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Mossy: I don't think the Dubs are missing me

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 St Vincent's star Tomas Quinn. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

St Vincent's star Tomas Quinn. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

St Vincent's star Tomas Quinn. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

HE'S a man of many talents and several names too. Tomás Quinn is the official signature. In the realms of Dublin GAA, he goes by the more informal Mossy Quinn. Headline writers favour further embellishment, generally eschewing the generic "Mighty Quinn" for something more familiar ... "Magical Mossy".

Whatever your preferred moniker, there is no mistaking either the might or the magic of Quinn's recent displays for St Vincent's. He's not mighty in terms of physique but his courage in leading the line, coupled with the sorcery of his score-taking, have been pivotal features of the Marino men's run to this Sunday's AIB Leinster club senior football final against Portlaoise.

So much so, in fact, that some observers might now be wondering if the former Dublin freetaker stepped off the inter-county treadmill too early? Here's one critic who begs to differ: Quinn himself.

"Not really," he demurs. "Playing for Dublin was brilliant and I loved every minute of it, but the way the game has gone now with the speed of it in Croke Park ... there's a big difference between Parnell Park in November and Croke Park in July."

At times, he concedes, watching the "open, attacking style" of Jim Gavin's Dublin this year, there may have been a temptation to wonder if retirement had been the right choice.

"During Pat's years," he expands, referring to Sky Blue life under Pat Gilroy, "it was very different. It was the right thing to do at the time but as a forward it was tough going.

"So, watching Jim's style of play you are looking at the forwards thinking that would be fun – but I don't think they miss me.

"You see the young guys coming through and the speed they play at is just a different level.

"So no, I'm happy with club football at the moment."

The signs are self-evident: they are written in the stats. He has been the Herald's man-of-the-match in each of his club's last three outings: the county final replay against Ballymun, the Leinster opener against St Loman's and the provincial semi-final against Summerhill (when he tallied 1-8 of their 1-14 total, including 1-4 from play).

Vincent's played six SFC outings in Dublin and Quinn accumulated 0-33 (12 from play) along the way, not to mention three goal assists in their semi-final against Ballyboden St Enda's. Since then he's added 1-15 from two Leinster outings, making a running championship total of 1-48 (1-17 from play) in this calendar year.

Climax

No wonder he'll be a marked man (what odds Cahir Healy gets the job?) when the Marino roadshow travels to Tullamore this Sunday for a 2pm climax to a spectacular season.

And yet, even though he still feels "relatively young" for club combat, the 32-year-old could see towards the end of his Dublin days that inter-county was increasingly a young man's game.

He was no longer a regular starter by the time Dublin ended their 16 years in the All-Ireland wilderness, in 2011, but as he explains: "I knew I was going to come back the following year to see if we could defend the title and that was the year Jack (McCaffrey), Ciarán (Kilkenny), Emmet (ó Conghaile) and Kevin (O'Brien) came in after winning the (Under-21) All-Ireland.

"I had been pushing and, in my head, I thought that a few lads had won the All-Ireland and they mightn't be as hungry and there might have been a chance for the team to change a little bit. But then those guys came in and you've seen the speed they move at.

"We have had guys come in over the years, at 18 or 19, and you could see immediately that they weren't ready and it would take two or three years for them to make it. But these guys came in and they were more than ready.

"Chasing Jack McCaffrey is no fun, so I knew. I hadn't been playing as much as you'd like and I think it made the decision easier. You see the guys who have come in (since then) like Paul Mannion, and Cormac Costello is going to come in. I was happy to do what I did for as long as I did, but you have to know when it's time."

In inter-county retirement, Quinn has enjoyed getting some of his life back, especially the novelty of a weekend off. Not that such events were too common during the congested mayhem of October/November: the day before their Dublin quarter-final against St Sylvester's, his wife gave birth to daughter Clodagh ... in the next 22 days he played five games (crazy yet somehow typical for the time of year), sharpening his appreciation for the time you have away from football.

Prior to departing the Dublin squad, he had dabbled with the idea of resuming his club hurling career in tandem with the football. That didn't come to pass, but there has been no shortage of buzz as the Vins captured a first Dublin title in six years.

Bounties

That memorable '07/08 campaign delivered the added bounties of Leinster and All-Ireland coronation. They even blitzed Portlaoise en route – but for many of his colleagues, that Leinster semi-final may as well never have happened.

"A couple of young guys on the team didn't even know we'd played them in '07! Honestly, it doesn't have any relevance. One of the young lads asked me about it and I told him that Pat Gilroy was playing and he played well that day, and they kind of laughed. Genuinely, that was the reaction," Quinn recounts.

"Even down at the Loman's game – we'd played Tyrrellspass in the Leinster final that year, it was in Mullingar and one of the lads told me that he was behind the goal. But he doesn't really remember watching the game because they were more concerned about getting back onto the bus."

Different times. Same magical Mossy.


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