dully still delights in dublin away days
Dubs legend Duff impressed by Gavin
KIERAN Duff loves the away days.
Following the Dubs on the road. It takes him back to his time as a player.
The team bus would be heading for the ground and the street would be full of Dubs….enjoying themselves.
Soaking up the atmosphere and looking forward to the show.
The banter of the Blues.
Kieran, or his colleagues, couldn't take any part in that. They had to keep their eye on the ball.
Now, with the boots up in the attic, things are different.
Kieran is very much part of the Hill 16 on Tour.
"When we were playing, we'd all be looking out at the window of the coach at all the supporters walking to the game and outside the pub enjoying themselves," recalls Kieran.
"But now as the years have moved on and we have finished playing, we are fans ourselves following the team.
"And it's great to be in a position to do that. I especially like going to the away matches, and heading to places like Killarney and Castlebar or wherever.
"I love the travelling. Going down to watch the games and maybe making a weekend out of it."
Those trips are confined to the National League these days. Gone is the era when the Dublin Armada would be on the move come Championship time.
"It's out of Dublin's hands. They have to play where they are told to play.
"But from the Dublin supporters point of view, they'd love to travel down the country and make an occasion out of it and have a bit of fun as they have often done in the past.
"But at the end of the day, Dublin will play wherever they are asked to play, so if they are told to play in Croke Park, that's what they have to do."
Next Saturday night, Kieran will be heading to HQ to see Dublin tackle Derry in Division 1 of the Allianz Football League.
Two points in the Dublin kitty would be more than valuable. If they can them, Dublin will move to second in the table, at least overnight.
The four teams presently above them all play on Sunday - Cork against Mayo and Kerry v Monaghan.
So it will be a telling weekend as the race for a top four semi-final spot heats up.
Dublin's last game is away to Monaghan, so victory against Derry would certainly be welcome as the final bend approaches.
Derry have worries of their own - at the other end of the table. Their only point has come from a draw away to Tyrone.
They lost away to Donegal, home to Kerry, home to Mayo and away to Monaghan.
Dublin lost their opening tie in Cork before defeating Donegal at home, losing away to Kerry, drawing with Tyrone in Croke Park and beating Mayo in Castlebar.
Kieran is very impressed with the Dubs boss, Jim Gavin.
"Jim is doing a great job. He had a fantastic first year.
"In his second season, Dublin got to the All-Ireland semi-final against Donegal. It could have gone our way, but sometimes things go against you.
"You always need that bit of luck, the bounce of the ball. But Jim and Dublin will be the better of that defeat.
"You could say it was their first big defeat in two years, so hopefully we'll get back on track this summer."
In the meantime, there are places to cement in the first fifteen.
And Kieran insists that the League is the ideal place for doing that.
"It's very beneficial to bring young players in and give them the experience of playing for the Dubs in Croke Park.
"That is really invaluable. Getting used to the big venue and the wide open spaces.
"And then there's the advantage of travelling to provincial grounds and battling to get a result on small and tighter pitches. That's part of the learning curve as well."
Kieran's own dream of wearing the Dublin jersey began with Dublin's All-Ireland victory in 1974.
The thronged Hill. Big Brian Mullins. Dead-shot Jimmy Keaveney. Paddy Cullen's save.
Kieran, nor any of his friends, had ever seen the likes of Heffo's Army.
He was to win the All-Ireland himself, and he was to become a decorated All-Star.
The fork in the road nearly took him elsewhere. He was an accomplished soccer player.
He was born and raised in Balheary, opposite Swords Celtic.
He earned a trial at Manchester United. Mr Bojangles, Ron Atkinson, was the manager.
Players there at the time included Kevin Moran, Bryan Robson, Ray Wilkins and Paul McGrath. Paul couldn't understand how fit Kieran was, but Dublin had just won the National League.
Kieran enjoyed the experience, but he'll always love the scent at Lawless Memorial Park.
He was only 16 when he made his senior debut with the club. He'll always consider it a privilege to have played with Harry Keegan, the King of the Rossi's.
Fingallians won Division 1 of the League, and they were never too far away in the Championship.
In latter years, he became part of Pillar Caffrey's Dublin management team. He relished every moment.
And now, sipping a Cidona, Kieran is asked about a strike that would have done justice to anybody he met in his Old Trafford days.
It was the National League final against Kerry in 1987. Many judges felt it should have been 'Goal of the Season.'
"It's always nice to get a goal against Kerry. And it's always nice to beat them too," he smiles.
"It was an important goal at the time. It was the first score of the game for us, and I think we won by a goal in the end.
"It's great to score a goal at anytime for Dublin. Joe (McNally) made it for me. He sent the ball over and I just had a crack, and thankfully it flew in."
Paul Flynn learned much from observing the way Kieran addressed the ball.
Kieran had spotted his potential early. Last Christmas, he presented Paul with his All-Star award, his fourth in-a-row.
Flynner became the first Dublin footballer to collect four All-Stars in succession.
It was a night of nights. The Fins faithful arrived to pay homage…….to two superstars.
And on the busy streets of Swords, there will only be ever one Dully............ the Flying Finn.