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Sean Boylan Was Amazed At How Much The Toulouse Rugby Team Knew About Gaelic Football

Sean Boylan Was Amazed At How Much The Toulouse Rugby Team Knew About Gaelic Football
By Conor Neville
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Back in early 1994, when the Cusack Stand was a building site, Meath won the first National League title under its current sponsorship.

Armagh, the mired in doldrums in Ulster championship terms, managed to reach the final. Armagh hung with their more illustrious opponents for much of the game but Bernard Flynn grabbed a late goal to stick a cruel look on the scoreline.

Meath's manager that day was back in Croke Park as part of a launch announcing that Allianz would continue their sponsorship until 2020.

During his chat with Michael Lyster, he talked about the state of the game. When coach of the international rules team, he recalled a training camp in Toulouse where the gilded aristocrats of French rugby, boasting a team of international from eight different countries, were all very aware of Gaelic football - and were mad to try it out.

What amazed me was how much they knew about Gaelic football... There were eight different internationals.  They known the game. And they couldn't wait to have a go at it.

It wasn't the first time he mingled with professional rugby players. When he was still the Meath boss in the early to mid 2000s, they headed for a training camp in Cape Town and linked up with the Stormers.

Him and then Stormers coach (and future Ireland forwards coach) Gert Smal swapped places and Boylan took the Stormers team for a session.


It also happened me when I was down in South Africa. It was the Stormers (in Cape Town). Gert Smal was coach. He took my lads (Meath) for a session and I took his lads for a session. And I remember the Leinster-Munster rugby match out here (Croke Park). The famous day that Leinster beat Munster. And I'm going up for a cup of tea afterwards and Declan Kidney is there and suddenly Gert Smal says 'Declan, Declan, that's him. That's the little fella'.


Did he foresee Meath entering the wilderness after 2001? After the 2001 All-Ireland, Meath changed the structure of their county championship. Boylan warned that Meath could go ten years without winning a Leinster title. It in fact took nine years for them to reclaim the Leinster championship under Eamonn O'Brien, who was subsequently dumped as manager after that year's championship. However, by the time of Boylan's departure in 2005, he felt Leinster success was attainable within two years.

No, my last words to the county board were when I left were 'with a bit of luck we could win within two years.' And it didn't happen...

Naturally, we had to ask him about Martin McHugh's left-field explanation for Meath's decline in the 21st century. Namely, the nefarious influence of that ultimate curse in disguise, the Celtic Tiger.

The big cat that roared in Ireland between the mid-1990s and the late-2000s was to blame for Meath lads 'going soft', in McHugh's eyes.

Lads from Skryne and Summerhill, their heads turned by thoughts of a third level education neglected their responsibilities towards the farm. Meath football suffered as a result. What did Boylan make of this much ridiculed explanation?


You can make a case for anything. All I know is.I was talking about the Cumann na mBunscoill earlier. And you see fourteen kids below in Dungany. Meath people want to play Gaelic football. That's the way it is.

Time for a quick Mick Lyons story? Someone idly inquired of Lyons why he had retired.

'Too many cameras', Lyons replied.


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Allianz Ireland along with the GAA today announced the renewal of Allianz's support of communities across Ireland through a five year extension of its sponsorship of the Allianz Football and Hurling Leagues. Spanning 28 years and encompassing the 2020 season, Allianz’ renewed commitment to the competition makes the Insurance provider one of the longest standing supporters of Gaelic Games.

Read more: Gordon D'Arcy Recalls His Sorry Circumstances On The Day Wexford Won The All-Ireland

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