In 2004 Michael Meehan won a much-coveted AIB All-Ireland Club football title. His 0-05 in the final proved crucial as they saw off an An Ghaeltacht side which included Dara O Cinneide as well as Darragh, Tomás and Marc Ó Sé.
Meehan's five points came on foot of a monstrous 4-13 in rounds previous. He and his four brothers proved crucial to their small club's success, just a year after they were almost relegated. That All-Ireland final win came in the same year as their first Galway title.
Michael Meehan originally retired from inter-county football in 2014. He went back to his club to do "the bare minimum' just to complete a year. That was a self-confessed watershed moment for Meehan. The GAA is full of debilitated players who offer the standard cliché that they enjoy what they're doing so they put up with it. Meehan declined that stance. He openly confessed the game was no longer enjoyable and that when faced with a year of physio, intensive rehab, meticulous diet and nutrition wasn’t bearable. He had tried everything, surgery and alternative therapy. It wasn't working.
For the youth of Galway, Michael Meehan loomed large for the early part of the 21st century. He was a player with grace and style. Regularly, he racked up enormous tallies. 0-09 in the 2005 All-Ireland u21 semi-final, 3-2 in the final. That famous 0-10 against Kerry in 2008. When Meehan got the ball and turned towards goal, anticipation rose. It was a prized asset for the Tribesmen.
Galway have a new version of that now, Damien Comer. Like Meehan, he won an under-21 All-Ireland in 2013. He is now among the best forwards in the game, although as he tells Balls.ie, he did have an ideal example to look up to:
I suppose for me he was always a player I really looked up to. As honest and as skilful a player you'd get. I used to love watching him play. I'm a little bit disappointed I never got to play with him in his really good days as it would have been a dream. His left foot kicking from placed balls and from open play was one of the best around.
Last year Meehan was coaxed out of retirement by Kevin Walsh, gifting Galway the return of their star-forward and Comer the chance to play alongside a childhood hero:
Even when he made the return last year it was such a boost to morale to see him around. He lifted spirits. His standards were always very high and he demanded them across the group. He had a huge impact on our season last year. Although unlucky with some injuries and not getting much game time, he still was a true leader to have around. I've no doubt he'll have a future in coaching in years to come.
In 2013, Michael Meehan landed 1-6 against Cork as he single-handily tried to drag his county into an All-Ireland quarter-final. That included a last-minute goal which saw Meehan drive the goal past 10 cork defenders and bring Galway within a point. That's a left foot Comer is well familiar with: "I'm pretty sure he's broken keepers wrist with the power of his shots."
For Damien Comer, as a footballer, Meehan was a legend but even when growing up, it was his off-field demeanour that really captivated him:
Just a gentleman through and through. A man who gave it his all for club and county and was humble in everything he did.
In his retirement statement, Meehan confessed: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." He certainly brought more of the former to a young Galway fan.