Sam arrived by car fresh from Parnell Park on a crisp and bright Wednesday morning, the 23rd of November, for his day out in Skerries.
He was met by Skerries Harp’s GPO Louise Byrne and Club Coach Johnny Beggs in the Harps HQ before being brought to Scoil Mobhi in Milverton for his first stop. He was met there by his Dublin minder for the day David Byrne, the 22 year old full back from St. Olaf’s who played a stormer of a match to help Dublin overcome Mayo on 1st October, bringing Sam back to the Capital for the second year in a row in the process.
Johnny Tyndall, Principal in Scoil Mobhi was first to welcome Sam and his entourage into his classroom where all the boys and girls got a chance to meet Sam and David and get pictures taken. Many of the kids were decked out in blue and were delighted to welcome their old friend Sam back to their fantastic school. The bat nesting in the school shed didn’t even get a look in this morning! It was all about Sam. Just to let parents know the kids didn’t write on each other’s clothes today – that was David Byrne’s fault! The autograph pen was working overtime!
From there Sam was whisked by car to the Harps for a few club photos and then made his way across to St. Patrick’s Junior School. He received a huge welcome from all the boys and girls who were patiently waiting in the hall. Again blue was the order of the day with the flags and crests made by them decorating the room. (there was a very small poster in the Kerry colours but rumour has it a teacher made that one!). David Byrne spoke with the children and answered some very good questions put to him by the children (including explaining how why he was on crutches). After a huge cheer following the “congratulations” performance by 1 class, Sam dashed across the yard to the senior school.
St. Patrick’s Senior School filed into their hall where again his minder David greet the kids and explained what it takes to get to the top on any sport. In a word – Attitude. He said that skill will only get you so far buy attitude and willingness to work hard will get you the rest of the way! After more questions and stories, Sam was sent off with a huge “up the Dubs”. David was impressed with the painting that the children made of Jonny Cooper although he did remark that his arms weren’t that muscly! (There could be a hint of the green-eyed monster there).
Sam and David then made the trip to Skerries Community College. They were greeted at the door by students just on their break. The U16 football team lined out to get a team photo with Sam and David and they even had their on TY photographer on the job! A quick announcement over the speakers and the young ladies and gents piled into the canteen to meet Sam and David. Again the questions were fired at David and he focussed on what his diet is like to be able to compete at the highest level. There were a few groans as he explained turning down take-aways with his mates as he stuck to his healthy-eating ways! “The more colour on your plate the better” he explained but Johnny Beggs was quick to point out that a plate of Skittles doesn’t count! Photos galore and it was off to the next school. Just as Sam and David were leaving one student was heard saying “ Yes…..we’ve missed Spanish” – so someone was happy with the visit!
Sam was then chauffeured from there to Skerries Educate Together. Sam and David posed for photos and once again they received a huge welcome from the children gathered in the hall. The questions came think and hard and there was 1 which stumped everyone – “how old is Sam”. David dealt with that like a true professional – said he didn’t know and move on! Google then came to the rescue. Turns out Sam is 88 years old (although he doesn’t look it). He was first presented to Kildare after they defeated Cavan in 1928. More photos and a huge cheer and Sam was on his way back to the town and into Holmpatrick.
Sam (and his pal David) were hungry when they arrived in Holmpatrick at 1pm. The children were playing and having their lunch but they weren’t long heading back to class to greet Sam and David. Their classroom was also decorated for the occasion and the questions came thick and fast at David. When asked who did he look up to when growing up, David Byrne recalled the story of meeting Bryan Cullen in his club, having a photo taken with Bryan and his jersey signed when he wasn’t much older than the children in the room. David explained that he didn’t think that he would ever play for Dublin let alone win an All-Ireland with our own hero Bryan. “Hard work always pays off” was the message he gave “whether that’s on the pitch or in the classroom”. After the children lifted the roof with a cheer and a few more photos with some awe-struck teachers, it was off to Realt na Mara.
Sam and David got a much needed sandwich and cup of team before heading off to each class in the junior school. All the children were waiting patiently to meet and greet Sam and again had some great questions to ask. When David couldn’t recall the final score in the match he simply said “I’m a back so I don’t get scores I stop them”. He gave credit to Mayo as the best team he’s ever played although he doesn’t believe in the curse!
The senior school all piled into the hall and gave a huge welcome to Sam and David. Louise Byrne and Johnny Beggs who have spent the morning with Sam and David asked the children questions and even explained that what they teach in PE will help avoid injuries like the one David was sporting today as he hobbles in his boot and on crutches. Even David said he will have to learn how to land properly! Again the questions were excellent and the welcome was warm.
Despite this being Sam’s trip to Skerries, we have to give the Man of the Match award to David Byrne. He was truly inspirational. Despite being a mere 22 years old, he spoke with great knowledge and experience and he is a true credit to his family, club and county. We are very lucky in Dublin to have such great talent willing to give their time to bring a piece of sporting history into our schools and community. It is the definition of what that GAA stands for and we in Skerries Harps were very proud of our club and community. In particular we are proud of the teachers and children who provided a warm welcome today to Sam and David, the same way they welcome Louise Byrne and Johnny Beggs each week as they bring PE and Gaelic Games into the schools.
As David Byrne said today, it won’t be long before some of today’s children will bring back Sam and other silverware to their old schools in Skerries.
Skerries and Dublin Abu.