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Giles harbours regret over All-Ireland defeat after 19 years but still counts himself lucky

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Trevor Giles captains Meath before the 2001 All-Ireland final. Photo: Sportsfile

Trevor Giles captains Meath before the 2001 All-Ireland final. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Trevor Giles captains Meath before the 2001 All-Ireland final. Photo: Sportsfile

Time slips by and life moves on as quickly for the stars as for the rest of us.

Last night, former Meath team mates Trevor Giles and Mark O'Reilly were on opposing sides as the U-11s of Skryne and Summerhill faced off. Exactly 19 years earlier, to the day, they played together in an All-Ireland final.

The closing months of 2001 were a strange time. Tongues were still wagging in the GAA universe after Kerry had been beaten by a point a man in Croke Park in an All-Ireland semi-final. Meath were hot favourites for a fifth Sam Maguire under Seán Boylan but the build-up was dominated by the events of 9/11 which was still the topic of conversation as the All-Ireland final drew closer.

"The Sunday Independent used to do the captains' table thing where they'd talk to the two captains together before the All-Ireland," Giles recalls.

"And myself and Gary Fahy were meeting down in Glasson for a bit of golf and a chat. 9/11 had just happened the day before and I remember driving down to Glasson, listening to Gerry Ryan and they were all talking about it. It was massive news… the world had changed."

Galway won the day. A Pádraic Joyce Tour de Force meant that Galway, Meath and Kerry had shared the previous six All-Ireland titles between them.

Meath went into the game heavily fancied after their 2-14 to 0-5 dismantling of Kerry but never reached anything like those levels.

Giles doesn't go in for regrets but given the chance he'd like another run at that day. "It was a really good Galway team and really good forwards in particular," he adds.

Better

"They deserved it on the day. But that's one of the games you look back on and go 'I'd like to play that again.

"I'm not saying you'd win it, but you'd like to play better. Personally myself, I could have played better and the team could have played better. We didn't play well the first half but I think it was six points each at half-time.

"And you were saying to yourself we've been in that position before and you could improve in the second half and win a game like that. But we lost a man, he was sent off (Nigel Nestor), Ollie Murphy broke a finger and had to go off and some of us didn't perform at all."

Having scored a penalty against Mayo in 1996 and saw one saved in the decider against Cork in 1999, Giles pulled a penalty wide that day.

"There was five in it at the time, and if I'd have scored (the penalty) there was only two in it. And as bad as things were going we had often got out of those corners before with a draw or something.

"But it was a great Galway team who absolutely deserved their second All-Ireland. You would have liked to go into that game with more of an edge about us. You get a big win in a semi-final and everyone is telling you you're great and you're going to win the final.

"It's not that you believe them but you'd prefer if someone told you you were going to get hammered and you were no good. You'd go out with a bit of an edge. But that's the way it went.

"We had far more good days than bad days when you look back. We were very lucky to have the team we did, the manager we had the sponsors and the county board. So we won't complain about a bad day."

Pace

On reflection, perhaps Giles could see the end coming for that group of Meath players. He had slipped a disc in his back while on International Rules duty the previous year. John McDermott had come out of retirement for that 2001 season. Both sides fell off the pace in the years that followed.

Meath haven't been back in an All-Ireland final while Galway didn't win at HQ again until the Division 2 final of 2017.

These days, Giles busies himself with his physio practice and the Skryne underage set-up. He's had stints under Colm O'Rourke with the Meath U-21s and also worked under club mate Mick O'Dowd when he was in charge of the county seniors. But his main interest lies with the club.

This week when it was announced that they had won €25,000 for the club via a Kellogg's GAA Cúl Camps on-pack promotion. In the year that it has been, the cash injection could hardly be more welcome.

Last night he'll have caught up with his former team-mate O'Reilly. Those 19 years have slipped by in a blink of an eye.

"It's funny. You'd think you'd win an All Ireland with fellas and you'd run into them loads but there's some of them you don't see at all. But once you do, you catch up and chat away. But life moves on doesn't it?"