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Sunday 20 August 2017

'Crazy' Mac tally worries Brogan

Dub comrade and rival 'playing best football of his life'

Dublin's Kevin McManamon in action against Louth's Keith McLoughlin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Dublin's Kevin McManamon in action against Louth's Keith McLoughlin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

AT least this time, if Bernard Brogan is left facing a semi-final onslaught, it can't be classified as an ambush.

Brogan and his St Oliver Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh team-mates have been forewarned by the prolific threat of Kevin McManamon, whose headline-grabbing heroics earlier this month propelled St Jude's into the last-four of the Dublin SFC.

For so long Dublin's perennial super-sub, McManamon is most assuredly the main man of Tymon Park and this was copperfastened by his stunning 3-5 haul - all bar one point from play - in their quarter-final blitz of St Brigid's.

TREMOR

On the same weekend, Plunkett's were causing their own capital tremor by toppling the 2012 champions and last year's beaten finalists, Ballymun.

Thus, two bridesmaid clubs have have both threatened to land that tantalising county title breakthrough in recent years will meet in Saturday's opening Dublin SFC semi-final at Parnell Park (throw-in 3.30).

Last week, McManamon's more sustained contribution on the inter-county front - he started three of Dublin's five SFC outings this year - was recognised by the All Star selectors. Cue a second nomination, following on from 2011 when his goalscoring exploits off the bench proved central to All-Ireland victory over Kerry.

"He's playing the best football of his life. You saw it in the club game - 3-5 or something crazy - and he's an unbelievable footballer," says Bernard Brogan who, curiously, wasn't nominated for the first time since 2008.

"We have to challenge him now in the club championship, so I'm not looking forward to that. But no, massively delighted for him, well deserved, because we wouldn't have won probably either All-Ireland without him ... look, in fairness to the Dublin fans, he's one of the heroes of the Hill. There's no question, people love him."

For both Parnell protagonists, that precious maiden county title still awaits. Jude's are through to their third semi-final on the bounce, having previously reached the 2009 decider, while Plunkett's suffered county final heartbreak in '08 and '11.

Some stars struggle with the transition to club fare after a gut-wrenching conclusion to the inter-county season - but Brogan has relished the change of scenery this autumn after the "biggest hurt" of his football career.

"We panicked in the forwards a bit and a few of us missed opportunities we wouldn't usually miss," he says, harking back to that shock-and-awe All-Ireland semi-final against Donegal.

Panicked

"That's why it was great to go out and win with the club against Ballymun. It was a similar-type game (to Dublin/Donegal), they were really hot favourites but we worked really hard.

"We got a similar-type goal and they panicked a bit. In a two-horse race, normally it's who works harder wins."

He continues: "It's been great to go back to the club.

"Sometimes it's hard at the end of the year to come back and invest everything that you need to give, but this year we've really given it a good lash.

"Now we've Jude's, who have a really good record (of reaching semi-finals) ... they've actually knocked us out a couple of times along the way.

"So we won't be taking it lightly."

Especially with Kevin Mac around.

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