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No substitute for being in the starting XV for Fennell

HE was on the pitch when the final whistle blew. And he won the 'hop ball' which sparked off a chain of movement which culminate in Kevin McManamon's winning the free which Stephen Cluxton nailed to win the All-Ireland.

But is Eamonn Fennell happy with his 2011 lot? Not in the slightest.

Those who fear/hope Dublin's defence of their All-Ireland falls short due to the inevitable vacuuming of hunger are wildly mistaken if Fennell's attitude is typical of those of his team-mates. For a man whose entire inter-county career was once in question over his club situation, his ambition to drive on and achieve more is burning brightly.

"I don't want to be on the bench any more," stated Fennell emphatically yesterday. "My main emphasis is to get back into the starting 15 and last 70 minutes.

"I don't want to be coming on and do a job for five minutes. I don't see the point with being a footballer if you're going to be content with five minutes on the pitch. My overall aim would be to get back into the team."

Having played no part in the 2010 championship due to injury and his club situation, Fennell's appearances this year were a massive relief once his transfer to St Vincent's from O'Toole's was assured and various injuries cleared up.

Now though, he wants more. "One of the main reasons I wasn't involved last year was because I had a hip operation," he explained.


"Getting back early and getting all the training sessions is key for me and getting the work done that is needed to be done, will help me get back.

"I was happy enough to play a role this year and there were more lads behind me that could have done the job that I did.

"But what's the point in being a footballer, if you don't want to be the best you can be?"

In a recent interview, Fennell revealed that Diarmuid Connolly had threatened him with severe punishment had he not won the 70th-minute throw-in against Kieran Donaghy which handed Dublin -- and in particular, Ger Brennan -- a reprieve after giving up a needless free as the match entered its fraught closing stages.

"I suppose I was just very lucky to be involved at that time," he said.

"There was Ross McConnell and other lads that could have come and I was just lucky to get the 10 minutes or whatever it was. Ger probably made a stupid mistake. But he'll owe me! I'm sure he'll pay me back in time! It's only when you look back, you realise how important it was."

As for the future, Fennell is ambitious not just with regard to his own status in the team, but also Dublin's continued success.


The Kilkenny hurlers, he says, are the template and Pat Gilroy returning to manage the team for another year, he reckons, is the clearest path.

"All the players wanted him to stay on and the general consensus was that one All-Ireland was great but we want more than one," he insisted.

"We weren't going to get that with players going away and that sort of thing. But Pat knows the commitment of the players and he knows one All-Ireland... the lads want to push for more than one All-Ireland.

"Like the Kilkenny hurlers rather than one of the football teams.

"I think we're all pushing the one direction. There is a massive emphasis on not being happy with one. Every great team over the years -- I know I used the Kilkenny hurlers as an example -- but they're the epitome of what we want to be. I know it's very early to be talking about the team of the decade but we always dreamt of winning an All-Ireland. We achieved that, now let's see what else we can achieve."