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Parnell's set

DAVE Feeney is the man that keeps the show on the road at the Parnell's Palladium.

He's been with the club since six years of age.

It was the man from Templenoe, Jimmy O'Grady, that issued the invitation.

"Who are you playing football for," asked Jimmy of his young Scoil Fhursa pupil. And there it began.

"Jimmy is very much an icon here in the club," says Dave (pictured right), as Parnell's get ready for their big Dublin Bus/The Herald Dubs Stars date on New Year's Day.

Dave will be refereeing the football match. He's hoping the locals don't give him any stick!

He gave them many years of enjoyment playing in the black and green. He was on the side that achieved Dublin and Leinster Championship glory in the late 80's. "We also won five Division 1 Leagues in that time," recalls Dave as he sips his coffee overlooking the main pitch at the venue.

"We had a good side then. And there were great players like Donie Fitzgibbon, Jimmy Bissett, Brendan Brady, Brian Talty, Timmy Cummins and Glen O'Neill.

"We won two Dublin championships, plus a Leinster.


"Leinster was so competitive then. We had draw after draw. You had serious outfits like Baltinglass, Ferbane and Portlaoise.

"They were wonderful times. We'd get huge support.

"We also got to two Dublin finals in 1990 and '91. We lost them both to Thomas Davis."

The videos of the era tell Dave that the game has sprinted on.

"There's no comparison. The footballers today are so much better in every way. It's a different game now."

Dave is still in the thick of it as a referee. He runs daily to make sure there's enough petrol in the tank.

He was a diligent, determined defender. He retired in 1995.

"Paddy Power was onto me for about a year to get involved. Eventually, I did the course with Paddy and Aidan Shiells. And I found the refereeing to be very enjoyable."

This season, Dave took charge of his second Dublin Senior Football Championship final.

"It's an amazing feeling to be out in the middle of the field with the likes of Diarmuid Connolly, Mossy, the Brogan brothers and Ger Brennan. It's a real privilege to get first-hand experience of the particular talent of this era. It gives you a sense of personal satisfaction if it goes well.

"The best advice I can give to any referee is common sense. You'll know when a game reaches boiling point. It's then that you have to draw it back a bit by, perhaps, pulling out a couple of cards. But other than that, it's all about common sense."

Dave understands the value of discipline. He was in the army.

The long hours at Parnell's tumble in quickly. He likes being busy.

And late every afternoon, he puts on the running shows and the head-phones and heads off for a circuit of Coolock.

He doesn't remember much from his first county final between Crokes and Plunkett's. He was so involved in the action that the hour just flew in. And he's now hoping for more of the same when Jim Gavin brings the Dubs to the village.

He feels the presence of the new hurling manager, Ger Cunningham, will add to the appeal of the double-bill. The Dublin hurlers against the Dubs Stars will open the curtain at 12.30. It will be followed by the footballing Dubs.

"It's the first games of the year for Dublin and the fans, so we want to make sure everybody enjoys it.

"It's important that we give the Dublin followers a nice day out. We have put a lot of work into it.

"In fairness, the Dublin County Board have given us some big matches here in the last couple of years, so we are well used to handling big occasions."

Supporters will be able to make a real day of it with a spot of lunch in the splendid clubhouse.

Dublin Bus are running a free shuttle service from Whitehall Church.