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'No intention of walking away' for first-time All-Star after loss of All-Ireland winners from Dubs camp

Paul Mannion, Paddy Andrews and Michael Darragh Macauley were the big-name departures from the team.

Updated Mar 11th 2021, 8:36 AM

DUBLIN ACE ATTACKER Niall Scully says he has “no intention of walking away” following the loss of some key players from the six-in-a-row dressing room.

aig-dub-club-health-club-event Dublin footballer Niall Scully. Source: Harry Murphy/SPORTSFILE

Paul Mannion, Paddy Andrews and Michael Darragh Macauley all departed from the Dublin set-up in recent months, with Andrews and Macauley both announcing their retirement from inter-county football.

Mannion has opted out of the panel “for now” according to a statement released by Dublin GAA in the wake of his exit.

The 27-year-old follows on from Jack McCaffrey who stepped away from the Dublin squad ahead of the 2020 season. The former footballer of the year subsequently told Off The Ball that his reason for leaving was that “the fun had gone out of the whole thing.”

Scully has been a revelation in the Dublin forward line since making his senior championship debut in 2017, bringing a powerful workrate that is central to their game.

His ongoing rise culminated in a first All-Star award for the 2020 season and while some of his colleagues have stepped away, he’s eager to stay and chase down more silverware.

“After finishing minor and finishing U21, it probably took me three or four years to get on the panel. Along with getting dropped two or three times with that, so it probably helps to where I am mentally in the game now and where I will be over the next two or three years. I have no intentions of walking away anytime soon.

“We’re here to win All-Irelands and we’re here to enjoy the company of the Dublin players and that’s the main thing. I suppose it’s a big part of my life now and hopefully it will remain to be over the next three, four years with a bit of luck.”

Commenting on the recent loss of Mannion, Macauley and Andrews, Scully adds:

“Definitely three massive presences in the dressing-room between Paul, Paddy and Michael Darragh. Definitely in and around the squad and in and around the dressing-room it will be felt.

“Again, there’s a lot of characters within the squad and a lot of characters within the team. It will be something that you’d be missing for a week or so and then you’d forget about it and kind of move on.”

paul-mannion-lifts-the-sam-maguire Paul Mannion after Dublin's All-Ireland win last year. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

There was no major fanfare for the 2020 All-Stars which took place in February. In place of the black tie event, players had to settle for home comforts as the reformatted awards ceremony was televised on RTÉ.

Their All-Ireland final victory over Mayo was a similarly muted occasion, played at a crowdless Croke Park due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

 Scully says he dedicated the win to manager Dessie Farrell.

“I felt I owed it to him for the five or six years that he’d given me at minor and 21.”

At the All-Stars, Scully spoke to presenter Joanne Cantwell via Zoom. He spoke about the honour of bringing a fourth All-Star back to Templeogue Synge Street to go along with the other three that were bestowed to Dublin icon Anton O’Toole.

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The All-Stars coincided with what would have been O’Toole’s 70th birthday, which made the honour all the more poignant for Scully.

“Absolutely, look, Anton is a legend within our club,” he says almost a month after receiving the accolade.

“There’s probably not a conversation that goes by in the club where Anton’s name doesn’t come up. Again, look, I’ve a few more to get to be getting anywhere near him. Definitely, look, it was a nice thing to get on the same weekend as his birthday.”

There will be some rule changes coming into the GAA in 2022, including the long-awaited arrival of a split season. 

Scully says his main wish is to get back playing games, but isn’t sure if this new fixture format is the “best way going forward.”

“Is a three or four month break for club players what they are looking for? That would be my concern on it.”

Niall Scully was speaking at the launch of the new virtual AIG Health Plus portal which offers free membership at www.aig.ie/dubgym for all Dublin GAA club players and members to a unique physiotherapy-led fitness and health online resource that includes virtual gym membership.

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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