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Sunday 20 August 2017

Curran takes over Plunkett's hotseat with all eyes on the big one

Plunkett’s boss Paul Curran Picture: Sportsfile
Plunkett’s boss Paul Curran Picture: Sportsfile

Paul Curran has returned to club management in the capital, setting his sights on a first Dublin Senior Football Championship for St Oliver Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh.

The legendary Sky Blue is taking over the Plunkett's hotseat after completing a two-season stint with Clann na nGael in Roscommon.

He knows it's a daunting ask, trying to lead the Navan Road outfit to that elusive holy grail of a maiden county title, but he was won over by "just the challenge of it".

"They are a club that has been knocking on the door a couple of times," Curran told The Herald. "They have never won it before, but they have a lot of quality players. I just like the set-up there - and I'm looking forward to getting into it in January."

The last decade has been a tale of near-misses incorporating three Dublin SFC final defeats for Plunkett's - perhaps most cruelly of all to Kilmacud Crokes in 2008.

Bernard Brogan amassed 0-10 in that year's replay, a staggering seven from play, but they were denied by a controversial Crokes goal and lost by 3-6 to 0-13.

They went on to lose another brace of close-fought deciders - to St Brigid's by two points in 2011 and St Vincent's by just one in 2014.

And Vincent's remain the yardstick as Curran attempts to replicate his epic run of 2012. That year he managed Ballymun Kickhams to the Dublin SFC summit en route to winning Leinster and reaching an All-Ireland club final the following March.

But Vins have claimed three of the next four Dublin and Leinster titles. Curran saw them ease to further provincial glory again Rhode, last Sunday, and they are his favourites for the All-Ireland.

"I've watched them a couple of times this year and I've come out of grounds with people saying, 'They're on the slide, not as good as they were.' And then they are Leinster champions again.

"They kept their best performance for Sunday, which shows they are able to turn it on when they need to.

"So they are the team to beat, without doubt, and I would think - by the time anyone plays them in the Dublin championship next year - they could be All-Ireland champions again."

The flip side is that Plunkett's new boss has a track record of breakthrough successes. Texaco Footballer of the Year after Dublin's 1995 All-Ireland win, Curran the manager helped Ballymun end a 27-year county title famine in 2012 while Clann's Roscommon SFC victory in 2015 was their first in 19 years.

Now the Herald columnist hopes to engineer another big push from a Plunkett's team that fell to Castleknock in the first round of the Dublin SFC last April, but recovered to claim the SFC 'B' title with victory over Cuala in last month's final. Pat McDonagh led them to that success, and to the 2014 county final.

His successor cites a crop of talented minor graduates - but he will be reliant on the enduring class of the Brogan brothers, Alan and Bernard.

"Alan is back - he's part of the furniture there. Like everything else, age is catching up on us all but in football terms the window is still open," Curran concluded.

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