Thursday 23 January 2020

'Experience will be key' for Anthony as thoughts turn to Leinster

Brendan Kirby of Thomas Davis in action against Ross McGarry of Ballyboden St Enda's
Brendan Kirby of Thomas Davis in action against Ross McGarry of Ballyboden St Enda's

For Ballyboden, there will be scant time to bask in the glow of a fourth Dublin football title.

That's partly because of the great expectations that go hand-in-hand with being a Dublin 'super-club' who are always chasing the ultimate.

And even more so because they've a short trip to Drogheda this Sunday, where Louth champions Newtown Blues will aim to roll out the banana skins instead of the red carpet.

Current boss Anthony Rainbow wasn't involved when Boden followed up their last Dublin success, in 2015, with Leinster and All-Ireland titles - but he's confident that their big-match know-how will help them through the coming week.

That experience "definitely" does help, the former Kildare defender ventured. "They've played in Leinster championships over the last couple of years and they've won Leinster titles and All-Ireland titles, so I think that experience is going to be key going into this week."

Two years into his tenure on the Firhouse Road, Rainbow appreciates the "level of expectation" that goes with the role.

But he added: "I think it's important you take control of those expectations as well and try not to look too far into them - because you need to take each step as it comes. I think we've done that perfectly well this year."


He had special praise for two players at either end of the age spectrum - Dublin U20 forward Ross McGarry and the club's dual talisman, Conal Keaney, who returned from a recent hamstring injury to earn his third SFC medal as a late sub.

"Ross McGarry was incredible," Rainbow enthused after his 0-4 haul. "If you look at our forward line, the likes of Collie Basquel, Ryan Basquel - a lot of people just seem to hone in on those two people all the time.

"But we've got Warren Egan, Ross McGarry, Alan Flood who came on, Sean Gibbons, Darren O'Reilly. They're all scoring players, all scoring threats, and not only that but when we don't have the ball their work-rate is very, very high.

"So even though Collie and Ryan might get all the headlines, we've another four forwards that will start, another two forwards that can come off the bench very, very easy and do a job very similar to the two boys. But they are incredible, you have to say."

And what of Keaney, whose previous incarnation as a Dublin county footballer criss-crossed with Rainbow's own marathon Kildare career?

"Conal pulled his hamstring in the Na Fianna match three weeks ago, so we're just trying to get him right," the Boden boss outlined.

"Another week under Conal's belt and he's going to be vital for us in the Leinster championship. Because again, he brings that experience from playing with Dublin and Ballyboden, not only with the football side of things but with the hurling side of things.

"He played in a Leinster club hurling final last year so to bring that experience alone into the campaign is vital for us.


"Conal Keaney is one of the biggest names in Dublin, in club football, in Ireland alone. He's a huge influence around the team and the guys really look up to him."

Keaney has been here before; but this is all-new terrain for McGarry.

"It's great to be a part of it," he beamed. "When they won it in 2015 and went all the way to the All-Ireland, it's something I said I really wanted to be a part of. Three, four years later, I'm delighted."

For Thomas Davis manager Paul Kelly, there was at least some consolation in defeat.

"It's been a great journey for the club, the last couple of years," Kelly acknowledged.

"And today is a great day. As I said to the lads in there, hopefully in a couple of weeks' time they can get together themselves and decide that they want to drive on again, to another level."

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