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McDaid: Blues can keep Sam

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Dublin's Ronan McDaid. Picture: Barry Cregg/SPORTSFILE

Dublin's Ronan McDaid. Picture: Barry Cregg/SPORTSFILE

Dublin's Ronan McDaid. Picture: Barry Cregg/SPORTSFILE

GOOD hands are a must for being a member of football's full-back union. Robbie McDaid has them.

It runs in the family. His cousin, Paul Durkan, is the Donegal goalkeeper. A Four Master of the art, and an All-Ireland-winning All Star.

"Watching Paul, I was always saying to myself I'd love to play at that level," muses Robbie.

The Ballyboden St Enda's number three is well on his way. He had a splendid season.

It saw him earn a place on the Dublin Bus/Herald Dubs Stars football team that will play Jim Gavin's All-Ireland champions at the Monastery Road home of Round Tower, Clondalkin on New Year's Eve (7.0).

He has been a Boden boy since he was a tot. This is his second campaign on the first team.

He helped Boden reach the Dublin Senior Football Championship semi-final. "We were disappointed last year losing to Crokes in the replay.

"So we managed to beat them this time. We also got over St Brigid's, so it wasn't bad going by any means. Crokes and Brigid's are two of the biggest names in Dublin football."

In the opening round at the Iveagh Grounds, Boden had to endure extra time to get past Lucan Sarsfields.

The game against Kilmacud attracted a mighty crowd to O'Toole Park. It provided plenty of drama. Robbie had a super match. Against such vaunted forwards, he made sure the Boden shutters remained buttoned.

 

Marvellous

And in the quarter-final against Brigid's, he was marking Paddy Andrews. As the late, great Peter Jones would say, "he stuck to him like a stamp".

"St Vincent's beat us in the semi-final. But looking back now it's no shame to lose to the Dublin and Leinster champions," reflects Robbie.

On semi-final bank holiday Monday night, Diarmuid Connolly and Mossy Quinn went to the opera. "Two class acts, as we found out to our cost."

He also highly rates Paul Mannion of Kilmacud and Dublin. "He's a brilliant forward, and we have had some marvellous tussles over the years."

Like Paul, Robbie is an accomplished soccer player. He played for Wayside Celtic and UCD. He marvelled at the charm of Henrik Larsson. Uncle Paul, the Donegal diplomat, had a spell with Finn Harps.

Robbie is also a top-notch basketballer. He played for his school, Coláiste Eoin, and for the Templeogue Basketball Club.

He represented the East of Ireland region and he has three All-Ireland basketball titles. Much to talk about with his Boden colleague, Michael Darragh Macauley.

Robbie began his football career as a full-back. He then moved to midfield, but he reverted to full-back when he was with the Dublin minors, and the cement has stuck. He first wore the Dublin shirt at U14 level.

His manager at Ballyboden, Conor Deegan, will now be in the Kilmacud dugout next season. He knows a thing or two about intelligent defending.

Deegan was on the Down team that beat Dublin in the 1994 All-Ireland football final by two points. The following year, Dublin pipped Tyrone by a point in the All-Ireland final, with Jim Gavin at half-forward.

Robbie thinks the Dubs will be in the frame for the back-to-back All-Irelands.

"It's a very hard thing to do," he says. "But the strength in depth of the panel gives them a chance. I have every faith in them."

His admiration also stretches to his club colleague, Conal Keaney, an iconic figure of Dublin sporting life, and this season's Dublin Bus/Herald Dubs Stars Hurler-of-the-Year.

"Conal is focused more on the hurling now with Dublin, et cetera, but it's great when he's available to come back to us for the football. He brings such experience with him."

They'll be writing songs about the Special K yet, and Robbie would love to be in the studio. He is learning the guitar.

 

Sharper

It's a break from college and sporting commitments. The run-in to Christmas was busy with exams and the little matter of the Dublin U21 Football Championship final. Even the maestro McDaid couldn't prevent Na Fianna from winning the three-in-a-row.

Like all, he'd love to see a shorter, sharper season, but he knows it's easier written than done. "With Dublin being so successful, it is very difficult to put new structures into practice."

But he welcomes the efforts of the GAA's Review Committee in trying to improve the life of the club player.

"It's good that the GAA have made proposals to help the club game regarding having more club championship games during the summer months and concluding the fixture programme within the calendar year.

"It is never easy finding the perfect solution that suits all, but at least the recommendations will spark debate."

In the meantime, Robbie will gladly continue to face the music for club and county.

Dublin Bus/Herald Dubs Stars double bill tomorrow at Monastery Road, Round Tower, Clondalkin.

5.0: Dubs Stars Hurlers v Dublin;

7.0: Dubs Stars Footballers v Dublin.


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