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Friday 15 December 2017

Shooting for stars

Templeogue's McKiernan targets Dubs spotlight in New Year's Day showpiece

CONOR McKIERNAN is the Templeogue Synge Street centre half-back. He can light up a match.

He has the ability to take the ball from deep and head for the hills. Adventure like that brightens the day.

People still watch in awe that Kevin Moran moment when playing for Dublin against Kerry in the All-Ireland final of 1976 he covered the Croke Park turf like a thoroughbred racehorse and came within inches of a famous goal in front of the Hill.

Panache

Noel McCaffrey was another noble defender that liked to add that dash of panache. On one Sunday winter's afternoon in Pairc Ui Chaoimh, Noel was Lord of the Manor.

Conor enjoyed watching Paul Curran. "He was such a class act. I liked the way he used to try and get forward. It's something I try to do myself... every now and then!"

Dublin football is all the better for that. The Hoops had a worthy championship campaign, beating two of the heavyweights, St Sylvester's and Parnell's.

Against Brigid's in the quarter final, they were four points up with eight minutes to go. Then Barry Cahill swept in for a critical goal at the church end.

"I still find it hard to look back on that goal on YouTube. And who else was going to get it but Mr Cahill!

"We were disappointed with how we lost that one, but, overall, we had a decent run in the championship.

"People weren't expecting us to do all that much, but we showed what we are capable of. They were good wins over Syls and Parnell's. We played well in the replay to beat Pat's of Palmerstown and then we gave Brigid's a run for their money.

"We were in a nice position coming to the end of that game, but these things happen. We'll learn from it and look forward to next year."

Conditions were atrocious on the night Synger met Brigid's.

"It was dreadful alright, but it was even worse for Crokes and Syls who were the second match on that night. It wasn't as bad for us."

The going was also pretty heavy at the basement of Division 1. Templeogue Synge Street were relegated. "The priority now is to get promoted first time. A lot of teams have gone down and found it hard to get back.

"There's not a huge difference between the top of Division 2 and the bottom of Division 1.

"Obviously, the top seven or eight sides in Division 1 are a step ahead of everybody else.

"They can afford to play without their county players. For a smaller club like us, it's more difficult.

"It makes a big difference when we haven't got Denis Bastick and Eoghan O'Gara.

"But we have a fair side now. There's young lads coming through. We had three lads on the Dublin minor squad this year, Niall Scully, Brendan Bentley and Niall O'Sullivan. They will make a difference when they start the season with us."

Conor has also got the scent of the Dublin jersey. He has been on the Dublin senior panel and Dublin development squads.

"He has also had minor and U-21 trials. "I'm no good at trials," he smiles.

He will be on Dubs Stars duty against the Dublin footballers at St Peregrine's on New Year's Day (2.0). "I'll give the Dubs Stars match a go and see what happens.

"I think Dublin will do well next season. They have a strong squad. They are definitely a top two or three team in the country.

"It will be interesting to see what Jim Gavin brings to the table. He has proven himself at U21 level, that's for sure."

Conor has proven himself time and again in Dolphin Park. He's been on the Templeogue Synger side now for six or seven years.

"The time is flying in. I also have two brothers and my father involved, so that adds to the enjoyment.

"Club football in Dublin is getting better all the time. Fellas are fitter and there are more and more top-class players around now."

Cultured Conor is up there with the best of them.

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