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Wednesday 20 June 2018

Leahy one of mun's own 'sons' now

Ballymun 'gunning' for old rivals Vincent's in Dublin battle of titans

Ballymun Kickhams forward Kevin Leahy whose side face reigning Dublin and Leinster champions, St Vincent’s, in Monday’s Dublin
SFC final at Parnell Park when they will challenge for the Clery Cup. Photo: Sportsfile
Ballymun Kickhams forward Kevin Leahy whose side face reigning Dublin and Leinster champions, St Vincent’s, in Monday’s Dublin SFC final at Parnell Park when they will challenge for the Clery Cup. Photo: Sportsfile

There's a passage in Philly McMahon's recently published memoir, The Choice, where he traces the demarcation between 'real' Ballymun and the blow-ins with whom they shared a line of their postal address.

"They built a wall to divide the two areas, as if being from Ballymun was something bad that you might catch off us if we got too close," he wrote.

"The 'poshie wall', we called it, because once you lived on the other side of it, you were a poshie."

Kevin Leahy can't claim residency of either side.

He's been part of Ballymun's attack for a decade now, won a Dublin SFC with them in 2012 and played in an All-Ireland final the following March.

But Leahy hails from Killester and played all of his underage football with Clontarf.

So in his first trip away with the team - a training week in Villamoura funded by the players themselves - he got a crash course in the local culture when he was paired to room with an 18 year-old Davey Byrne.

Very much a 'real' Ballymunner.

Acrimonious

"I was somehow seen as wise, or wiser than him anyway," Leahy laughs now.

"It was more through that when I got to know about the core of Ballymun. That was a great week rooming with Davey."

A vital one too in Leahy's acclimatisation to his new football environment.

In late 2005, he went through an acrimonious split with Clontarf that necessitated him sitting out a year of football before being allowed play for someone else.

Indeed, ge almost joined St Vincent's at one stage before gravitating to Páirc Ciceam.

"In my first session with Ballymun, I was getting slagged," he recalls.

"Once you were getting slagged you knew you were on the pig's back."

And that was it.

Leahy's acceptance was immediate and he's been part of the football scene of Ballymun Kickhams ever since.

That that span of time has yielded just one Dublin Championship sits uneasily with him.

"I don't think anybody in the club would disagree - either within the panel or within the club in general - we definitely have underachieved.

"Why? I'd love to put my finger on it. But we definitely have."

Last year, they looked like the best team in the Championship but a loss of discipline cost them in the semi-final against Vincent's.

The way Leahy saw it: "We didn't take our chances early in the game and paid the price in the end."

Their hefty Dublin contingent also looked heavy of leg and weary of mind at that stage, having endured an inter-county season that intruded into October.

This year, it's been different.

"The lads have sort of an in-built self-confidence from the three or four years with Dublin," Leahy points out.

"It's more that that rubs off on you, it's a collective self-confidence.

"No arrogance about them at all, just more they've genuine belief that if they stick to their strengths they'll dig out a result.

"They don't try and do things we thought they couldn't do, it's just more the sense of calm, reassurance and confidence that filters out to the rest of the group."

Of Vincent's, he notes with spectacular understatement: "We know each other well.

"There won't be much need to watch any video or anything."

"Even the league games between us, if we hadn't the Dublin lads it would still be hammer and tongs.

"I suppose it's like anything else, when a team gets to the top everybody wants to knock them off," Leahy adds.

"Obviously, they're gunning for us and we're gunning for them."

DUBLIN SFC/SHC FINALS: TICKET INFORMATION

The Dublin SHC (Saturday) and SFC (Monday) finals take place this weekend - both games are all-ticket (stand: €15, terrace: €15, OAP & Students: Purchase full price tickets and collect a rebate of €5 with valid ID at concession stile on match day); Juveniles: Free of charge in the terrace, stand: €5.

Parnell Pass: Members are entitled to free admission. Members must present their Pass for scanning at the designated turnstiles in Parnell Park. Tickets are available online at www.dublingaa.ie/tickets and Centra and Supervalu stores.

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