Dingle players celebrate their Munster semi-final win. Laszlo Geczo/INPHO
Paul Geaney

'How long have I been trying to get into Munster? I can go to New York any weekend'

Paul Geaney on Dingle’s club journey as a Munster final beckons.

A TRIP TO New York as a reward for a prolonged inter-county season with Kerry that brought hardship at the final hurdle?

Or the chance to fine-tune preparations at home with Dingle in readiness for a trip to Thurles where his club would test themselves beyond county borders?

With his 33rd birthday approaching, Paul Geaney fell down on the side of seizing a chance he had long strove for.

And so the transatlantic flight with the Kerry crew earlier this month was parked.

“We (Dingle’s Kerry county players) spoke about it and Tom (O’Sullivan) needed a break and a bit of off season and Tom went.

“Barry (Dan O’Sullivan) obviously missed the county championship (through injury) and he felt that he just needed to get a bit of work in and he made that call.

“I made it, because like how long have I been around trying to get into Munster championship?

“Just for me this year, I just wanted to knuckle down and try and win this thing. I can go to New York any weekend.”

The reward came in Sunday’s win over Semple Stadium as Dingle showcased their scoring threats in the second half to take down Clonmel Commercials. Victory felt sweet for Geaney. It was his first taste of Munster senior club combat with Dingle, but not his first voyage in this championship.

Back in 2011 he helped UCC reach the provincial final, bagging 1-2 in defeat to a star-studded Dr Crokes team. Twelve months on from that Geaney first sampled Kerry county senior football final day as a player.

If defeat was the upshot that day against Dr Crokes, it ignited a passion that has burned ever since to achieve with his club and test themselves beyond county borders.

paul-geaney Paul Geaney in action for Dingle in the 2018 Kerry senior final. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Perseverance has been necessary for Dingle. In total the past 12 seasons in the Kerry county championship have brought defeats twice in a final, four times in semi-finals and twice more at the quarter-final stages.

They won the Kingdom club championship in 2015 but that wasn’t sufficient to earn them passage to Munster. This season they got their chance.

“We’ve had real consistency in the last couple of years and we’ve been trying to push on and now that we have a chance in Munster, we’ve basically been eyeing it up since we won the club championship.

“We’ve been half hopeful that we’d get there by nature of winning the county championship and that didn’t come out. The two (county) semi-finalists were ourselves and Rathmore. When the districts won, we kind of zoned in on that (the Munster championship).”

Dingle to Thurles is a three-hour road trip, a distance that compelled the club to shorten the journey by staying overnight in Limerick on Saturday. The players adjusted to changed circumstances and a year that featured Croke Park with Kerry in July, is now extended for Geaney.

He sees no cause for complaint.

“People ask is the year too long and all the rest of it. I suppose it changes your mindset when you’re aiming high with the club and you don’t have the opportunity to do it every year.

“You grasp it with two hands. If this thing kept going for another three years, you’d be happy enough to play on, because you’re hunting it down and you want to really kind of show what we haven’t been able to show over the last couple of years.

“We haven’t been able to show how good we are, so it’s a great opportunity for us now. It was exciting and it was a new venture for us and I think we took it very well actually in our stride.

“We were nervous in that first half. Then we freed up in that second half and we played with a little bit more freedom and confidence.”

mikey-geaney-celebrates-after-the-game Mikey Geaney celebrates Dingle's victory. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

The star of the second-half show was Geaney’s younger cousin Dylan, who finished with five points from play.

“Dylan is sensational and very hard to mark with both legs and Conor’s got both legs as well.

“I think we just moved the ball better as well in the second half. His shots were from the edges like they were maybe the 90 percentile of shots like, but he’s got excellent accuracy and that’s his forte really.

“So he pulled it together there when we needed him to.”

Next up for Dingle in Castlehaven. It won’t be Geaney’s first final against them, back in 2011 he helped UCC beat them in a Cork final.

“12 years after the first, I suppose they were new kids on the block that time, they are a lot more experienced now, I think they’ve three championships since

“Well aware of Castlehaven, I kind of had a keen interest obviously in the Cork county championship for a couple of years.

“It’ll be an interesting one they’re a serious outfit like, so it’ll be a great game of football.”

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