim's Peter Darby who captained Meath to the 1967 All-Ireland success.

Boylan spoke about how the achievements of that team had set a target for the later generation of players especially those in the 1980s who finally ended the 20-year drought without an All-Ireland SFC title.

Cusack Hotel Group managing director Alan McEntee spoke about how he is determined to make the anniversary dinner something special. "We certainly intend to pull out all the stops to make it a memorable day," he added.

Kepak representative and former Meath footballer Kevin Cahill - who was on the All-Ireland-winning panel of 1996 - spoke about how he was studying in Cork in the late 1980s when Meath were winning All-Irelands and engaged in a fascinating tussle for supremacy with the Rebel County.

He added that Kepak were delighted to be once more involved with an event involving the Meath team of that era. A golden era for the county.

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