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Less science and bit more fun - Hackett reveals secret to Ballymun's success

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Ballymun Kickhams goalkeeper Evan Comerford and his manager Brendan Hackett celebrate

Ballymun Kickhams goalkeeper Evan Comerford and his manager Brendan Hackett celebrate

SPORTSFILE

Ballymun Kickhams goalkeeper Evan Comerford and his manager Brendan Hackett celebrate

In his third season, after two years of gnawing disappointment, Brendan Hackett had finally seen it all come together for Ballymun.

His six county stars in perfect harmony with his club stalwarts, young and old.

Hackett knows what it's like to get his cohort of marquee Dublin footballers back in September, and half-busted.

At times, the accusation of under-achievement has been levelled at them.

"Yeah, but the county have got the best out of those players," Hackett stressed after yesterday's tour de force by Messrs McCarthy, Small et al.

"Declan Small (their late chairman and father of John and Paddy) said to me when I met him the first day, 'Those guys that you see in July and August are going to be spent by the time they get back to you in September.' And they were very prophetic words.

"This year they've been part of the club, they've been part of the club for the last number of months and we've built up a great club spirit.

"It's a line I said on the TV, probably less science and a bit more fun. No long meetings, no long video analysis, we just played football and we had great fun all summer."

This one-time manager of Longford, Offaly and Westmeath expanded: "Look, I've been both sides. I've been a county manager, I've been a club manager and I see certain advantages for county managers. You get to see a championship.

"The fellas who are knocked out early on, you're bringing them in. And the fellas who are in the latter stages, Dessie Farrell has had a great view of who's in form at the moment.

"I mean, I know who I'd be taking into a county panel after watching the last number of weeks. Some of the younger players have really stood up."

Asked to elaborate, Hackett laughed: "I don't want to give him any more! But yeah, there were some. I thought Darragh Conlon was superb today and Leon Young, Carl Keating. Those three are future players. Cameron McCormack, Aaron Elliott - all fine players."

For Ballymun, the only anti-climax is that a first county title since 2012 will not be followed by a shot at Leinster or beyond. Their 2013 All-Ireland final defeat, to St Brigid's Kiltoom, is an itch that must remain unscratched because of the pandemic.

Or maybe not - could their be a belated provincial and All-Ireland club series in the New Year?

"I heard something on the radio coming in," said Hackett, "that a few clubs are starting to make noise about maybe January or February you could run it off fairly quickly.

"In the early part of the championship there was a game every 10 days. But then people are saying that players need a break too, so what do you do? But yeah, it would be lovely to play.

Test

"The way we're playing now I'd love to test ourselves out against the clubs from other counties and provinces if we got that far."

Meanwhile, for the last manager to mastermind a Leinster club football title, this was a salutary reminder that retaining your Dublin crown is usually harder than winning it in the first place.

"To go back to back in any county is hard - unless you're a Sarsfields or a Moorefield or a Corofin! But Dublin is extremely hard," admitted Anthony Rainbow.

"We've put a huge amount of work in over the last three years since I've come in here. The fact that we've been in the last two finals in a row is a credit to the players."

The former Kildare star admitted their scoreless second quarter display "really let us down" and then on the restart, when they were playing a lot better, "I think we had six or seven shots and we just couldn't score. Our scoring efficiency was just way down. It just wasn't happening for us today. You have days like that."

Rainbow intends to carry on for a fourth season. "I definitely do," he concluded. "Look, I've to sit down with the chairman and see what direction they want to go in, but I'm hoping to stay on."