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The Boston Housemates Going Head-To-Head In Tomorrow's Meath U21 Final

The Boston Housemates Going Head-To-Head In Tomorrow's Meath U21 Final

In their apartment, over 4,500 miles from Páirc Tailteann, Ronan Jones and Enda Cahill joked about the possibility of it happening - that their two clubs would meet in the Meath U21 Championship final.

At the quarter-final stage both Jones's Dunboyne and Cahill's Ratoath were still in contention. Then, in the semi-finals, Dunboyne defeated Senchalstown by a goal and Ratoath rolled over Simonstown by ten points.

The showdown was set. Still, they thought Twitter updates or local radio was all they would experience of the action.

Both Jones and Cahill are students and housemates at Northeastern University in Boston where they major in Finance.

"It's mad," Jones told Balls shortly after stepping out of a lecture on the Northeastern campus.

Neither of us really thought we'd be going home for the U21.

The managers were on to us then asking if we'd be willing to go back. We had a right laugh about it over here.

We were going to the gym together and were saying, 'Should we be going together?'

For Jones, the trip home for a game will be nothing new. He's already taken the six-hour flight four times this year to line out for St. Peter's Dunboyne in the quarter-final, semi-final and final of the Meath SFC and the first round of the Leinster Championship against Kilmacud Crokes.

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The major obstacle to playing in those games was not the distance nor the cost - it was gaining permission from lecturers to miss classes.

"It's not like at home where you don't turn up to your Monday morning lecture, you don't get away with that over here. They know you by name and if you're not there, you have to explain why you weren't there.

"They're didn't really understand it. They were sort of wondering if was it a professional thing.

"We had to make it out to be bigger than it was. We didn't let on it was U21, we kind of hinted it was a semi-professional level.

"One or two of them got it. The other ones had no notion what it was.

"Sport isn't the same over here. They didn't get it that we're going it for the love of the club."

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Cahill flew back to Ireland on Wednesday and Jones on Thursday. Their return flight departs on Sunday afternoon.

Both were students of Global Business at DCU where the first two years are spent studying in Ireland and the final two in the US. Jones has been in Boston for a year. Cahill arrived this year.

Though Dunboyne and Ratoath are just 15 minutes apart, the two didn't know each other until recently. Now living in an apartment of five - which swelled to nine or ten when some Meath brethren travelled to Boston to play football during the summer - that has changed.

They train together and, though neither had played rugby before moving to the US, now line out for the University's team.

They also save a few dollars by cutting each other's hair.

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We've been doing that in our house for the last year. Typical students - haircuts can be bloody expensive - so, they were one of the first luxuries to go.

For the last year, I've been cutting the boys' hair in the house with a $20 thing we bought on Amazon.

Then Enda came over and he's slightly better at it.

Jones made his Meath senior debut in 2016 and had his first start last year. Just as he was making his breakthrough into inter-county football, it was tough to leave.

His 2018 football summer would last much longer than his former teammates. While Meath exited the championship in early June, Jones's endured until late August when his Wolfe Tones team were defeated by a superstar Donegal Boston side featuring Diarmuid Connolly, Liam Silke, Shane Carthy, Brendan Murphy and Eoin McHugh in the Boston Championship final.

Jones will graduate in May with two qualifications, one from DCU and one from Northeastern. Once finished, he can spend another year working in the US. That's an option he's leaning towards at the moment.

"Obviously, when I do get home, I'd love to get back involved with Meath. I am conscious that if I do spend another year over year, I will fall behind a bit.

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"At the same time, I would like to get a bit of travelling done while I can. I know boys do find it hard to take the year off."

When he does make that brief return this weekend, Jones's Dunbyone teammates will recognise the effort he has made but he also knows that he's not the only one making a sacrifice.

"It's obviously tough going back but it's also tough on the boys. I'd make sure that when I go back, I'd say to who's ever missing out that, 'I'll try as hard as you would try.'

"They appreciate that I'm willing to come back and it's the same for Enda. Nobody is against me coming back.

"Whatever happens on Saturday, we'll have to get out for a few jars anyway. You can sleep on a plane."

Picture credit: Sportsfile

See Also: It's Tough To Avoid The Chatter In Football Mad Donegal Town

PJ Browne
Article written by

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