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Dolan admits debt to Christie as Kickhams warm up for an overdue decider

EOIN DOLAN is part of the Christie Collection. A Paddy Pupil, and proud of it.

Paddy Christie is one of the finest full-backs that ever wore the Dublin jersey. Ballymun seemed to have a copyright in the art of full-back play, with Gerry Hargan and Dermot Deasy also excelling in the number three shirt.

For years, Paddy has been managing a juvenile team at the club. He would bring the Ballymun boys all over the county as they acquired their footballing education.

Sometimes, he would be on his own. And logistics such as transport didn't fall off the back of a truck.

On one Saturday afternoon many years ago, there was the sight of Paddy and his apostles rushing across the field at St Olaf's as they tried to make the throw-in time.

Paddy was the only mentor on that occasion. He was devoted to the side, and what made his role even more commendable was that he was the best full-back in Ireland at the time.

Paddy is still on board the Ballymun bus as they head to Donnycarney for Monday night's Evening Herald Dublin SFC final against Kilmacud Crokes (7.45).

"Paddy brought a lot of us on," explains Eoin, a Kickhams Kid who has now matured into one of the most secure defenders in the city.

"He is due so much credit, and it's appropriate that his under-15 team are playing in the curtain-raiser on Monday (v Na Fianna in the Dublin U15FC 'A' final, 6pm).

"I came up all through the grades with Paddy's group. We had some marvellous times.

"We were to lose two Dublin minor championship finals, but we went on to win two county under-21 'A' championship titles," says the Ballymun defender.

"Yet the most important thing of all is that 12 or 13 of the lads are still playing with the senior team. That is the key factor.

"There is no point in having successful juvenile teams who win loads of honours if nobody comes through into the adult set-up."

Climbing the stairs, the defeats have been as important as the victories. Bouncing back is what it's all about.

Last season, St Brigid's, who would go on and win the top prize, defeated Ballymun in the Dublin SFC semi-final after extra-time.

It was yet another reverse for the 'Mun in the last four. They haven't made a final since 1989 (when losing to Thomas Davis, 2-10 to 0-10) and haven't captured the blue riband since 1985 (beating Clontarf 2-7 to 0-8 in the decider).

Garden

In Ballymun's back garden, Eoin wears the number four jersey. His brother, Enda, wears number two.

"I have played in two losing semi-finals," says Eoin, but Enda has played in four or five.

"But we weren't thinking about that last Sunday against St Jude's. The way we looked at it is that we have a lot of fellas who have played in finals of one sort or another. Our priority is to take every game and try to go out and enjoy it as best we can.

"We have a lot of work done now, and we have to regard the final as just another fixture.

"We won't be distracted by the occasion -- the crowd, the lights, any of that. We wouldn't care if the final was played in Albert College as long as we come out on the right side of the result."

The Glasnevin venue is where Christie's Colts played a lot of their football. Eoin is on the senior squad for the best part of eight years.

"We met Kilmacud a lot at underage, minor, under-21 and so forth. They are the standard-bearers, but it's up to us now to knock them off their perch.

"We have had a tough campaign. We have had some very difficult games, but we came through them.

"We just tried to give 100 per cent in every match. We like to work as a unit, to play for each other.

"The aim will be to try to produce a performance, and hopefully the result will come after that.

"As I say, we'll try and leave the occasion to one side and focus on the match. At the end of the day, it's only a game of football.

"We'll go out and put in an honest shift, and with a bit of luck we can do the business."


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