Saturday 22 October 2016

O'Reilly sees it in the Sars

Lucan veteran back to his best and can't wait to take on Dubs

Lucan Sarsfields’ Kevin O’Reilly will line out for the Dublin Bus/Herald
Dubs Stars against Dublin on Saturday in Stillorgan
Lucan Sarsfields’ Kevin O’Reilly will line out for the Dublin Bus/Herald Dubs Stars against Dublin on Saturday in Stillorgan

On a quiet day off the Malahide Road, you can still hear the whisper of the Donnycarney Roar.

It was a Sunday afternoon in 2007. Cody's Cats were in town. And they were expected to leave Parnell Park with the Division 1B National League points.

They looked to be well on their way. Then Kevin O'Reilly got the call. Dublin were attacking the Church End. He began to light candles.

He struck a gem from play and converted a free. Then, on 69 minutes, he cracked a penalty through the Cat Flap.

Kilkenny still led by one point. But in injury time, Kevin sent over the glorious equaliser. The place erupted.

It was a significant result for Dublin, and soon the whole country would be hearing all about it.

A RTÉ camera crew filmed Tommy Naughton outside the pavilion. "What seldom is wonderful," smiled Tommy.

Tommy was a brilliant manager of Dublin. He kept it simple. He made notable progress. And he did more than most to pave the way for the Dubs to eventually cross the Blue Sea under Dalo.

Kevin can still recall that afternoon when sports editors changed their pages to make Dublin's display the headline act.

These days, Kevin is busy in the city. He's a surveyor with Savills in Commercial Property.

And he's still making a priceless contribution to Lucan Sarsfields.

He was only 17 when he made his debut for the Lucan senior hurlers. And he became one of the most elegant artists in the Capital.

There are very few hurlers in Dublin who can match his ability. He could find a yard in a confession box, and land a jumbo jet on a matchstick.

But injury rang his door bell. He tore his cruciate ligament in 2007, and then came an Achilles problem.

He was back to his best in this season's Dublin Senior Hurling Championship. In the two quarter-final games against O'Toole's, he hit 26 points, 18 from the placed ball, including two sumptuous sidelines.

And he'll be hoping to rattle the garden gate at the home of Kilmacud Crokes in the annual Dubs Stars v Dublin clash on Saturday (12.30).

Maybe a good day at the Stillorgan dart board might again earn the county call.

He did well for the Dublin minors and U21s, and he played under Tommy Naughton and Anthony Daly for the seniors.

"Dublin hurling has made huge strides. Getting to All-Ireland semi-finals was a tremendous achievement.

"Now the aim has to be to get back to that level again. It will be an interesting year ahead," predicts Kevin.

"You'll have the buzz of Davy Fitzgerald and Donal Óg Cusack with Clare. That will add to it.

"And, in some ways, Clare are similar to Dublin in that they are trying to get back to the level which saw them win the All-Ireland."

Kevin's old pals, the black and amber, are also sure to be in the debate.

Growing up, Kevin marvelled at the craft of DJ. And then Henry.

He appreciates the devotion that made them the masters of their art. Lucan's 12th Lock is always humming with industry.

"We have over 100 teams now. People are doing great work."

Hurling was always his first love. He played football till he was U16.

In the U12 hurling ranks, he was a full-back. "I don't know what I was doing there!"

But ever since, he has played in attack. And what a handsome harvest he has reaped.

He'd love the Sars to take the big prize. They made one county final in 2013, losing by three points to Ballyboden St Enda's.

This year their road ended, as it has done so many times, at the semi-final stage.

"We had hoped to go a step further. We have been in about six or seven semi-finals at this stage.

"We'll keep at it. We know we are capable of doing it. But you need everything going for you.

"We had key injuries, and when that happens you are always going to be up against it.

"The Dublin Senior Hurling Championship is so competitive now. Cuala are such a powerhouse. St Jude's were in the last two Championship finals. Kilmacud are always there. And then Ballyboden have been strengthened by Dotsi O'Callaghan."

"But we'd love to get back to the final again, and have another pop at it. That's our aim."

And when it comes to taking aim, Kevin, like DJ and Henry, rarely misses the chimney pot.



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