Monday 26 September 2016

Dublin minor boss Christie ready for Croke Park return

Jackie Cahill

Published 27/06/2015 | 02:30

Christie: Expecting tough challenge
Christie: Expecting tough challenge

The boxes are ticked and at Croke Park tomorrow, Paddy Christie hopes that his Dublin minor footballers can deliver.

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It's the first time that Dublin's former senior team captain will lead a team into action as a manager at GAA HQ.

And he's relying on some familiar faces to get the job done against Kildare.

Christie has selected five players from his Ballymun Kickhams club, young men he knows well from coaching some of them for almost a decade.

But Christie knows that Kildare will present a stiff Leinster semi-final challenge.

The Sky Blues beat them by five points in a Leinster League final in March and Christie's team is carrying 12 starting survivors from that early-season joust.

He reflected: "Before I took over this squad, I had been told that Kildare at U15 and U16 were the form team, the ones to beat.

"It was the first time this (Dublin) squad had beaten them in quite a while.

"We played them in that Leinster League final in Hawkfield and what really stood out for me was how physically impressive Kildare were.

"They're well able to play football and while you'll have the odd small corner back or corner forward, they're all big, powerful men. Stature-wise, we're not the biggest of teams physically but it's up to us to play to our strengths."

Despite some injury concerns, Christie's minors have enjoyed good preparation.

EXPERTISE

They have a man renowned as a cult figure during his playing days at the helm and his backroom team is crammed with experience and expertise.

Stephen Bennett takes care of strength and conditioning work at Dublin City University and Christie's selectors are Mickey Whelan, Brian O'Regan and the ex-Leitrim player, James Glancy.

Christie says: "Mickey's had great success, he's a very enthusiastic fella and in there for the right reasons.

"Brian and James are full-time coaches - Brian with Ballyboden and James with Round Towers Clondalkin, having been involved with Ballymun.

"Both coaches are very good and have a good way with the players.

"They understand how young fellas work. The mistake people can make is that these guys are not men yet and you've got to have people there dealing with that age.

"It's not a one-size fits all job and I'd feel very strong in that area because I've had a couple of teams myself at that age level. I took a (Ballymun) team from the age of 10 through to 21 and I've had that bit of experience myself, coming from a teaching background as well.

"I have Ian Robertson with me from Ballymun too. He has a very good way of spotting switches on the pitch.

"He's not so much coaching-oriented, more on the football tactics side of things. Gary Matthews is looking after our goalkeepers and he's excellent as well, knows his stuff inside out."

Despite the high level of personnel at Christie's disposal, he knows that minor is an unpredictable grade.

But what he can do to try and ensure success is be prepared and that work began on January 1.

He added: "The foundations are in place and that means it's just another game, another part of what's been going on for the last six months.

"You don't change a lot of things like the preparation and the warm-up.

"You might have to tweak a little for different venues and if there is travel to contend with but it's been the same set-up all year and you have to believe in that.

"As a player, you appreciate that most of us are creatures of habit. We like routine, we like to know where we stand and where we're meeting at a certain time.

"What we can't legislate for is young fellas, even senior players, going off and doing something stupid on the night before or the morning of a game.

"They wouldn't mean any harm but the pressure comes on and changes things a bit.

"As the manager, you're the person trying to keep a track on everything that's going on without trying to micro-manage."

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