Byrne's Keegan Cup final advice includes enjoying the occasion

Thursday, 11th October, 2018 9:00pm

Byrne's Keegan Cup final advice includes enjoying the occasion

Dunboyne manager Ciaron Byrne

There are a number of snippets of advice Dunboyne manager Ciaron Byrne will be giving his players before sending them out to face Summerhill in Sunday's SFC showdown according to JIMMY GEOGHEGAN

Right up there at the top of the list will be one big suggestion - enjoy the occasion. 

Few people can be better qualified in advising a group of players about the particular demands of county final day than Byrne.

After all he has been there, done that - and then some. 

The Dunboyne manager played in four SFC finals with his club Dunshaughlin, winning three - 2000, 2001 and 2002. Not only that, he was captain when they won the Keegan Cup in 2001. 

“It was a great time for all involved, I played in four senior county finals and won three of them, the three-in-a-row,” he told the Meath Chronicle.

“The players are probably fitter now than we were, but we definitely enjoyed the experience and that's what I'll be saying to the guys, enjoy it.
“I was lucky to get to four but these guys might never get to another one, you just don't know,” he added.

Byrne knows how in the excitement of the build up, the helter-skelter of a day, it can all so easily pass a player by.

He wants his troops to take a deep breath on the big day and soak it all up without losing sight of the main focus - to win the coveted Keegan Cup, something Dunboyne has not achieved since 2005. 

That he knows is not going to be an easy task. Not surprisingly he has taken a forensic look at this Summerhill team and he detects trouble emanating from a variety of sources. 

Particularly troubling he suggests, is their ability to turn opportunities to scores.

He name-checks a number of players such as Davy Dalton, Sean Dalton, Davy Larkin, Kevin Ryan and Barry Dardis all of whom made scoring contributions to Summerhill's demolition of Donaghmore/Ashbourne's in the semi-final. Dardis, he points out to underline his point, bagged 2-6 alone.

Another factor that will drive Summerhill on, says Byrne, is the fact that they were defeated in last year's final. He knows that to derive some extra strength or energy all a Summerhill player has to do is reflect on last autumn and recall how their ambitions were blown off course by Simonstown Gaels. 

Not that Byrne is suggesting for a second that all the aces are held by the team in blue and gold.

One thing he's certain about is that Sunday's clash won't be a one-sided affair. Instead, he feels, it will go down to the proverbial bounce of a ball. 

He talks of his own team's “energy and drive” and the fact that this year a number of young players have emerged to bring an extra dimension to the Dunboyne cause. 

“The difference between this year and last is that we concentrated on putting together a large squad, there's a good mix of youth and experience.

“In the league we decided to give young players a chance and some of them have taken the chance.

“Sean Ryan, Michael Murphy and Liam Byrne are all just turning 18 this year, they all made their senior championship debuts this year. At one end we have David Gallagher, who is 38, and at the other there's those young lads, they have blended together very well.”

Another big plus for Dunboyne this year has been the addition of former Meath player Sean Kelly to the ticket.

While Byrne enjoyed some great days as a player with Dunshaughlin he is first to admit he had “little or no experience” in managing before he took charge of Dunboyne. 

Now in his second year at the helm Byrne says he has learned a lot from Kelly, who has a wealth of experience of managing at club level having taken charge of teams such as Donaghmore/Ashbourne who lost to Simonstown (0-8 to 1-14) in the 2016 showdown. Kelly is a selector along with Ger Robinson and John Lowndes as well as filling in as team trainer. 

“We were delighted when Sean said he would come in with us this year, he brought that experience that I probably lacked,” said Byrne. 

If there is one lesson Byrne has learned as manager it is the need to trust the troops under his command. Trust them that they will make the right choices in the heat of battle.

“You have to trust them and we've trusted them all year, sometimes it has worked, sometimes it hasn't worked, but we've certainly given them their head.

“You have to trust them to allow them to play what's in front of them, each game is different, you can make all the plans you like, but a goal here, maybe a shower of rain or a black card or an injury can change everything.

“Players just have to adapt to situations. We've got a squad full of leaders, David Gallagher, Shane McEntee, Donal Lenihan, Robbie McCarthy, we've leaders all over the field.” 

Byrne, who runs BMB. Road Surfacing with his brother Martin, doesn't have any truck with those who bemoan the quality of football they see unfolding on the fields of Meath. In his opinion the standard of fare served up in the championship is of a very high order. 

Reflecting on his team's campaign he says the extra-time victory over Gaeil Colmcille in the quarter-final was sweet. There Dunboyne's mettle was severely road-tested yet they came good.

Another big test awaits on Sunday, but when the Dunboyne players leave the dressing room they will, no doubt, have Byrne's words swirling around their minds. “Enjoy it, boys.” 

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