Saturday 16 December 2017

Mun built for a grand finale

GIVEN the impressive extent to which Dublin clubs have thrived in Leinster over the past decade, it's not pushing the boundaries to expect the capital's kingpins to press for provincial honours and so Ballymun Kickhams have fulfilled both their duty and ambition by qualifying for Sunday's final with Portlaoise in Mullingar.

That they would put their complete efforts into turning a great season into a truly brilliant one was, according to team trainer Ken Robinson, an automatic development.

"We weren't feeling any obligation," he stressed in Croke Park yesterday at Leinster's launch of the AIB club finals.


"Because the great thing about the club championship is, whether it's a small parish or a big town, any team who is well prepared and who has the quality of football can actually win it. That's the great thing about the club championship. It's not about size, it's about quality in a particular unit.

"You build belief and our lads are jumping out of our skins for Sunday. Going into the Mullingar game (in their Leinster opener), they were just looking forward to a new part of the journey."

Proof of the 'Mun's ambition is pasted in black and white in their record all season. They have lost just two matches, with both defeats arriving after the Dublin SFC title was won and Leinster campaign already launched.

"We try to develop a winning mentality and every game -- whether it was St Vincent De Paul (Cup), whether it was league, whether it was county or interprovincial -- every game is there to be won," explains Robinson.

Robinson has been part of Paul Curran's management team since last December presiding over coaching duties and physical conditioning.

In that regards, Ballymun Kickhams are one of the best-drilled and well built teams to emerge from Dublin in recent times and it is testament to his expertise that they have attracted widespread admiration on both fronts.

"One of the things we have tried to do -- and it is a bugbear of my own -- is, I think there has been an over-reliance on the gym for a lot of Gaelic football teams over the last number of years," he explained.

"An awful lot of people have engaged in a lot of strength and conditioning where it is linear. Our game is not linear. Our game is about ability and angles and it's about having the suppleness.

"But most of all, it's about putting the ball over the bar. And being able to handle the football. Our lads are conditioned very well but they haven't been living in the gym. Their fitness levels are excellent, but we haven't gotten into strength and conditioning to the extent where they're rigid."

That the Ballymun dressing-room is populated with All-Ireland winners at both under-21 and senior level and Sigerson winners is, according to Robinson, largely irrelevant.

"It's a level-headed dressing room," he said. "But there are no egos. I always use a Clive Woodward term to describe it: there are no 'energy sappers'. They are all energisers.

"We have a lot of lads who have won under-21 All-Irelands, Sigersons, Freshers titles and All-Ireland senior and Leinster titles, but when they come into the Ballymun dressing-room, they're one of 29 and that helps in a competition like this.

"We know as you go through Leinster that there is quality opposition everywhere.

"To win Dublin is a tough enough thing to do in the first place. But outside of that, you're playing county teams. You know they're all quality opposition," added Robinson.

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