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Cahill: I've no regrets

A FULL decade has passed since Martin Cahill's relatively short championship career as a Dublin footballer ended with a bang, quite literally.

But he has no regrets - while his cousin Barry may have finally crossed the All-Ireland Rubicon with Dublin this year, Martin has savoured every minute of his club journey with St Brigid's.

And now the pair will hope to propel the Blanchardstown crew to a second AIB Leinster club football decider -- in what is only their second stab at the competition. All that lies in their semi-final path is Portlaoise, at Parnell Park this Sunday. Well, whoever said it was going to be easy?

But first, a short trip down memory lane to when Martin had established himself as first-choice corner-back during what proved to be Tom Carr's swansong campaign as Dublin manager.

Called into the panel at the latter end of 1999, Cahill didn't see championship action the following summer but then played all three Leinster SFC outings in 2001, culminating in the final against Meath ... when his involvement lasted all of 11 minutes.


"I got badly concussed in the Leinster final," he recalls, "and Shane Ryan came in and played well. We went into the back door against Sligo the next week -- I wasn't even allowed tog out because I was concussed. Shane played very well and stayed in for the Kerry games."

Now 32, the evergreen defender is completely philosophical on what might have been. "Everyone has regrets in life, but I mightn't have had the great memories with the club that I had, with my real friends that I grew up with," he points out.

Ironically, Barry Cahill established himself as a Dublin regular the following year -- 2002 -- and saw a decade of agonising near-misses end with All-Ireland deliverance last September.

What happened next has crowned a perfect year for the former All Star who, eight years ago, was a stricken spectator for St Brigid's maiden Dublin SFC coronation.

As Martin points out: "Barry did his cruciate (in 2003) and was injured the whole way, but came back for the All-Ireland semi-final against An Ghaeltacht. Technically he didn't have a (Dublin) championship, so he has the whole package now.

"I'm delighted for him. I know how much the county football takes out of you but, in the 10 years since I played, it has become even more professional."

As for his own club career, there were times when Cahill wondered if Brigid's would ever get back to the Dublin summit.

"I am coming towards the end of my senior football days," he says. "You probably do think it may never come again. Back in 2003, I was only 24 and you thought it would come every year. Being the first time is always special. But this year was special as well because it could be my last."

Cahill doesn't want it to end here, but he's suitably wary of the "massive, massive test" provided by Portlaoise and begs to differ with the bookies who have installed the home side as favourites.

Moreover, he is determined that there is no porous repeat of the three first-half goals leaked against Horeswood 12 days ago.

"Definitely it was a bit of a shock from a back's perspective," he concedes.

"Luckily enough the forwards came up trumps, but the last thing we want to do is be playing Real Madrid football -- 'whatever they score, we will try to outscore them'."