Veteran David Gallagher admitted it was worth sticking it out for 20 years to complete a remarkable treble of Meath SFC titles with his club.
The 38-year-old Meath goalkeeper and former Ireland stopper powered St Peter’s, Dunboyne to success on Sunday, his third county senior medal across three different decades.
He was a rookie goalkeeper for his club in 1998, featured at centre-back in 2005 and was at midfield on Sunday when they beat Summerhill in the decider.The historic achievement capped a memorable year when he also returned to the Meath fold as goalkeeping cover under boss and club mate Andy McEntee.
Days like this are well worth sticking in there for,” said Gallagher. “It wasn’t easy going this year, especially because things didn’t go to plan and I had a bit of an illness and stuff over the summer and an injury. I couldn’t play the semi-final and I was on one leg a lot of the time in the second half of the final but we’re very lucky with the bunch of lads we have, there are some fine footballers playing for Dunboyne.
Gallagher is the only Dunboyne player to have featured in all three of the club’s senior wins, beginning with his first exactly 20 years ago.
And nobody would dare write off a fourth title success in 2020 at the age of 40 which would leave him with medals from four different decades.
“When you win something so young initially, and we had a very good team back in ‘98, you think the sky is the limit after that,” he continued.
“But you quickly find out they are hard won!
“It’s not easy and a lot of the thing this year was that I went back in with Meath. I had soldiered long and hard with an old teammate of mine, Andy McEntee, and he came calling. It was a case that I had respect for the man and I know it was hard going throughout the year and didn’t work out the way I wanted but look, maybe if I hadn’t gone back in there the hunger might not have kept going and days like this wouldn’t have happened.”
Dunboyne’s senior success came on the back of last month’s junior triumph and brought some solace to club official Sean Cox who is still recovering from a high-profile attack suffered in Liverpool earlier this year.
Certain things have happened within the club, with certain personnel, it was terrible what was going on,” said Gallagher.
“We lost a good man in Sean Nealon during the week too and others. Sometimes in life things just come together for you and I’m a firm believer in that.”
The win also came as a big lift to players like Gallagher who were part of an infamous defeat during the 2017 championship.
They drew national headlines for leaking four second-half goals to Simonstown, the eventual champions, coughing up an 11-point lead in last year’s quarter-finals.
“That was tough and even the year before we went to extra-time and that was a game we left behind us too,” said Gallagher, Ireland’s goalkeeper for the successful 2008 International Rules series under Sean Boylan.
Dunboyne will represent Meath in the Leinster club championship though Royal County clubs have a terrible recent record and they’ve been handed a tough draw. They’ll be away to the Wexford champions on Sunday week with the winners advancing to host Dublin’s Kilmacud Crokes or St Jude’s in the quarter-finals. Beyond that it remains to be seen if Gallagher’s inter-county days are over while Stuart Lowndes, the former Dublin forward who nailed the crucial late goal on Sunday, could earn a county call up.
Lowndes, brother of Dublin star Eric, previously featured for Meath in early 2017 after switching clubs from St Peregrine’s in Dublin to nearby Dunboyne across the border. Asked about a Meath return, Lowndes said: “I won’t make any plans on it. Andy knows me well, we’ll see what happens.”