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'If Diarmuid being back in helps us to get over the line to win an All-Ireland, I think that’s what they understand'

Tomás Quinn on the intense competition for places within the Dublin football squad.

diarmuid-connolly Diarmuid Connolly made his Dublin comeback when starting against Tyrone in Omagh. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IF THE COMPETITION for places in the Dublin starting side is intense, the fight for inclusion in the 26-man squad is not diluted by comparison.

The debate over who will make the cut for the first fifteen for next Sunday’s All-Ireland decider is matched by the uncertainty over who will be selected on the bench.

Dublin’s semi-final win over Mayo saw a couple of long-serving campaigners Bernard Brogan and Eoghan O’Gara not part of the panel.

The return of Diarmuid Connolly to the Dublin ranks mid-summer heightened the sense of competition in their squad and 2011 All-Ireland winner Mossy Quinn admits it is a difficult scenario for players to park their personal challenge in order to prioritise what is best for the team.

“I think it is a difficult thing. There is no doubt. Every player out there is striving to get into that first 15, and then ultimately the 26. If you’re not in it, proof of that would be if you hear guys talk about being a mainstay of a team and then they end up being a sub, and they tell you, ‘Well I won an All-Ireland, but it probably didn’t mean as much to me’.

“I’m always really interested to hear comments like that. I was fortunate to play, I didn’t get any game time in the 2011 final, I put massive value on that All-Ireland medal, but I don’t know what it feels like to have played in an inter-county All-Ireland and to win it.

bernard-brogan-and-eoghan-ogara-before-the-game Dublin’s Bernard Brogan and Eoghan O’Gara before the game with Tyrone in the Super 8s. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“But I’d like to think there’s huge value to me in the one I’d have. I would say the culture within this group, selfishly someone probably looked at it and said, ‘Well that didn’t help me’.

“But if Diarmuid being back in helps us to get over the line to win an All-Ireland, I think that’s what they understand, and I don’t think the group would have the level of success it’s had in the last couple of years if that wasn’t the overriding [feeling].

“So yeah, initially guys might have thought, ‘Well what’s happening here? What’s does it mean for me’. Sometimes you have to look and say, ‘Well do I want to play, selfishly because it’s best for me, or do I want the guy who is better than me– not better, might have more to offer in a certain game or certain situation – is it better for the team that he gets a few minutes here and that I get less’.

“And I think ultimately that’s when management made the call with that in mind, and the players were big enough and mature enough to understand that it was for the greater good.

“I do think it does come back to that selflessness, that it is for the greater good of the team, and it is to try and get the whole group over the line. That to me is they way all players look at it.”

tomas-quinn Electric Ireland GAA Minor Star Awards Panel member for 2019, Tomás Quinn highlights the importance of the pre-game ritual to Minor players, encouraging fans to be a part of “The Championship Haircut” which returns to Croke Park for the Electric Ireland GAA All Ireland Minor Football Final, for the second year running. Fans can avail of a free cut or style between 11.30am – 1pm on the Cusack Stand Side. #GAAThisIsMajor Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Quinn was not surprised that the Dublin management sought to bring his St Vincent’s club-mate back into the fold when it became clear he would be in the country for the summer months.

“I think to be honest, the reality is that he was looking to go (to America). He was planning on going away and it didn’t work out. The fact that he’s back in with the squad, anyone who tells you knowing from May, June and July that he was going to be back, that wasn’t the case.

“I suppose it’s just the way things have worked out, so there is an element of surprise in that sense. But once it was clear that he wasn’t going away, I wasn’t surprised that he was back. With what he can bring, I’m not surprised they wanted him back. Obviously it was up to himself to go back, he thought it was worthwhile. I think it was the right call.

“I don’t think there is any kind of physical challenge in the sense that in terms of his fitness or his physical shape and his skill set. I think it is just the speed of the game and the sharpness of the game is obviously at a different level, particularly when you get to Sunday afternoon and All-Ireland final day.”

To date Connolly’s involvement has revolved around starting in the dead rubber clash with Tyrone in Omagh and an injury-time introduction against Mayo in Croke Park.

Quinn can foresee a greater role on Sunday against Kerry.

“The fact that he’s there, you mention the 26, I think its clear that from the way Dublin pick their squads, they don’t pick anything on sentiment. Anyone who’s in that 26, they feel has a role to play, or there could be an opportunity that they are going to see game time.

“I would say it’s going to be close coming into the last 15, 20 minutes, Dublin are going to need guys to make an impact as they always have. I think they’re going to need five or six guys, and I absolutely think when they run around and look at the bench, he’s one of the guys. I think there’s a trust there that he’ll make good decisions with the ball. Yeah, I think there is a possibility that you’ll see him.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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