This is supposed to be a weekly column about sport, so apologies in advance to those of you expecting to read about heroics on the rugby field or the soccer pitch or in the boxing ring.

Those stories are elsewhere on these pages but they won’t rest here, for this week anyway.

Instead this column will feature sports people along the way, but it is more about modern day Ireland than Irish endeavors on any sporting stage.

I’m writing the column late on a wet Monday night with the fire on beside me and two very well fed dogs vying for attention with an ageing Compaq computer that just about meets my modern media needs.

I did try to let the dogs out a few minutes ago, but they weren’t all that keen on the idea. The spitting rain and the dropping temperature tends to do that of a December Monday night, even to our canine friends.

They eventually went out to do whatever business it is a dog has to do before they retire for the night.  And they were rewarded on their return with what is a known as a treat in our house, a word they know so well that sometimes we have to spell it out just to confuse them.

Still with us? Yes? Thank you.

Well, there is a reason why I am telling you all this by the way. It’s not that I have any desire to have you think that I am a pet lover who idolizes his dogs – they actually belong to my wife and my daughter and all concerned see me as a soft touch, surprising as that may be to some of you.

I just want you to know that our dogs and our cats are safe and warm and well fed on this wet and miserable Monday night. As I am.

And we are the lucky ones because now I want to tell you about a chance encounter I had two Wednesdays ago on a bitterly cold November night.

Making my way from our office, just off Wexford Street, to meet an old friend of Meath GAA fame in O’Neill’s pub on Pearse Street, I happened across a young man not a stone’s throw from Dail Eireann on Kildare Street, seat of the Irish parliament.

I didn’t happen across him by chance. He stopped me in the street and asked me if I was Irish, a strange question you might say.

He wanted to talk to one of his own, and then proceeded to tell me that such behavior wasn’t normal but he was in dire need of cash to try and find a bed and some food for the night.

Those who cross Dublin streets regularly will know that you can become immune to such behavior.  There’s not a corner of our fair city that isn’t populated by beggars or homeless or both as our economy allegedly recovers.

And if you were to stop and talk to every one of them, your life would grind to a halt.

This kid was different though. There was something about him that did indeed stop me in my tracks and make me enquire after some more information about his circumstances.

He is 23, the same age as my eldest son Cillian. At 18, he had run away from a foster home in North Dublin in search of a better life in London. He never found it, drifting from one shelter to another as despair replaced the dream of a better life.

A month ago, or so he told me, he decided to come home, but at 23 years of age he is too old now for many of the services available to the homeless young in our capital.

Hostels don’t appeal to him. He claims there are too many addicts and too many needles in some of them to offer any sense of security and comfort.

So he spends his nights trying to scrape together enough money to get a safe roof over his head and a warm meal.

The kid could have been spinning me a yarn, but I doubted that enough to give him a few bob as we parted, me in search of a pint that seemed almost sinful and him in search of shelter.

I’ve thought about him many times since and did so again on Monday night as the hurlers of Westmeath, senior and under-21, distributed 100 meals to Dublin’s homeless outside Dunnes Stores on Grafton Street.

That gesture came about after a similar meeting between their under-21 team coach Adrian Moran and a young homeless man when Adrian was on a shopping trip to Dublin with his wife some weeks ago.

We may have met the same kid, I don’t know.

But I do know that Adrian got up off his arse and did something about it. He got the Westmeath players to give up a post-match meal and instead feed the homeless on Grafton Street with the aid of the Cairdeas charity.

I want to share their story with you this week. I want to salute them, praise them and back their appeal to make the public aware of the plight of the homeless all across our land.

The Celtic Tiger is recovering but it is not helping everyone. Those Westmeath hurlers helping the homeless on the streets of Dublin last Monday night highlighted that.

They should act now as an example to the rest of us. Me included. 

* Cathal Dervan is sports editor of the Irish Sun newspaper in Dublin, available online at