We reflect on the great success of Meath winning the 1993 Leinster U-21 Football Championship.
Tommy Hanley looks back at the glory days, talks players, and last year’s win with Clann na nGael.
See now, an article from the 2018 SFC Programme about the team:
The Magnificent Double as Minor Champions of ’90, Win the Under-21 Title Of ’93
Coiste na Mí extends a warm welcome this afternoon to the team that won the County’s only All-Ireland Under-21 Football Championship 25 years ago.
Despite a disappointing record in the competition, there was substantial optimism at the outset due to the All-Ireland Minor success of 1990. That victory was achieved with a remarkably talented team…the question was…could they repeat the feat 3 years later? After all, success at minor level doesn’t always guarantee success at Under-21 level.
Meath did not achieve Under-21 success in Leinster until 1985 but, when captain Robbie O’Malley and his colleagues made the breakthrough, the county soon became a major force in the province highlighted by the memorable 3-in-a-row in 1989, ’90 and ’91. On each occasion, however, Meath failed to advance to the All-Ireland Final.
The preparations for a determined challenge in 1993 began in January with Paul Kenny in charge. He had guided the team to the All-Ireland Minor title in 1990 and he was always optimistic that his team was capable of repeating their Minor success. Longford provided the opposition in the 1st round at Pearse Park and although Meath advanced to the 2nd round, they were not particularly impressive in doing so. Dunsany’s Jimmy McGuinness was the only major change in personnel from the team that had won the All-Ireland Minor title while Graham Geraghty and Peter Sullivan scored the goals in a 2-13 to 1-1 victory. Longford did not score in the 2nd half.
Incredibly, Meath were trailing by a point to Kilkenny at half-time in the 2nd round game at Páirc Tailteann, 0-3 to 0-4 and an All-Ireland title seemed a very long way away. But that’s as bad as it got, and Meath pulled away in the 2nd half with Jason Hendrick’s goal helping them to a 1-14 to 0-4 victory. Like Longford in the opening round, Kilkenny failed to score in the 2nd half.
Two hurdles negotiated but there was nothing to encourage optimism about the prospects of a Leinster title…not to mention an All-Ireland! And the same could be said after the Leinster semi-final performance against Wexford in Newbridge. The Model County had dethroned the reigning provincial champions Kildare and they provided a stiff test. They scored 2 goals in the opening half and led by 3 points at half-time. An early 2nd half goal from Hugh Carolan was a huge boost for Meath and they eventually qualified for the final with a 3-point win, 1-13 to 2-7.
The Leinster final was played at Croke Park with Dublin providing the opposition…it was curtain-raiser to the replayed National League final between Dublin and Donegal. It was a tense game throughout with Meath stepping up several gears from their previous displays and although only 2 points separated the team at the final whistle, 2-11 to 2-9, Paul Kenny’s team were comfortable enough winners. Dublin’s 2nd goal came in the closing stages. Meath’s goals came from Peter Sullivan and Jason Hendrick. Jimmy McGuinness, Tony Byrne, Tom Hanley, Enda McManus, and Graham Geraghty were outstanding while Jason Hendrick and Terry Connor were others to enjoy the Croke Park experience.
Castleblayney was the venue for the All-Ireland semi-final clash with Derry who had also provided the opposition at the same stage of the 1990 Minor semi-final. The game ended all square and although it was Derry that grabbed a late equaliser, Meath took more credit from the result having played from the 23rd minute with only 14 men after corner-back Vinny Ryan was dismissed. Graham Geraghty and Terry Connor were inspirational for Meath and the final score was Meath 0-13 Derry 1-10.
It was back to Castleblayney for the replay where the Leinster champions moved up another gear en route to a 0-11 to 1-6 victory. The 2-point margin of defeat was somewhat flattering to Derry and although Meath had not managed to score a goal in either game, they were showing serious signs of re-capturing their All-Ireland winning Minor form. And just like the Minor final of 1990, it was Kerry who stood in the way. It was a memorable occasion at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise, and at the end of a frantic, hard-fought encounter, the scoreboard read Meath 1-8 Kerry 0-10. The Meath goal was scored by Gaeil Colmcille’s Thomas Shine who connected with a centre from Peter Sullivan. The goal came after only 7 minutes and it helped Meath to a 2-point interval lead. Shine’s early 2nd half-point was a significant boost for the team and he finished as top scorer along with Cathal Sheridan who scored 0-4. Captain Tom Hanley from Athboy became the only Meathman, to date, to be presented with the Tim Clarke Cup.
The winning team was; Conor Martin (Ballivor), Vincent Ryan (Ballinlough), Enda McManus (St. Peter’s, Dunboyne), Ronan McGrath (Simonstown Gaels), John McCarthy (Walterstown), Graham Geraghty (Seneschalstown), Tom Hanley Capt. (Athboy), Jason Hendrick (Enfield), Jimmy McGuinness (Dunsany), Thomas Shine (Gaeil Colmcille), Hugh Carolan (St. Colmcille’s), Tony Byrne (St. Peter’s, Dunboyne), Peter Sullivan (St. Patrick’s), Terry Connor (Ballivor), and Cathal Sheridan (Moynalvey).
Subs v Kerry: Brendan Kealy (Dunshaughlin), Trevor Giles (Skryne) and Noel Collier (St. Patricks).
Other panel members: John Brady (O’Mahony’s), Kevin Jordan (Gaeil Colmcille), Kenneth Cantwell (Simonstown Gaels), Paul Shankey (Kilmainhamwood), Darragh Canning (Kilcloon), Conor Macken (Seneschalstown), Graham Cooke (Simonstown Gaels) and Derry Hunt (Gaeil Colmcille).
The Selectors were: Paul Kenny (Trainer and Coach), Johnny Sullivan, Oliver Harding, Jim Cooney, Tommy Mahon and John Joe Murray.
Kitman: Benny Gartland. Team Co-ordinator: Jim Gilligan
Posted in: County Teams / An Contae