Thursday 18 January 2018

Ballymun Dubs stars were 'destined for greatness'

12/9/16 Cathal Roche pictured at Ballymun Kickhams ground. Picture: Arthur Carron
12/9/16 Cathal Roche pictured at Ballymun Kickhams ground. Picture: Arthur Carron

The Ballymun quartet leading Dublin's charge for All-Ireland glory were always destined for something special, according to a man that knows them better than most.

Cathal Roche coached Dubs stars James McCarthy and Dean Rock all the way from aged 10-16 - and said the "star quality" was there from the start.

Philly McMahon and McCarthy were natural athletes, Rock would practice his free-taking until it got dark, and John Small was a leader, captaining teams at every age group.

"At under-13 training Dean Rock would stay back after and practice his frees. We weren't telling him to do that, that was coming from him, and probably his dad's influence as well," Mr Roche said.

Dean's father Barney is a legend among the Hill 16 faithful for his free-taking abilities.

"We'd be there for 20 minutes after training, waiting for Dean to finish up, wanting to get home to watch a match on the box," he added.

Scorer Rock, who is the top scorer in this year's All-Ireland championship, would get brought to training in Ballymun week-in week-out by Barney, travelling a 50km round trip from Garristown each time.

The hard yards paid dividends for the players, but also for the club and Ballymun community.

"We used to lose players to Na Fianna if it was anywhere near their catchment area, but now with the four lads here they're coming towards us a little.

"Whenever we have the juvenile awards at the end of the season, the kids adore them.

"Whenever they have the microphone in their hand, they're encourage the kids to listen to their coaches. The kids are just sitting there, slack-jawed with their eyes wide open - meeting the superstars," he added.

Fingers are crossed in Ballymun for another proud moment to add to the collection on Sunday.

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