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Sean Boylan Was Never Afraid To Take Unexpected Option With Meath

29 September 1996; Meath manager Sean Boylan is interviewed by RTE's Brian Carthy following the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final Replay match between Meath and Mayo at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
PJ Browne
By PJ Browne Updated
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Sean Boylan turns 80 today. The Meath legend managed the county's senior footballers for 23 years, winning four All-Irelands between 1987 and 1999. During that time, Boylan was always prepared to take an unexpected turn.

In 1991, Meath defeated Dublin in the first round of the Leinster Championship following a famous four-game saga. Before the fourth and decisive game, the Meath county board asked Boylan if he thought a weekend away would benefit the team.


"Most of the lads were married and I said to the wives, 'Listen, would you mind if I took the lads away for a couple of days?' [They said], 'Seanie, anything to beat the Dubs!' That's the way it was," Boylan said in 'Seán', a documentary released in 2020.

sean boylan documentary rte

6 July 1991; Niall Guiden, Dublin in action against Colm Coyle, Meath, Dublin v Meath, Leinster Football Championship 1st round, 3rd replay. Picture credit; Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

Many of Boylan's players, including Colm O'Rourke, Colm Coyle, Mick Lyons and Gerry McEntee also featured in the programme.


"We were one week from the biggest game of our lives," said O'Rourke.

Next thing we were told, 'Get ready, on Friday evening, we're heading for Scotland'. Wives, girlfriends, the whole lot.

It definitely was the biggest drinking session I was ever involved in. The craic was fantastic on the Friday night. It got to the point at five or six in the morning where there was no drink left in the hotel.

We went out the next day and tried to train and weren't really able to train very well. We came back on Sunday totally refreshed.

Boylan said that the trip broke the tension which was building in the group. They defeated Dublin by a point in the third replay and beat Laois in the Leinster final.

27 September 1999; Meath manager Sean Boylan and captain Graham Geraghty hold up the Sam Maguire Cup during the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final post-match reception at the Burlington Hotel in Ballsbridge, Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

In the build-up to the 1991 campaign, Boylan utilised innovative training methods as many of the Meath team were in their 30s and beginning to creak with injuries.

Boylan read about 1984 Olympic marathon champion Joan Benoit and how, due to an injury, she had mainly trained in a swimming pool to prepare for those Games.


5 September 1996; Trevor Giles is put through his paces by manager Sean Boylan during a Meath training session prior to their clash between Mayo at the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile

"At the end of the All-Ireland in 1990, it was 'Are we finished?'" said Boylan.


"We headed to Gormanstown College and in the college there was this great swimming pool. We go in, put on the buoyancy aids and had the lads do training in water.

"Up to three weeks before we played the first round against Dublin, the training with me was all done in water.

"I remember after the training session, we were in the car and we were driving out the gates of Gormanstown College.


"Gerry [McEntee] turned to me and said, 'Do you mind me asking you something? How are you going to face the people of Meath next June when you're beaten in the first round of Leinster and people say, 'How did the training go?' [and the answer is] 'We were swimming'.'

Meath ultimately lost that year's All-Ireland final to Down.

See Also: Meath Boss Colm O'Rourke Feels Other Counties May Have 'Something To Hide' With Expenses



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