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McConnell ready to be Plunk' rock

ROSS McCONNELL came out of the Plunkett’s dressing room into the corridor of the Parnell Park clubhouse.

He was carrying the trademark snack-box of the modern-day footballer – a banana and bottled water.

He had used up a considerable amount of fuel in the semi-final win over Lucan. And he also excelled against Vincent’s in the quarter-final.

Against Vins, he was up against his county colleague Eamon Fennell, and on Sunday he’ll be shaking hands with the noble Mr Barry Cahill.

That duel should be one of the stand-out features of Sunday’s Evening Herald Dublin Senior Football Championship final at Parnell Park (3.30).

Ross is thrilled to be walking out on the blue carpet again. He was there when Plunkett’s fell to Crokes in the magical two-game final saga in 2008.

In the programme of the first installment, there is a profile on Ross. H\[Ian Winterton\]is e lists Eric Cantona and Charlie Redmond as his childhood heroes.

And in the ‘Players You Admire’ slot, he names Ciarán Whelan and Jason Sherlock. Ross partnered David Matthews at midfield. Jayo and David will again be lacing up the boots this week.

The first game finished 0-13 to Plunkett’s and 1-10 to Crokes. Crokes won the replay by two points – 3-6 to 0-13. Remarkably, Bernard Brogan, in a fantastic exhibition, hit 10 of the Plunkett’s points, seven coming from play.

Ross is tall and lean. There’s a touch of royalty about him. His dad and grandfather wore the jersey of Meath – his grandfather, Kevin, winning |All-Irelands in 1949 (beat Cavan) and 1954 (beat Kerry).

He has been decorating the Dublin shirt for a few seasons now. And he’s likely to be manning the engine room for many years to come.

But, for now, there are domestic issues to be considered as Plunkett’s and Brigid’s stage their very own tug of war across the Navan Road.

Derby day in the city. And Plunkett’s keen to add some new history to the championship which has inspired songs and tales of glory down through the decades.

But around Martin Savage Park, nobody is pressing the rewind button. It’s all about preparing the next meal.

And the meeting of Plunkett’s and Brigid’s in the big one has them dancing in the streets around the locality.

“We are delighted to be there. It’s great to reach a county final. We haven’t been to too many,” states Ross.

“We were happy to have won the semi-final against Lucan, especially

after falling at the semi-final last year. Winning your county championship is what you play football for. As young lads in the club, we all have aspired to do that.

“But winning the semi-final was just another step. That’s all. It’s all about how we perform on Sunday now.”

Ashtown will be like Central Station as the faithful make their way to Donnycarney’s Theatre of Dreams.

“It is going to be a great occasion. We have always got wonderful support. Our followers come out in all weathers.

“It will be a big day for all the club members and the families. But our job will be to just focus in on the game.”

And Ross is in the perfect shape to do just that. “I was rested at the start of the year due to injury and that, so I think I am a bit fresher this year than last.

“It’s super to be out playing football again. And it doesn’t matter if it’s for Plunkett’s or Dublin, it’s just marvellous to be togging out.

“It’s such an honour to be playing for Plunkett’s, and if I can contribute in any way at all, I am happy to do so.

“If that means going up and catching a few balls during a game or whatever, I am more than happy to do that if it helps the cause.”

Ross knows the days of high summer when 80,000 fans would be shouting in his ear in Croke Park. But with Plunkett’s, it’s all about bringing it all back home.

When he was injured, he was still at the Plunkett’s matches, acting as the waterboy.

Plunkett’s and the Waterboys will be pumping up the volume and jumping over the whole of the moon if they can bring home the Clery Cup on Sunday night.

It’s not going to be easy against the team from just across the fence, who showed deep desire to finally overcome the brave Ballymun challenge.

SWEAT

For their part, Plunkett’s also had to bring the spades, and buckets of sweat, against Lucan last Saturday. “We knew it was going to be tough and that’s the way it turned out.

“It was also tight enough against Lucan last year in the quarter-final, although the score-line wouldn’t suggest that. We got a couple of goals near the finish that put the gloss on it.

“As they say, semi-finals are there to be won and we are just glad we did that. Lucan are a fine side. They have a good few under-21s there. They have a nice mix.

“We have a decent balance ourselves. We have the young lads coming through. You always need them to be stepping up to the mark.

“We have the experience as well, and the few county fellas.

“Hopefully another week won’t do them any harm and they won’t be too tired\[Ian Winterton\] after the long season.

“We’ll look forward to it now. It’s terrific to be involved on the big day. Fair play to both clubs. It’s tremendous for football in the area.

“Hopefully, there will be a huge crowd. We’ll be giving it our best shot. You can’t do any more than that,” concludes McConnell.


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