Kevin McManamon proud to deliver for Dublin
By Cian O'Connell
Kevin McManamon's smile tells the story - charmed and contented that a sixth All Ireland title since 2011 has been delivered.
These are special times for Gaelic Football in the capital with McManamon acknowledging the role occupied by a gifted and gritty crop, who have been on every step of the journey.
"There’s a deep friendship, deep brotherhood between the lads," McManamon admits. "Lads I started with in 2010, lads I came on the panel with first, Mick Fitzsimons, Mick MacAuley, Eoghan O’Gara, James McCarthy, Cian O’Sullivan, these guys - they’re me best mates and I’ve been through it all with them.
"The likes of Buttsy (Darren Daly), Paul Flynn, Bernard Brogan, we’ve been to war with so many times.
"It is a deep bond, a brotherhood, no more so I have great friendship with so many of the fellas who are only on the panel this year and I’m sure that’s going to grow over the next few days when we’re enjoying it.
"From the guys who joined this year to Clucko (Stephen Cluxton), I’m so proud to be part of the team, proud to represent Dublin and so proud to have another title."
McManamon announced his arrival as a substitute with an important point in the closing stages. To triumph at GAA headquarters once more in September brings plenty of satisfaction.
"It feels great; unreal," McManamon says. "The emotion in the dressing-room, we’ve put a lot into it this year and there’s so much respect and appreciation for the lads in that dressing-room, appreciation for another trophy. We set the stall out at the start of the year so absolutely delighted.
How Jim Gavin has quietly, but effectively maintained Dublin's standards despite the inevitable change of playing personnel remains a considerable feat and McManamon is relishing the journey.
"It has been a bit of a whirlwind career, I’ve loved it and there has been so many slow shifts in the personnel, the management team, different players sticking their hands up at different times," McManamon adds.
"We had, I think, really strong performances from people you wouldn’t expect. Treat each year differently and I’m sure next year won’t be the same team, won’t be the same 26 or 15 that goes into our first Championship game. Each year it’s always shifting. Treat each year with respect."
McManamon stresses the importance of the Dublin panel, who continue to produce when required. "It’s tricky enough because there are such warriors there on the second 15 that have played so many games, won All Stars, won everything, big players and big personalities in our team," McManamon remarks.
"They have absolutely the same responsibility in terms of delivering success as the lads that start the game, we always appreciate that and it’s the sum of our parts - we do have a great panel.
"It’s all good and hopefully we’re going to have another go at it in a few months’ time whenever we reset, but we’ll enjoy this one first."
Dublin's sporting success has also greatly aided the players personal lives according to McManamon. "You’re surrounded with really driven people," McManamon states.
"It’s a great group to be part of. I remember Paul O’Connell saying when he retired that he always missed that sense of having a purpose, being part of a group of people working towards the same thing.
"I think that’s what I will miss whenever I pack it in, in a few months or a few years. It’s a special group.
"It’s probably given me a bit of confidence, to go after stuff, what I think I’m here for, what I’m best at work. "Really having a dual career - I put a lot into football, but it’s really important that I have a good life set-up, that I’m a good person outside of that. Football would probably have given me a bit of a leg up on that side of things.
"It’s nice to have the bit of balance and it gets me away from football - I absolutely love my job. I work with high performance athletes, I work with teenagers, people in schools on mental sides of their game - performance coach would be a fair description."
On the pitch McManamon remains one of Dublin's most cherished footballers.