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Sunday 11 December 2016

Kevin McManamon: 'I want to start every game for the Dubs next season'

Super-sub McManamon aims to start the last game next year

Kevin McManamon
Kevin McManamon

HOW do you measure one All-Ireland against another?

 For Kevin McManamon, 2011 will always be extra-special - partly because it was the first, partly because of his iconic role in its deliverance.

Yet last Sunday week was special for another reason. Redemption: the satisfaction that comes with proving yourself all over again.

The most celebrated super-sub since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is in the North Wall Quay offices of Dublin sponsor AIG, reliving their third All-Ireland in five seasons.

The celebratory "madness" is over; he and his Sky Blue colleagues are "back the bunker now for the club championship", with St Jude's squaring up to St Brigid's in O'Toole Park tomorrow (5pm).

But the memories of vanquishing Kerry in the rain are still fresh. "It had that bit of sweetness," McManamon reflects. "We had the real, real downer last year when we were really built up, whereas 2013 we were never really favourites, I suppose.

"It's nice to … maybe that bit of redemption from last year. To compare them, I wouldn't really. I suppose the first one was very, very special for all of us. Personally as well. I don't think it ever reached the heights of 2011 but, no, it was very nice - a rainy day, to win an ugly one was nice."

Kevin Mac was emotional at the final whistle because, well, that's just the way he is.

"It is more than a game for me," he explains. "It's a lifestyle, nine months of putting everything you have, and I try to get the best out of myself. So, yeah, it was emotional - and I'd good reason."

Redemption is his way of citing the game that dare not speak its name: last year's Donegal ambush.

After this year's final, James McCarthy recalled "the slurry thrown at us" afterwards, "people calling us cowards and chokers and bottlers." McManamon didn't have that sense of being demeaned but quickly clarifies: "I don't try and listen to it. I know maybe what he's getting at, and we do have guys that like the negatives and using it.

"I try and just stay away from it," he expands. "I remember the Ó Sé brothers talking about how they used to love when someone would say something bad about them, and they'd use it - and no better men to do it. And I'd say 'Macker' would be of that ilk.

"But I'd be motivated from a different way. I think what last year was ... we were literally built up to be so good, and I think a lot of us knew that we weren't ever that good.

"I remember reading something about Michael Darragh (Macauley) being this 'Hercules warrior' running through the middle of the park, and I started laughing and said 'Mick, did you read that?' And he lied and said 'No'. I remember reading it and I just said 'How can anyone 'big' us up to be that good after one All-Ireland and a Leinster?

"But, sure enough, we were built up and we had the fall."

AMBITION

Now that he has three Celtic Crosses in the pocket, all off the bench, he is asked if winning an All-Ireland as a starter is his next big ambition?

"It (the super-sub tag) has gotten a little bit weathered at this stage, a bit boring," he muses. "I want to start as much as I can but it's nearly become part of my identity to be that guy that comes off the bench or one of those six guys.

"I'd love top start as much as I can and next year I'm planning on starting the last game of the year . I plan on starting the knockout games but sometimes, the way the year goes, Jim (Gavin) has a different plan for me and there's not a huge amount I can do about it. But I do try and funnel whatever feelings I have into the team."

 

 

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