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Dublin: 6°C Wednesday 20 January 2021

Fennell ready to drive Vincent's on to the biggest stage

“I knew what I wanted to do and I know the response I’ve got from the people in Marino,” Éamon Fennell says. “That’s all I care about.”

Fennell with Ballinderry's Kevin McGuckin: The sides meet in the AIB All-Ireland Club SFC semi-finals on Saturday.
Fennell with Ballinderry's Kevin McGuckin: The sides meet in the AIB All-Ireland Club SFC semi-finals on Saturday.
Image: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

ÉAMON FENNELL FOUGHT long and hard to be allowed to pull on the St Vincent’s jersey.

Now he feels that he’s finally delivering for the Marino giants.

Fennell is expected to take his usual place in midfield in Saturday’s AIB All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final against Ballinderry in Newry.

It all seemed like a distant dream during the long-running transfer dispute that threatened to ruin his club career.

His move was finally given the green light in 2011, more than three years after the initial request to leave O’Toole’s.

Throughout the saga there were critics who painted him as a glory hunter, despite the fact that he has strong roots in Marino.

Until this season Fennell felt that he still had a point to prove.

And it’s no coincidence that his most successful club campaign came after he was dropped from the Dublin panel.

Fennell said: “I have been very lucky to get a Dublin championship and a Leinster championship, but a lot of work went into it.

I really had to really make a step up this year because I hadn’t had too much of an impact with Vincent’s since I got the transfer.

“Being away from the Dublin camp allowed me to focus a bit more on the club. It was great for me to fully experience everything that goes on in the club and to try and get involved a bit more, from a social side as well, and get to know the people around the club.”

Towering club performances have put him back in the inter-county picture but Fennell says that he can’t get distracted by what he can’t control.

Similarly, he’s learned to block out the criticism of those who feel that GAA players should live and die by the One Life / One Club credo.

“There are always people that are going to chirp in now and again with that stupid remark, and I do hate it because things didn’t go the way I would have liked in O’Toole’s.

“My mam is from Scotland but she moved to Marino when she moved to Dublin, my granddad played for Vincent’s, my mam is head of the Marino Credit Union for years … there are strong connections with Marino, so I have got that bond there with the area anyway.

People can say what they want to me about it but it’s not really an issue with me. I knew what I wanted to do and I know the response I’ve got from the people in Marino. That’s all I care about.

Ciaran Dorney, Eamon Fennell and Shane Byrne celebrate Fennell celebrates after the Dublin SFC final. Source: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

On Saturday he can deliver for the club that has made him one of their own, and help them to their first All-Ireland final since the win of 2008.

He points to his black eye, evidence of Vincent’s preparations as they gear up for a physical northern challenge from the Ulster champions.

“You need to have as many options going forward as possible, especially when the pitch is as tight as it is in Newry. We need to take every chance we can get to create a bit more space.

“They’re a strong physical team and on a narrow pitch like Newry, you’re going to get a few more hits on the body.

“It’s just a matter of us trying to implement that into our own training sessions as much as possible. We’re doing that at the moment as you can tell by my eye.

“We’re expecting that kind of challenge. You always do against a lot of the Northern opposition.”

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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