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'Jim and Dessie are cut from same cloth'

Tyrone native Quinn 'learned so much' from playing under Farrell

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Paddy Quinn in action for Dublin during the O’Byrne Cup final against Kildare at Parnell Park in 2013. Photo: Sportsfile

Paddy Quinn in action for Dublin during the O’Byrne Cup final against Kildare at Parnell Park in 2013. Photo: Sportsfile

Dessie Farrell. Pics: Sportsfile

Dessie Farrell. Pics: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

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Paddy Quinn in action for Dublin during the O’Byrne Cup final against Kildare at Parnell Park in 2013. Photo: Sportsfile

Paddy Quinn's father describes him as a 'gypsy footballer,' such have been his nomadic migrations in his chosen sport.

In 2004, he played for London against Dublin in an All-Ireland SFC qualifier in Parnell Park.

Nine years later, Quinn spotted the jersey he wore that day on Declan O'Mahony's back as they took part in one of the early-morning training sessions at the very beginning of Jim Gavin's Dublin reign.

As if being the Tyrone man who never represented his native county at any level but played senior with Dublin at the age of 31 didn't make Paddy Quinn's story unique enough, he penned an interesting epilogue last year.

Relevant too in the context of his native county's Division 1 clash with his adopted home in Omagh this Sunday.

When last we spoke, Quinn had rejoined his native Derrylaughan, having given the best part of a decade to Na Fianna.

That service was distinguished enough that despite the very obvious fact that he came from Tyrone, Quinn was called into Gavin's maiden Dublin senior panel.

The forward line for Gavin's first league match as Dublin manager against Cork in Croke Park on February 2, 2013 read: Paul Flynn, Diarmuid Connolly, Paddy Quinn, Bernard Brogan, Paul Mannion, Paddy Andrews.

The dream died after two further appearances.

But Quinn remained a key member of a stagnant Na Fianna team until 2017, when he returned to Derrylaughan, albeit only for football purposes.

After two years of commuting from the northside of Dublin to the shore of Lough Neagh in east Tyrone, he rejoined to Na Fianna.

His ambitions were modest.

In the absence of any volunteers to manage the club's senior 2 team, Quinn concluded he might as well.

Then, shy on numbers last summer, he agreed to tog out for the seniors 1s in an away Dublin AFL Division 1 game against Cuala.

He did well enough that Dessie Farrell, then Na Fianna manager, suggested they make it a permanent arrangement.

Eleven years after he joined Na Fianna - a season after Farrell's own retirement from playing - Quinn came on for the Glasnevin club in their extra-time Dublin SFC1 quarter-final defeat to eventual champions, Ballyboden St Enda's.

So Quinn, who owns a chartered accountants firm based on Glasnevin's Botanic Avenue, now also has the distinction of being the only Tyrone man to play under both Jim Gavin and Dessie Farrell.

The only 'non-native' in the Na Fianna squad that night, just as he was in Gavin's first Dublin panel.

"I found him a really impressive guy, to be honest. Cut from the same cloth as Jim Gavin in many ways," he says of Farrell.

"He's really good one-to-one, at meeting fellas and getting to know their circumstances and taking the time out to do that.

"It was never just a tick the box exercise with him. He's genuine. And that resonates with fellas."

Quinn was at the meeting Farrell called at the end of November to outline his plans for his intended second year with Na Fianna.

Then, just a couple of days later when Jim Gavin dropped the nuclear bombshell of his resignation as Dublin manager, Quinn immediately assumed he'd never see them come to fruition.

He was in the room that same week again when Farrell brought the Na Fianna squad together one last time to wish them well for the future.

"He made a good connection with the players," Quinn recalls.

"Just an honest sort of guy. You know it's not put on. It's not contrived in any way.

"It's all for the benefit of the player. That resonates with fellas. And what happens is when he asks you to do something, you want to do it.

"And you want to give more of yourself for him.

Impressive

"I actually took so much learning out of him, even from the couple of months I was there (in the Na Fianna senior squad).

"And not just football. From a life and business perspective.

"He'd make assertions and then follow through on them. Whereas other fellas would say 'we'll do this' or 'we'll do that' and it would never get done.

"He always followed up on everything. And I thought that was really impressive."

Naturally, Farrell's inclination to forge meaningful relationships with his new Dublin players was tested by the lateness of his appointment.

"That would have been difficult," Quinnn notes.

"Because Dessie is all about getting to know the person. About setting goals and objectives.

"And that really shapes then how the training goes and where the team is headed.

"You wouldn't get around to everyone and all of a sudden, you'd be playing Kerry in the league. So I'd say he's just bedding in that part of it now."

But the thing that struck Quinn most about Farrell was just how much he reminded him of Gavin.

"It's amazing how similar they are," he stresses.

"Just their demeanour on the sideline and everything. Dessie's not one to get rattled and neither is Jim.

"They both have pedigree, having won an All-Ireland in '95. They probably think themselves they're very different from one another.

"But I found them very similar," Quinn adds, "As managers and as people too.

"I thought it was just uncanny really."