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Conor keen for Harps to stay in tune

NOT great expectations out by the sea. But good ones, nonetheless.

Another season in Dublin's demanding AFL Division 2 grade beckons for Skerries Harps.

Their manager is Conor Deegan, an All-Ireland winner with Down and well respected up in Kilmacud for his exploits in the Crokes jersey. He's also a crack golfer.

He's relishing another season back at the wheel. "Unfortunately, it will be another long one," he muses.

"A lot of people would be of the opinion that Skerries Harps haven't done themselves justice over the years and I can understand that to a degree," he states.

"We have some excellent players here and it's only natural that people say that we should be competing at a higher level.

"People see the likes of Graham Cullen, Bryan Cullen, Colin Daly, Donnacha Reilly and the rest. Those types of player underline the quality we have at the club.

"Looking towards this season, we certainly can consolidate our position in Division 2 and have a cut at the Intermediate Championship.

"We have the talent. We have some fine footballers in central positions. The club wants to go forward.

"But we all realise that it takes a lot of work for any side to progress. And Division 2 is a tough standard.

"Last year we got 18 points and that just kept us out of the relegation play-offs. In other years, 18 points might have got us into the promotion play-offs. There will be nothing easy again this time. For a start you have the two St Brigid's teams in there.


"I'll be amazed if the Brigid's first team don't win the title. They are the big favourites to do so, and if that happens it leaves the rest of us battling for the other promotion spot."

Conor is well used to the pressure of the kitchen. The Ulster Championship resembled Gordon Ramsay street.

"I was fortunate to be on a good team at the right time, but that's a long time ago now.

"There were far better footballers than me who never won anything. I was just lucky."

It takes more than a slice of fortune to have a a trophy collection like Deegan's, a haul that includes an All Star award.

That was in 1991. Conor had three Dubs for company that year -- his namesake Mick Deegan, Keith Barr and Tommy Carr.

One player, in Conor's judgement, who definitely deserved his Celtic Cross was Kieran McGeeney.

"The chap worked so hard at it. His dedication was remarkable. If anybody earned his All-Ireland medal it was Kieran.

"He's also doing well with Kildare. They'll sharpen up the Leinster Championship again this summer, and that will suit Dublin. The Leinster Championship has been no friend to the Dubs."

Conor's colleagues and many friends at Crokes and Skerries are glad that Conor has remained a friend of Dublin football. And, who knows, 2010 could be the year of the Harp.