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Sunday 4 December 2016

Kevin McManamon: I still can't remember 2011 All Ireland final goal

St Jude's star says he still can't recall his 2011 All-Ireland final goal scoring heroics

Kevin McManamon, Dublin, after his side's victory in 2011
Kevin McManamon, Dublin, after his side's victory in 2011
Kevin McManamon
JIM GAVIN

IT'S incumbent upon any interview participant to claim - deadpan - that they weren't even remotely surprised that their impending opposition won their most recent match despite national/global expectation that they would, in fact, be beaten.

Kevin McManamon, though, was - by his own admission - "a bit surprised," Westmeath beat Meath two weeks back to take their spot in this Sunday's Leinster final.

The reason being that when he left the Hogan Stand to go to the Dublin dressing-room to prepare for the second Leinster semi-final, Meath were making large bales of hay while the sun shone in Croke Park.

"I probably left the stand with about 45 to 50 minutes gone in the match and I think Meath were seven, eight or nine points up at that stage," he recalls.

"So I have to admit that when I got brought off at that stage, when I heard people behind me shouting, 'Up Westmeath', I was a bit surprised.

jumped

"But look, people might have jumped into it thinking that Meath were a shoe-in to win that game, and Westmeath's experiences over the last few years would have stood to them, the likes of playing Division 1 football last year.

"I think they were kind of slowly waiting for us.

"I know they were kind of stumbled with one or two inconsistent games during the league, so I think it was a big performance from them. We'll see what happens."

Given their refusal to allow history to regurgitate for the umpteenth time against Meath, it's a little patronising to appraise Westmeath's contribution to Sunday's Leinster final in terms of the atmosphere they'll bring to a day that has, in the very recent past, lost some of its sheen due to Dublin's monopolisation of the post-match celebrations.

But still ... it won't do any harm either.

"I always love to take that all in on the way to the stadium on the team bus," says McManamon. "I suppose when the match starts you're so kind of entrenched in it that it's very hard to hear."

Unsurprisingly, McManamon - who has a Masters in Sports Psychology - can recalls a couple of times when the stadium has rocked so much, he's lost himself a little.

"It's probably only been four or five times that the crowd have stopped me in my own tracks in Croke Park over the years so you try not to let it affect you during games," he says.

Surprisingly, it's not on the occasion you immediately suspect when you think of McManamon's contributions to Dublin football in Croke Park.

"Particularly when Andy Moran scored against us for Mayo in 2013," he says.

"I had just got onto the pitch, I hadn't even touched the ball or anything and I just remember the noise that came out of it, I'd never heard anything like it. So that one.

"And the first time I played in front of a full house was against Donegal in 2011. After one or two points went over, particularly from our opponents, it was big, big noise.

"So they're the ones I remember but like you're aware of it and you can hear the chanting and that."

zone

But not when you scored the goal against Kerry in the All-Ireland 2011 final?

"No, no ... I still can't really remember it, to be honest with you," he insists.

"I have vague pictures in my head all right.

"But no, I was kind of in the zone, I suppose."

Of more immediate consequence, McManamon was first man off against Kildare and thus technically, the one most in danger of losing out to an in-form and presumably impatient Alan Brogan.

Or Paddy Andrews. Or Cormac Costello.

"I remember saying last year after the Leinster final, I'd a good game against Meath and I was saying there's a chance I won't play the quarter-final and people were laughing at me, but it's true," says McManamon of the weight Jim Gavin puts on the performances of his player between games.

"You have to perform week in week out and I think that's the only way to pick a team. In fairness to Jim, he says at the start of the year that's how I'm going to do it, that's how I'm going to pick the team, on form, and he's been consistent.

"I respect that, a lot of the players do, and it kind of adds that bit of pressure to perform on a Sunday morning when no one's watching just as much as when there's 40,000 or 50,000 people watching.

"There's only a few new personnel but I think individually players have looked at themselves and individually what they didn't do, particularly last summer in the semi-final.

"There's a lot more options there," he concludes.

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