Thursday 20 October 2016

McManamon effect makes him 'huge handful for the opposing team'

Supersub 'has been hugely important to us down through the years,' insists Dublin selector Darcy

Published 14/09/2015 | 02:30

Declan Darcy: 'Kevin McManamon (pictured) has been hugely important to us down the years when introduced, and has been a key factor'
Declan Darcy: 'Kevin McManamon (pictured) has been hugely important to us down the years when introduced, and has been a key factor'

Kevin McManamon may get frustrated with his supersub role for Dublin but his devastating contributions will live forever in the Dubs' history.

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That is the view of selector Declan Darcy, the former Blues player who also featured in the Leitrim team which made history by winning the 1994 Connacht football championship. Darcy has been part of Jim Gavin's management team since Gavin succeeded Pat Gilroy and he rates McManamon highly.

"Subs coming in are a huge part of it, and they can be equally important to how a team performs, especially towards the end of the game," says Darcy. "Kevin McManamon has been hugely important to us down the years when introduced, and has been a key factor.

"I know it's hard for players to get their heads around, but it is a really big part of the game, and seeing out a victory."

The All-Ireland replay against Mayo provided yet another example of the McManamon effect.

Called in from the bench after 53 minutes, he blasted home a killer goal in the 66th minute.

He also lofted over a point for a 1-1 contribution in 17 minutes of normal time plus the extra few minutes added on by the referee.

Darcy accepted that, to an extent, McManamon is a victim of his own success as an impact player but said: "Some of the moments he has produced will be iconic moments. As a footballer, he will be well-remembered.

"Okay, sometimes maybe he didn't have the same impact when he started but he is still a huge part of the team.

"Whether he starts or finishes the game, he will still be a huge handful for the opposing team.

"And you wouldn't like to be marking him because he has that threat factor. And if he does get in, he will score."

Darcy is a native of Dublin and grew up there, but his parents come from Leitrim and he played for the Connacht minnows at minor and senior level for almost nine years up to 1996.

He captained Leitrim in their victorious Connacht Championship run of 1994 in which they won the provincial title for the first time since 1927 and only the second time in the county's history.

Later he switched club allegiance from Aughawillan to St Brigid's in Dublin and played for the Dubs.

His first experience of Dublin v Kerry in championship football came relatively late in his career in the 2001 All-Ireland quarter-final in Thurles.

Asked about his memories of encounter, he spoke of the special feelings evoked by championship battles with the Kingdom.

"There's a nostalgic rivalry there that brings out the very best in everybody in both counties.

"Kerry really want to beat Dublin, always did; and Dublin always want to beat Kerry. It just has that edgy kind of feel to it, and that's what I noticed. It's nothing like any other game," says Darcy. "The fans and the media will be embroiled in all of that special atmosphere, but the Dublin management and players will do all they can to shut out the distractions."

They have a job to do, and the experience of being caught out by Donegal in last year's semi-final brought lessons to be learned.

"There's a little bit too much made of management teams to a degree. When you win, they kind of say, 'The subs you made, this that and other' … and then when you lose, they kind of go, 'Oh you didn't do this and you didn't do that.'

"So it's a little bit of in between.

"Yes, every game we play, we learn. We learned harshly last year, to be honest with you. Yeah, it was tough, but, like, any day you lose is tough. "We have learned. We're three years here now, so we've lost one game, one important game," said Darcy.

Darcy expects that the two matches against Mayo should serve Dublin well against Kerry.

"You can't buy those type of games or atmospheres or tests, both mentally and physically. I would hope that would help them hit the ground running going into the final."

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