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Friday Legend Focus: 10 questions for Dublin's Ciaran Whelan

Brian O’Driscoll, Barney Rock, The US Masters and Paul Mannion all come up for discussion.

Dublin's Ciaran Whelan.
Dublin's Ciaran Whelan.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

1. Who was your GAA hero growing up?

“Dublin’s Barney Rock. He was the darling of the Hill and I used to love watching him play.

“He’d great style and finesse in the way he played. His goal in ’83 summed him up as a footballer.”

2. Can you remember the first inter-county game you went to?

“I have vague memories of the 1984 All-Ireland semi-final between Dublin and Tyrone.

“But I’d remember the 1985 All-Ireland semi-final, the drawn game and the replay against Mayo, more clearly. I was 9 at the time and that was the first real big Dubs football occasion that I remember.”

3. Tell us about the first time you lined out for Dublin?

“I played for the North-East Dublin side when I was an U12 footballer but for a combined representative Dublin side, it was at minor level that I first lined out.

“It was in 1994 and the opposition for that debut actually happened to be Kilkenny. I don’t remember the exact score but we won comfortably enough.”

4. Who was the toughest opponent you faced?

“The toughest opponent to mark was John McDermott of Meath at midfield. We’d a lot of battles. The best player I would have marked then would be either Kerry’s Darragh Ó Sé or Derry’s Anthony Tohill. I couldn’t seperate the two of them.”

Ciaran Whelan and Darragh Ó Sé
INPHO/Donall Farmer

5. Outside of Croke Park, what’s your favourite GAA venue?

“I think I’d have to say Parnell Park. I played so many games there over the years and I really enjoyed playing there. It’s the real home of Dublin football and is a great place to go to watch a game.

“The other venue that is very special is Killarney. I was at the Munster final there last Sunday and there’s always a great atmosphere at the ground.”

6. What was the most memorable game you played for Dublin?

“The result didn’t go our way but my senior championship debut is a game I’ll always remember fondly. It was the 1996 Leinster final and for a young player, it was just a dream come true to be playing for Dublin.

“I hadn’t even played a league game so it was a huge thing to be pushed into a championship match. It was played in front of a packed crowd and it was a mind-blowing experience.”

7. Which sports do you like to watch apart from GAA?

“I’d really enjoy watching golf. The Major tournaments are always brilliant occasions, I wouldn’t miss them. Rugby would be the other sport that I’d be mainly into.”

8. And which sporting event in the world would you love to attend?

“The US Masters. I’d love to go to Augusta to see it some day.”

9. What current GAA star do you like watching play?

“I’ll have to say a Dublin player really. Paul Mannion is someone who is really exciting to watch. He’s been electric since he started playing in attack for Dublin this year.

“I think he’s going to be a big star and he reminds me of Colm Cooper when he started playing in how a young player can excite fans. Cormac Costello is another really great prospect as well for Dublin.”

Dublin’s Paul Mannion.
Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

10. And who’s your favourite sports star outside of GAA?

“I’d have a lot of admiration for Brian O’Driscoll in how he carries himself and how he has performed consistently for Leinster and Ireland over the years. I thought the reaction to his dropping by the Lions last week was over the top but I was still hugely disappointed by it.

“I can understand a coach wanting to shake up his team. But to drop a guy out of the squad completely was something I couldn’t get my head around. Surely O’Driscoll was worth having on the bench at least as an option for the game?”

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The Bord Gáis Energy Legends Tour with Ciarán Whelan will take place on Saturday, July 13 at 2pm.

GAA legends Pat Gilroy, Ken McGrath, Tommy Dunne and more are also set to host tours of Croke Park Stadium this summer as part of the series. For booking and a full list of upcoming Bord Gáis Energy Legends Tours visit www.Crokepark.ie.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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