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Friday 19 October 2018

'Dublin there to be beaten' says Player of the Month Comer

CONFIDENT: Galway footballer Damien Comer confirmed as the PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month for April. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
CONFIDENT: Galway footballer Damien Comer confirmed as the PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month for April. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Two cracks at Dublin and a Footballer of the Month award later and Damien Comer is suitably familiar with Jim Gavin's serial winners to offer an educated appraisal.

"They're a great team and if you stand back and admire them they'll show you how good they are," he says.

But," Comer adds, "they're there to be beaten. Monaghan beat them the week before we drew with them in Pearse Stadium and we probably had chances to beat them in Croker as well.

"So they're there for the taking but you can't stand back and admire them."

Both in Salthill, when the teams drew, and the League final in Croke Park, Galway mixed aggression with cuteness, a pre-requisite according to Comer.

"If you're not physically up to it and not willing to make the early tackles, it will come against you," he stresses.

"But the mindset too...if you don't believe you can beat them and go in with a false mindset of trying to get close to them or keep them within six or eight points - it's a waste of time."

Comer's selection as the April Footballer of the Month, revealed yesterday at the Dublin headquarters of the scheme's sponsors, PwC, is at least mildly surprising.

Struggled

Galway's captain was their outstanding player throughout a hugely impressive League Division 1 campaign, starting six of their seven Division 1 games, scoring in all but their victory over Kerry in Tralee and amassing a personal tally of 1-11.

He also took the fight gamely to Dublin in the League final, scored 0-3 and was fouled for three converted frees in the first half, as three different markers struggled against his potent blend of brawn and cunning.

The other nominees were Dublin pair, Ciarán Kilkenny and Brian Fenton, and while Comer's claims were probably stronger than the latter, Kilkenny's body of spring work was hugely impressive.

The April award, the first of six this year, has generally served as a de facto Player of the league .

The winner is decided by a vote of players by text through the GPA, a method by which Dublin players have outinely come out the wrong side in the past.

In the five seasons they have been crowned League champions under Gavin in the past six seasons, only once has a Dublin player won the April award - Kilkenny in 2016.

In 2014, Mark Lynch was the recipient after Derry made the League final, wherein they lost to Dublin by 15 points.

A year later, Senan Kilbride, won the corresponding award for his performances in Roscommon's promotion from Division 3, despite Dublin beating Cork by 11 points in that month's Division 1 decider.

There was no gong for April in 2013, meaning London's Mark Gottsche picked up the year's first in May while the same sequence of events saw Paul Broderick win the first monthly award under the new sponsors last May.

The same player text vote system is used to determine the All Stars Footballer of the Year award, won just once by a Dublin player in the last three seasons where they have finished as All-Ireland champions.

Last year, Andy Moran was chosen ahead of Stephen Cluxton and James McCarthy.

In 2016, Lee Keegan was selected by his peers, who deemed his claims stronger that those of fellow nominees, Fenton and Kilkenny.

Preferred

The last Dublin player to win the award, Jack McCaffrey in 2015, could be said to have benefited from a lack of non-Dublin alternatives, preferred in the 2015 player's vote to fellow shortlisters, Philly McMahon and Bernard Brogan.

"I think we can win an All-Ireland," added Comer when asked about Galway's prospects for the rest of an already-succesful season.

"Honestly, I wouldn't be playing football if I didn't think we could win an All-Ireland.

"I think the form that we've shown in the league can prove that, that we can go the distance with the big teams.

"Whether it happens this year..hopefully we'll have an All-Ireland by the end of my career anyway."

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