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Sunday 5 February 2023 Dublin: -3°C
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‘Another member of that Vincent’s team was of course Pat Gilroy, and I would’ve spent quite a bit of time in Pat’s company…’

THE PERFORMANCE OF the Dubs on Saturday night was without doubt the best 70 minutes of football we’ve seen from anyone so far this season.

Having witnessed the Tyrone full-back line very much inconvenienced by Roscommon last weekend, I thought the Dublin full-forward line could have a very productive day and that’s certainly how it played out.

Diarmuid Connolly has been a bit of an enigma for Dublin over the last few years but I’ve never had any doubts over his ability.

I actually played for a year with St Vincent’s in 2006, and even though he was only a youngster, he was extravagantly gifted. I can shed no more light on the issue of what foot he kicks with – the most discomfiting decision he had to make on the field most of the time was whether to score with his left or his right.

Another member of that Vincent’s team was of course Pat Gilroy, and I would’ve spent quite a bit of time in Pat’s company, as we both worked rather odd hours. I recall quite a few sessions in DCU where it was just him and I in fact, being put through our paces by then-manager Mickey Whelan.

Capital gains

Playing with a club in Dublin is certainly different. I went to Vincent’s because Mickey Whelan was my Sigerson Cup manager at DCU, and because I was living in Marino at the time, and walking into the place for the first time the sheer weight of history was pretty intimidating.

I played my first game for Vincent’s in a pre-season tournament in Malahide in January. There were three people from Vincent’s there – Mickey Whelan, manager; Brian Mullins, selector; and an unknown gentleman in a grey parka that turned out to be Kevin Heffernan!

In the end though my commitments with ‘Off The Ball’ meant I could only really train at the weekends and so I decided if that was the case I might as well just go back to Milltown, my home club in Galway.  But if I ever was to go back to a Dublin club, then getting fat on success off the back of Diarmuid Connolly’s exceptional talents would certainly appeal!

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Day off

This was my first weekend off all summer, as Newstalk’s GAA coverage has wrapped up for the year (no semi-finals or finals for us, due to rights agreements, alas) and so like any good club-man I spent it back in Galway, cheering on Milltown in the senior club football championship.

We’re through to the quarter-finals, and motivated more by the fear of missing out on a county final win (our first since 1981) than anything else, I’d love to play my part for the next eight weeks or so.

I was in Clare on Saturday night for a family gathering and travelled back from there to Milltown on Sunday afternoon. This afforded me the opportunity to listen to the first half of a classic minor semi-final, between Clare and Galway, on Clare FM, and the second half on Galway Bay FM.

It was a reminder, if a reminder was needed, what a gift the local radio stations are. Clare FM’s Fergal O’Loughlin is a man whose radio stylings deserve to be heard by a wider audience. He was brilliant – funny, very well-informed, and perceptive too.  His discussion with commentator Syl O’Connor on the new GAA initiative Camán Abú, which they were watching being played at half-time in the minor game in Croker, basically revolved on how he’d love to give it a go, as there are some “fine looking females” down there.

Hurling, AND fine looking females… something tells me Fergie has been dreaming of this killer combo for a long, long time.

I was back in the homestead to watch Kilkenny and Waterford before our club-game started and while the outcome was seldom in doubt, it was encouraging to see Waterford put up such a good fight. It still looks set fair for a Tipp-Kilkenny final, but the Dubs will have a say first next week.

One more word on Pat Gilroy – Ken Early, ‘Off The Ball’ football correspondent would happily run through a brick wall for his beloved Dubs, but he will never forgive Gilroy for the most outrageous of dives to win a penalty for Vincent’s in the dying moments of a championship match against St Judes, for whom his brother was playing at the time.

I’ve seen this dive, and it was shambolic in fairness. Only the return of Sam Maguire to the capital could buy Ken’s love back… so Pat, you know the high stakes you’re playing for now.

Ciaran Murphy is producer of Off The Ball sports show on Newstalk 106 and pitchside reporter for the station’s live GAA coverage this season.

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