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Saturday 10 December 2016

Chasing consistency

Kevin McManamon is looking forward to a long summer in a blue jersey, writes Mark Corcoran

Kevin McManamon is a man for the big moment.

Against Kerry in the 2011 All-Ireland final, Dublin were trailing by four points with seven minutes to go. McManamon received a pass from Alan Brogan, skipped past Declan O'Sullivan and slotted the ball into the Hill 16 net.

"McManamon dodging, McManamon scoring! Kevin McManamon has kicked a beauty." RTE commentator Ger Canning could hardly hide his excitement.

"He has made a difference in the semi-final and now he has made a difference in the final itself."

The St Jude's clubman made a big difference in that final. He turned the game in Dublin's favour and created the platform for Stephen Cluxton to kick the winning score.

Fast-forward two seasons and again he was a goalscoring hero for Dublin against Kerry, this time in the All-Ireland semi-final.

With two minutes to go the game was tied. Winning a breaking ball in the middle of the field, he raced through the heart of the Kerry defence and floated the ball over goalkeeper Brendan Kealy and into the net. The Dubs were on their way to another final. Once again Dublin fans were tipping their caps to McManamon.

Escape

"It is something I will probably never escape," says McManamon, speaking about the 2011 final goal. "It was a great thing. But I have put it behind me. It was four years ago. I was a completely different type of player. I was a completely different type of bloke."

Now in his fifth season in the Dublin squad, McManamon says he spends little time reflecting on the great moments he has enjoyed in a blue jersey. When the day comes that he must call time on his career, he hopes to be remembered as a great Dublin attacker rather than for a particular goal in one game.

"Those two goals were just moments. I'm not really chasing moments. I'm chasing performances. Consistency is the big thing for me. It's probably the reason I haven't started as many Championship games as I would have liked. When people look back at my career I would like them to remember me for good performances rather than just moments."

Performance

McManamon started Dublin's League final victory over Cork, putting in a memorable performance. Though he scored only 0-1, he terrorised the Rebel defence from start to finish. He says that while the team enjoyed winning the League final, their third such victory in three years, it wasn't long until the focus had shifted to the next challenge.

"We enjoyed the Sunday night and just parked it then. You have to try and keep your head down and put the blinkers on. You can't get carried away.

"This time last year we were sitting pretty after a big winning margin in the League final and we ended up losing in the All-Ireland semi-final. That felt like an unsuccessful year for us. At the end of the day the League is the League. It's all about trying to win an All-Ireland for Dublin this year."

Dublin's 2014 Championship campaign was ultimately derailed by Donegal in August. While McManamon says that Dublin have put the defeat behind them, it is clear from the team's performances throughout the League that much work has been done to create new tactical options to combat blanket defenses.

"We were probably a little bit rigid in our tactics that day and they were able to exploit it - particularly with the couple of goals from kick-outs. We were given a game plan that we didn't stick to for 70 minutes. Had we done that we might have won the game. But it just didn't happen. You learn your lesson and you get on with it."

memory

With that memory firmly consigned to the past it is time to switch attention to Championship 2015. So what will constitute as a successful season for Dublin this year?

"It's a dangerous question to answer. The first thing you have to get right is yourself and your own performances. No matter what happens at the end of the year, you might be able to find some sense of satisfaction if you can get good performances out of yourself.

"But people are only going to be happy if the team wins an All-Ireland title. That adds a bit of pressure. After winning two All-Irelands and three League titles we know that we are definitely in the top four teams in the country. But that means that at the end of the year three teams will be disappointed. We just hope we won't be one of those teams."

The Hill can only hope too.

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