AND so in begins… Within hours of the Republic of Ireland qualifying for next summer’s European finals on Monday night, former Youth International Gerry Meehan has switched his focus to France.
Meehan, who played alongside some men who went on to become synonymous with Irish soccer, such as the Arsenal trio of Liam Brady, Frank Stapleton and David O’Leary, as well as Dave Langan, is in charge of logistics for a group of die-hard Donegal Irish fans.
A retired psychiatric nurse in St Conals Hospital, Meehan is charged with getting his team – which includes Convoy’s James Barcley, Eric White and Stephen ‘Dotsy’ Doherty – accommodation, flights and tickets for France 2016.
Gerry (59) attended his first Irish game – ironically a Euro qualifier – at Lansdowne Road in May 1975. Switzerland were the opponents and goals from Mick Martin and Ray Treacy gave Ireland a 2-1 win.
He went to the game with the late Charlie ‘Bovril’ Collins and Bovril’s son Charlie.
“It was Ireland’s first game at Lansdowne Road and I made full use of my first ever pay-cheque from St Conal’s and I’ve gone to most of the home games ever since,” he said.
Meehan was in Germany in 1988 to cheer on the Irish team the first time they qualified for the Euros while he was also in Poland four years ago. In between he watched the 1990 World Cup from the comfort of a cruise liner off the Sicilean coast (he is the logistics manager after all!) while he’s watched the Boys in Green in places as far apart as Belfast, Glasgow, London, Brussels, Paris, Seville Copenhagen, Vienna, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Sofia.
Twenty-seven years ago he was joined by his nursing colleagues Austin Cribben, Declan Kerr and Neil Cullen (RIP) in Germany.
Cribben and Cullen were also part of the Italia ‘90 experience where they were joined by Barclay, Seamus ‘Barney’ O’Donnell and Charlie ‘Celtic’ McDaid together with the Milford crew of Mickey Logue, Seamus Durkan and Joe McGinley while Letterkenny’s Clement Harvey and Ardara’s John McDyer were there too.
There followed a fallow ‘Euro’ period until Ireland reached the finals in Poland four years ago when ‘younger members’ Eric White and Stephen Doherty joined Tadhg Culbert (RIP), Dessie Kelly, Michael Lynch, Jason Gibson and Declan Watters as part of the crew.
“It’s been a great journey with some wonderful trips along the way,” he recalled this week.
In 1988, Ireland’s group opponents Holland and Russia reached the final, while four years ago it was the turn of Italy and Spain – also in Ireland’s group – to contest the decider.
“We haven’t been blessed with the kindest draw at the Euro finals but I’m hoping that lady luck shines on us this time around.
“Looking through the different pots I would like us to get England from pot 1, Switzerland from two and either Romania or Slovakia from three – that would be the ideal draw,” he said.
That draw takes place on December 12 and that’s when Gerry Meehan really earns his corn.
“We’ll have a better ideas of where we’ll be playing then and it’s at that point I’ll be busy booking hotels and looking at flight schedules. I’ll be on the look-out for tickets too!”
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Posted: 12:28 pm November 20, 2015
Mr McLaughlin's family say his disappearance is "very out of character" for him.