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Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Laszlo Geczo/INPHO Injured Paul Mannion before yesterday's game in Cavan.
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'He's not going to be back' - Kilmacud boss rules out Mannion return for All-Ireland final
The Dublin All-Ireland winner is sidelined with a knee injury.

FRESH FROM HIS team’s progression to the All-Ireland club final, Kilmacud Crokes boss Robbie Brennan ruled out his team getting the boost of star forward Paul Mannion returning to fitness before the Croke Park decider.

Mannion suffered a knee injury in the Leinster semi-final against Portarlington before Christmas, watching on for the provincial final win over Naas earlier this month and yesterday’s victory over Padraig Pearses. 

And Brennan dismissed the prospect of a dramatic comeback by Mannion for the final showdown with Down champions Kilcoo.

“I think we’ve a flight to Knock now and see can we get him to Lourdes and see can we do anything with him!” said Brennan, speaking to TG4 after the game in Cavan.

“No he’s not going to be back. I’d say it’ll be probably April before Paul’s back. We’ve known that for a couple of weeks, so we’ve just been planning without him. 

“We’ve asked them all ultimately to step up. I suppose having Paul is like similar to having a bit of a comfort blanket or something. When he’s there, you’re always waiting for something to happen. When that’s snatched away and you don’t have him, everybody just has to realise that and step up, and thankfully again some guys did it off the bench and throughout the 60 minutes today.”

In the absence of Mannion, Kilmacud Crokes have been grateful for the presence of other experienced campaigners in Rory O’Carroll and Craig Dias, the only two survivors on the playing front yesterday from the club’s previous All-Ireland semi-final appearance in 2011 against Crossmaglen Rangers.

“Rory coming home and back to the club has been massive for us, and not with Dublin, he’s around all the time. Craig the same, not being with Dublin has been a big benefit to us. They’re huge leaders around the group and having Manno (Paul Mannion) on the sideline with us there, helping with a bit of info every now and again, so it adds to the group hugely.”

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robbie-brennan Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Kilmacud Crokes boss Robbie Brennan. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

After the setback of their 2018 Leinster final defeat to Mullinalaghta, Kilmacud have sought this campaign to make amends when it comes to clearly thinking their way through frenetic finales, as evidenced by the powerful closing kick they displayed against Padraig Pearses.

“Exactly those feelings, bit of relief and also joy to be heading for an All-Ireland final,” said Brennan.

“It didn’t really make a difference who we lost to, it’s that we were leading that game and we couldn’t close it out and that’s probably been the biggest learning what we’ve tried to improve on since 2018, it’s learning how to close out a game and there were signs of that there today, which was really encouraging.”

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