Hope springs eternal with McManamon
SAINT Jude is the patron saint of hopeless cases, so he must have taken pity on Dublin and allowed them to win in Kerry for the first time in 28 years last Sunday.
Dubs manager Pat Gilroy and his management team would, no doubt, take a different view on the key to that success, but it did no harm that they had one of St Jude's 'own' on their team.
Kevin McManamon, the 23-year- old who played corner-forward for the Dubs, came to prominence through his form with the Templeogue club that bears the popular saint's name.
Jude's mounted a big challenge for the 2009 Dublin senior football title, only to fall to Ballyboden St Enda's in the final, but their form brought the likes of the McManamon brothers, Kevin and Brendan, to prominence.
Kevin has retained his place for tomorrow night's game against Derry at Parnell Park (7.30), while 27-year-old Brendan is named in the substitutes.
The only changes are that Michael Savage plays in goal instead of Stephen Cluxton, who is nursing an ankle injury, and Michael Fitzsimons comes in at left corner-back for the injured Philly McMahon.
It's all new to Kevin, this business of playing senior football against Kerry and actually winning down in the Kingdom, but he's not complaining.
"I was delighted. It was a good start just to get my debut under my belt. I enjoyed it," he said. "I don't think I was even born the last time they won down there. It was good to be involved but from my perspective, it was good to get a performance from the whole team. This is a bit of a step up to what I'm used up. You have less time on the ball.
"I'm just getting used to it and hopefully I'll grow into it as the year goes on, but training with such good players hopefully brings you on as a player."
The competition for places will be fierce when all players are fit, and, with Bernard and James Brogan on the bench, and Alan Brogan to come back from injury, McManamon is taking nothing for granted.
"When you have lads like that on the bench, you're always looking over your shoulder," he added. "I suppose you're trying to get as many lads pushing for places as you can. It does add a bit of pressure to keep performing.
"It's new enough to me, but I'm just hoping to keep it going and try and keep working hard for the team."
McManamon's pace and direct style, allied to his willingness to shoot from distance, are his main assets.
A former Dublin U-21 player who got to the Sigerson Cup final last year with DIT, he might have shown up at this level earlier but for knee problems which curtailed his progress in '08.
A win over Kerry was a bright start, but Derry will come to Parnell Park with plenty of confidence after their defeat of Tyrone in round one.
"I saw a bit of Derry's game against Tyrone. They had a very good win over a good Tyrone team. We'll be definitely expecting a tough challenge from them," he said.
Gilroy knows only too well that Derry will be eager to repeat their '09 victory at Parnell Park.
He said: "We were very happy with the effort and the enthusiasm against Kerry, but there were an awful lot of things we could improve from last week.
"At times we looked like we lost our shape a bit, particularly towards the end, and we were a bit naïve sometimes with trying some passes, but you couldn't fault the effort. Derry looked like they were absolutely flying against Tyrone, so I expect a really hard match."
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