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Mossy Quinn

Mossy Quinn

Mossy Quinn. Picture: SPORTSFILE

Mossy Quinn. Picture: SPORTSFILE

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Mossy Quinn

VINCENT'S veteran remains star attraction ahead of the All-Ireland club football final"I ACTUALLY fancied Castlebar to beat Dr Crokes," says Mossy Quinn, looking sincere as though he means it.

But then he would say that, even if he didn't.

He's articulate enough, of course, and sufficiently thoughtful about his football to argue the opposite, had he a need, but continues building a sturdy rationale.

"I had spoken to a couple of people the week before. I wasn't surprised. I saw a bit of them in the Connacht game against Brigid's. That day, they didn't really have too many individuals standing out. But just the team effort, the way they stuck at it, impressed me.

"I think, when you see the teams they've beaten to get here, that's testament to them. The Mayo championship is very competitive and Corofin would be very strong. So to beat Corofin and Dr Crokes, that says a lot about them."

This is interview number a million of Mossy's sporting year.

Never before have his thoughts been mined so exhaustively for public consumption.

Partly, that's because he keeps being man of the match in almost every game (seven of nine, by our reckoning) and thus his reaction is necessary.

Partly, too because he's a sort of natural spokesperson for the St Vincent's team he now exclusively represents.

Here, in Croke Park, he is being honoured as AIB's Leinster Club Footballer of the Year, an award in which there's only one realistic contender and so faces another 20 minutes of gentle probing.

(A couple of days after this interview he is volunteered by Vincent's management to be one of their designated speakers at a pre-All-Ireland press night.

If he has an autobiography in the pipeline, it's been thoroughly serialised by now.)

QUERIES

Would he be sitting here as the outstanding player of the provincial club championship looking for new ways to answer old queries had he persisted with Dublin?

"I suppose the facts are I wasn't at as high a level with the club in my last couple of years with Dublin," he concedes.

"I was disappointed with my own personal performances with the club when I was finishing with Dublin, particularly in the latter stages of the Championship.

"This is the first year that I've played somewhat to my potential. So is that linked to not playing inter-county? Possibly, yeah. It might be the fact that I'm with the squad all year and I know the club lads a bit better, particularly the younger guys."

Mossy is 32, so almost everyone else in the Vincent's team is younger than him, but there exists now a new bloom of players who have taken everyone outside the club by surprise during this compelling run.

"I'm not overly surprised because I've trained with them and have seen them develop," he says of the likes of Jarlath Curley, the latest in a smattering of burly full-backs to make himself known in a county where, once, they didn't exist.

Or Cameron Diamond, the flying wing-back (this being a successful Vincent's team, they are almost duty-bound to have a couple of Diamonds in the mix) or Gavin Burke, the shoot-on-sight wing-forward who kicked five points from play off a notoriously mean Ballymun defence in the drawn Dublin county final.

"It's just their attitudes are so good in terms of they want to get better all the time.

"A lot of the young guys coming in, they might have the talent, but if the attitude isn't there, they're not going to get anything out of it. We've seen guys fall down.

"That's the thing that stood out for me. Even in the first few weeks of being around them. You see how much they want to improve and how much they compete. And I think that's what has gotten them to the performances that they've delivered."

Helpfully, too, they have plugged the holes that immediately opened in the last nationally successful team from the club, several of them 'outsiders'.

When Quinn and St Vincent's last won an All-Ireland club title in 2008, their ranks were buffered by Hugh Coghlan (Tipperary), Mícheál O'Shea (Kerry), Brian Maloney and Pat Kelly (both Mayo).

A year later, when Kilmacud Crokes beat Crossmaglen Rangers to become the second Dublin side in-a-row to lift the Andy Merrigan Cup, Longford's Brian Kavanagh started alongside Adrian Morrissey of Wexford, while Liam McBarron, then a Fermanagh panelist, sat on the bench.

It's a prickly subject.

There are clubs not a million miles away from Vincent's upon whom scorn is privately heaped for their level of activity in the 'transfer market'.

A couple of years ago, a prominent official in Laois cried blue murder over the annexing of big talent from small clubs by Dublin teams. This year, Brendan Egan is the sole 'import,' although Éamonn Fennell's Marino origins have, of course, been scrutinised more than Tony Cascarino's Irishness.

CREDENTIALS

Yet, Quinn is adamant that the credentials of those born outside of Dublin who represented the club were never in question.

Moreover, there will be no heightened satisfaction compared to '08 were they to win on Monday, despite almost the entire panel being homegrown.

"I don't think so. Purely because the players you mentioned were so part of our team and part of the Vincent's community. And still are," he explains. "We were playing games in Leinster this year and you go back to the club and Brian Maloney, Pat Kelly, they're back in the club. They're going to the games.

"I saw Mícheál O'Shea on the pitch after the Leinster final so ... some clubs have outsiders who come in and you might see them for a year and then you might never see them again.

"I think those guys were very much part of what we were and still are very much part of the Vincent's family," he concludes.

"I don't think it's any different."


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