Boot Room: 'There might have been a bit of aggro with us not wearing Puma'

Tommy Dowd (Meath), Adidas Copa Mondial. 1996 All-Ireland SFC final replay goal v Mayo.
Boot Room: 'There might have been a bit of aggro with us not wearing Puma'
Tommy Dowd of Meath shoots to score a goal during the GAA All-Ireland SFC final replay between Meath and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Tommy Dowd of Meath shoots to score a goal during the GAA All-Ireland SFC final replay between Meath and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Tommy Dowd (Meath), Adidas Copa Mondial. 1996 All-Ireland SFC final replay goal v Mayo.

Puma King were providing boots to a lot of teams at the time like Dublin and ourselves. The boots were distributed through Colm O’Rourke who had a sports shop in Navan back then.

Graham Geraghty, Brendan Reilly and myself wore Adidas, though. We got them through Martin O’Halloran, who's the chairman of Meath's hurling committee now. He was friendly with Paul Moloney in Adidas and through that relationship we got a lot of gear as well as the boots. Hoodies, shorts, the lot.

There might have been a bit of aggro with us not wearing Puma but in fairness to Seán Boylan he didn’t pass too much remark on it. Maybe he and O’Rourke preferred if we were wearing Puma but I always found the Adidas boot more comfortable.

I wore the same boots for both games and they’re with somebody else now, either through charity or one of the nephews, I don’t remember.

Jacksie Kiernan, who would have been over the supporters club for years and years, saw plenty of opportunity in us wearing them. Whenever a young fella came into his sports shop looking for a pair of boots he would be telling him that ‘oh, Tommy Dowd wears that boot’ or ‘oh, Graham Geraghty had them on in Croke Park the last day’ and the mother had to buy them. No better man than Jacksie to sell them.

From the time I started until the time I finished with the club, I always wore Adidas. I fell in love with a pair that had the name of the German footballer Pierre Littbarski on the side and I wore them for a while. I wasn’t great for the upkeep of them — my wife Geraldine would have looked after them for me immaculately.

But the boots that were always shining in our dressing room were Martin O’Connell’s. Shorts, socks, boots… they were always laid out perfectly and he was the man we would have looked up to as a role model. He actually was a bit over the top. He definitely had a compulsive disorder in some way because even going to training there would be a fucking gloss off the boots. Even when we used to get new socks before a Championship game, he would be wearing the socks around the house the night or two beforehand to make sure they fitted nicely into the boot the next day.

Whereas David Beggy was the exact opposite. He would come into the dressing room and the boots wouldn’t have seen a brush from one end of the year to the other but he would still put them on and do a job. They would be absolutely manky. Not many of us had superstitions other than where we sat before training in Navan or before a game in Croke Park.

You just got into that habit and stuck with it over the years.

In conversation with John Fogarty

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