Saturday 16 December 2017

'I want to be in parade on final day'

McManamon determined to peak later in summer this year

Kevin McManamon celebrates after scoring Dublin’s third goal during the All-Ireland SFC semi-final replay against Mayo last September. Photo: Sportsfile
Kevin McManamon celebrates after scoring Dublin’s third goal during the All-Ireland SFC semi-final replay against Mayo last September. Photo: Sportsfile
At the launch of the 2016 Allianz Football Leagues were Dublin’s Kevin McManamon and Kerry’s Kieran Donaghy. Allianz and the GAA recently announced a five-year extension of their sponsorship. This Saturday night Division 1 champions Dublin face Kerry under lights in Croke Park. Photo: Sportsfile

When you've three All-Ireland medals, one just freshly minted last month, January and motivation may not be compatible.

For Kevin McManamon it's both glaringly simple and strikingly understandable.

"It's a big bullseye for me," he shrugs, clearly aware that this part of the conversation was inevitable and given the frequency with which the issue arises, jarringly happy to address it.

"I want to do something that I've never done before and that's be a big player for 70 minutes, rather than what I've become accustomed to or what management have decided for me."


So it's your goal to be in the parade on All-Ireland final day in September?


Simple as that?

"I like a challenge," McManamon continues, obviously mindful of the snaking queue forming for the jerseys numbered 10 to 15 in the Dublin team for 2016.

"You've got your renowned starters every year and I'd always love to get one of their spots.

"It would be a nice little feather in the cap if you could get in ahead of the guys who are going to be seen as the greats.

"It's a sticky forward line (to get into) but yeah, I like a challenge."

He has, in the past, used the O'Byrne Cup to notify management of his suitability for League fare, the aim of which being convincing them of his summer worthiness.

An operation on a shoulder injury suffered in a challenge match in Breffni Park in November 2014 and carried right through last year has deprived McManamon of that particular opportunity.

Though as he eludes, after seven years of seniordom and with such a recurring arc of activity as each season has progressed, maybe an early reintroduction is best avoided.

"It's just not for me this year," he points out.

"I need to find a different avenue this year of how to get something out of myself because trying to deliver a little more in the last two or three months of the year is something I would be looking to do."

"Circumstances have decided as well," McManamon adds.

"Players playing better than me in the All-Ireland series. But there's no doubt that that's the goal."

"I get on well with Jim and he'll always listen to your opinion and he'll always trash it out with you.

"I have said it to him and I would feel the solution is down to my application. It's down to me playing well in training in August and September, which I haven't done over the years.

"I think sometimes it's a bit lazy to say 'the reason he's not starting me is because I make an impact (off the bench).'


"That's not the case. I feel I'm in control of it."

"The tag is getting a bit boring at this stage," he adds. "But if that's how people want to sell it - great."

He recalls last season when, after starting each of Dublin's successful Leinster SFC stroll in the garden, he lost his starting spot to Paddy Andrews.

"I wasn't as slick against Westmeath in the Leinster final," McManamon admits.

"I had a tough training game a week or two after.

"That's what happened to me. It would have been nice…had I played in the Fermanagh game, it might have been a different story but look, that's what happens."

"You're just always kept on your toes. I always get asked about it and I never think about it.

"It just comes with the territory. If I'm told to do a job off the bench, I'll do it.

"It's just part of being a Dublin footballer."

Another part of being a Dublin footballer these past five years is playing your home League matches in Croke Park.

McManamon has personal experience of being cowed by the stadium's big day atmosphere when he made his Championship debut against Wexford in 2010 but by the time the following summer came around, he had, though familiarity, conquered his Croker-itis.

"It's nice to be able to play against the big teams," McManamon notes.

"It's something I found very difficult - when I started my career - was to play in Croke Park.

"I found it a little daunting. Particularly in 2010. I didn't deal with the pressure very well. I was very nervous.

"I learned how to deal with it and by 2011, I think I got five games in Croker in 2011 and that was it then.

"That was it banished.

"That was the monkey off my back. And I learned how to embrace Croke Park rather than have any edge of doubt or worry in my game, like I had in 2010."

"All I wanted at that point was to play a Championship match for Dublin. So I could have one up on my Da. All I ever wanted was to play for Dublin.

"It's amazing. It was just overwhelming on the day.

"I had 50,000 people shouting at me and it was a sticky day.

"We were playing Wexford here on the my debut and I was taken off at half-time because I didn't perform. I just wasn't myself.

"I didn't feel loose. It was just nerves overtook me and negative thoughts. Luckily, I've learned how to deal with it."

The League, as McManamon stresses, has "always been very important" to Dublin. It's just that only lately have they cracked the intention of doing well in it.

Three successes in the past three years tells its own story.


"I joined in 2010 and when we do well in the League, we tend to do well in the Championship," he reckons.

"It's a big focus. And the one thing…we try and learn on the training field that it's all about winning games.

"And when you try and put that pressure on yourself, you have a better chance of winning."

"It's been our policy to try and win every game. I know some people try and use it as a learning (process) but that's not what we do in Dublin."

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