Mannion relishing Hill debut to cheer on Dubs
Published 12/09/2015 | 02:30
The last time Dublin ran out on All-Ireland final day, Paul Mannion started at corner-forward and capped a memorable debut season by collecting an All-Ireland medal.
This time around, he'll be making a debut of a different kind when he takes to Hill 16 for the first time.
A year abroad means he's on the outside looking in. He chose to study International Commerce and Chinese in UCD and that meant a mandatory year in China. For the last 12 months, he has spent his time in Beijing rather than training with the Dubs in St Clare's.
He might have been back in time to join up with the panel for the summer but it was June by the time the exams were over.
Too late, he thought, and on he went to Chicago and the McBrides club. There he won the local championship before following that up with the north American crown alongside the likes of Kevin Cassidy and Colm Begley.
He's back now and is waiting for a Hill ticket to come through. But there's no regrets. It's a life experience that he won't forget and his can "hold his own" in Chinese now.
"You are out of your comfort zone and it took a lot of getting used to at the start," Mannion said at the launch of the FBD Kilmacud Crokes 7s, which takes place on All-Ireland final weekend.
"It's a completely different culture but at the end of the year I loved it. I really enjoyed it and got to see so many different things.
"I travelled all around China, got to loads of cities and I got a couple of months off too in the winter and got to see China and Vietnam. It was a nice time and it was a nice break from football.
"I was thinking that if I come back and they're in an All-Ireland final, I'd be feeling a bit of regret.
"But not at all. The last couple of games I've been watching, I've been roaring them on.
"There's not even a small bit of me that is in any way jealous. I've had a great year and I don't have any regrets at all. That's the truth."
Mannion hasn't played for the Dubs since the All-Ireland semi-final defeat last year, though he scarcely had time to digest it. Six days later he was on a plane heading east.
"It was only five or six days later (that he left). I hadn't got flights booked or anything because I was thinking I want to be in an All-Ireland final," he explained. "It was a bit of a surprise losing to Donegal and suddenly getting on a flight then.
"It took your mind off it. Especially the first couple of weeks, it was like a holiday over there. I was with a bunch of friends from my course so that softened the blow."
He's ready to get back with Dublin but first, Crokes will get his whole attention.
"First thing is back with Kilmacud Crokes, try and win a Dublin championship and take it from there," he said.
"Hopefully get a good run at it, if I can have a good championship with Crokes, hopefully in 2016, I can get a call back from the Dublin team.
"That's the plan. It's my final year in UCD, that'll be high on the agenda as well, I want to make sure to be leaving UCD with a good degree."