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'Dublin can lay down a marker' – Foran

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David Foran of Dublin. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

David Foran of Dublin. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

Kildare's John Doyle. Picture: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Kildare's John Doyle. Picture: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

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David Foran of Dublin. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE

JOHNNY DOYLE is as valuable as Newbridge Cutlery. Dave Foran is a fully paid-up member of his fan club.

"You'd have to say that, in the modern era, John Doyle has been one of the greats of the game. He is a tremendous footballer," says Dave.

"He has been a brilliant servant to Kildare football. He has been at the heart of the team for years. He is just so consistent. Counties have produced top players, and he is certainly up there with them."

Dave has also been impressed with Kildare manager Jason Ryan.

"He brought Wexford from nowhere. They were in the doldrums. Suddenly, they were competing for Leinster titles. They reached an All-Ireland semi-final," he said.

"They gave Dublin a real fright in the Leinster Championship a couple of years ago. That would have been a real feather in his cap.

"He is very calm and collected. He just gets on with his business. He knows what he is doing. Maybe he is the man to bring Kildare on that extra step."

Dave feels that the Lilywhites have had the potential to hit the big-time. And, under Kieran McGeeney, they looked the part.

Yet the manner of Sunday's home defeat by Tyrone carried a recurring theme tune for Dave.

"They are always so fit and strong. They look a powerful unit. There's a genuine physical presence about them, but they just haven't delivered when it mattered most in games. They just haven't been able to get over the line."

It was an afternoon that the Lilywhites could have done with the genial Doyle, who is making steady progress on his return from injury.

Yet Dave predicts that the Curragh Colts will provide a stern test for the Dubs this Saturday night in Croke Park in round four of the Allianz National Football League (7.0).

He sees it as a chance for Dublin to get back on the bike following Saturday's reverse and press ahead in the quest to secure a crucial play-off place.

"It will be interesting. The points are always welcome, but it is also a chance for Dublin to lay down a marker ahead of the Championship. They could send out the message that we mean business for the summer," he insists.

"The League is important, especially the tail-end of it. There's much to be gained from reaching a semi-final or a final. They are the games that matter. There is something at stake. It certainly beats playing challenge matches.

"A win for Dublin will keep them well in contention. Jim Gavin has done a fabulous job. I'd be very hopeful about doing back-to-back All-Irelands.

"Jim has built up such a marvellous team spirit. There's great camaraderie there. There's a terrific team spirit. And all the lads have the right attitude."

Cork took the prize on Saturday night, but Dave still saw many positives in the performance.

He was thrilled to see young Paul Hudson get game-time. Paul is a Thomas Davis diamond.

"He had a brilliant season for Thomas Davis last year. He is a wonderful footballer. He has pace. He has skill. Given the opportunity, he can play a big role for Dublin this year."

Dave knows well the weight of the Dublin jersey. He was a first-class midfielder for the county.

"I suppose I had two careers with Dublin," he reflects.

"I came in as a 19-year-old at the end of the '70s, missed out on the mid-80s and then came back. I have great memories.

"I had the privilege of playing with and against the best players, and of playing in All-Ireland finals, All-Ireland semi-finals and Leinster finals."

He also had the distinction of winning a Dublin SFC three in-a-row with Thomas Davis.

"The Dublin Senior Football Championship was so difficult to win. It was knock-out back then. If somebody caught you on a bad day, you were gone.

"To win the first senior championship in the club's history in 1989 was something special. We didn't know then we'd go on and win the three in-a-row and win back-to-back Leinster titles.

"And, in the season we were going for the four in-a-row, Kilmacud Crokes beat us in the semi-final and they went on to win it. It was a marvellous achievement by that group of players. We had excellent footballers. It was a very hard-working team. Unfortunately, we lost the ultimate prize.

"That was the 1992 All-Ireland final when Dr Crokes beat us by a point. We could have won the game. We started slowly. We were finishing very strongly, but we just ran out of time.

"Remarkably, the Dr Crokes mascot that day was none other than the Gooch. Like I'd everybody else, I wish him all the best in his recovery," he says.

Dave also extends his good wishes to St Vincent's for St Patrick's Day. "I watched the two semi-finals. Of the four teams, I thought that Vincent's were the best side.

"It will be a hard game against Castlebar Mitchels, but if Vincent's play to their full ability, they can win it."

The days of winning the three in-a-row in Dublin are very much numbered according to Dave. "There's probably six or seven sides that could win the title now. The Dublin Championship and League are very competitive. There's so many county players. So many big clubs. It's like a mini All-Ireland," he said.

AMATEUR

Yet Dave contends that the pressure on the players today is too severe. "Club football has almost gone professional. I think it is getting out of hand. There's too much being asked of the players. At the end of the day, they are amateur players, and they have work to think about.

"This four and five nights training a week has gone too far. Players need their rest. Professional footballers train in the morning, but they have the remainder of the day to recover. Gaelic players don't.

"They have to go training after a day's work. They won't get home till 10pm and then they are up again at 7am the next day. It is all about fitness and strength and conditioning now. People are entitled to their views, managements have a right to go which way they want, but I think it has gone ridiculous," he adds.

"It is still the same game. It is still all about the ball, putting it over or under the bar. But with all the emphasis being put on fitness, the skills are being lost."

Dave is involved in more gentler pastures as one of the mentors on the Thomas Davis AFL Division 7 side. He brings much management experience to the post, including a successful three year spell at Wicklow, where he guided them to the O'Byrne Cup and the Division 4 title.

His son Dave Junior plays adult hurling for the Tallaght club, where he is also the club secretary.

"I enjoy going to all the matches, football and hurling," says the Da. "It's nice to meet up with everybody and have the chat and a pint after the game."

The perfect form of relaxation for the modest fireman who answered many a call in Dublin's busy engine room.


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