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Sunday 23 September 2018

Sarsfields boss Damien hopes to Gift debutant finalists a first senior title

Lucan Sarsfields manager Damien Fox
Lucan Sarsfields manager Damien Fox

THEY call Damien Fox (pictured) 'The Gift'. "That's my nickname alright," he chuckles.

He has carried it from his young days in Offaly. The story goes that he was brilliant at soccer, golf, snooker and many other sports as well.

"Yes, they said I was pretty handy at most sports, and that's where the nickname came from. But, I have to stress, it wasn't me that thought of it," he smiles.

Hurling also featured prominently in Damien's young life. Still does. He's the manager of Lucan Sarsfields, who will contest their first Dublin final in Parnell Park tomorrow.

He played for Tullamore.

"It took me around 40 years to win an Offaly Senior Hurling Championship medal. I finally got my hands on one a few years ago," he said.

He had retreated to goal by then. "I used to play out the field, but they must have thought I was slowing down a bit!"

He is thrilled that Brian Whelehan is the new Offaly manager. "The greatest Offaly hurler of all time, and in Offaly people's eyes, probably the best hurler ever," Fox said.

"He is loved in Offaly. He's a legendary figure. He was such a fantastic hurler. And a nice man as well.

"I wish him all the best. There's excitement surrounding his appointment. He has a hard job, but there is plenty of talent down there."

Damien says there's no lack of quality in Dublin either. He'd love to see the sliotar spin in high summer.

"I used to manage the Laois senior hurlers. And I am a big advocate of playing club championship matches a couple of weeks before inter-county games, like they do in Kilkenny," he said.

"There is nothing like the club championship to sharpen players up. It is far better than training with the county team all the time. The club championship matches would benefit the county."

Damien hopes that Lucan's semi-final win over Craobh Chiaráin will help tomorrow. "Semi-finals are only a means to an end. Winning a semi-final is never enough. You want to get over the line.

"Craobh gave it everything. They put it up to us big-time. But that's the way you want a semi-final to be. You don't want an easy game going into the final, so hopefully now that will benefit us."

Lucan played some crisp stuff in the opening half against Craobh.

"We then froze a little bit, but we got over that and we managed to kick on. They rocked us, but we settled again and we got there in the end," Fox said.

"These lads have been working hard all year. There's good character there. They have been battling for everything. They have a never-say-die attitude.

"We had to show resolve to get out of the group. It all came down to the last match against Cuala, but the lads delivered.

DEMANDING

"Playing Division One this year has been a help. Every game is demanding. The lads have such great pride in the club.

"There are never any problems for them to make training or matches. There's no bother making a 10.30 throw-in on a Sunday morning. And, indeed, that goes for all the clubs in Dublin. They love their hurling in the county."

Out in Lucan, they'll love Damien Fox even more if victory can be achieved in Donnycarney.

And having made history by guiding them to the big day, it's obvious that he is still a man of many gifts.

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