'Mark's a Dingle man through and through... it's a bonus' - Geaney

Dylan Casey, Austin Stacks and Barty O’Sullivan, Dingle in action during the Garvey’s County SFC Quarter-final in Austin Stack Park on Saturday evening. Photo by Domnick Walsh / Eye Focus
Dylan Casey, Austin Stacks and Barty O’Sullivan, Dingle in action during the Garvey’s County SFC Quarter-final in Austin Stack Park on Saturday evening. Photo by Domnick Walsh / Eye Focus

Damian Stack

Any manager would jump at the chance to work with a player like Mark O'Connor in similar circumstances.

O'Connor is a special talent. When he came back to Dingle last week there was always a chance he'd feature for his club this weekend, following in the footsteps of Tadhg Kennelly who so often donned the black and amber of Listowel Emmets during his AFL career.

"Mark is only back four or five days, came back last weekend and Mark's a Dingle man through and through," Dingle boss Seán Geaney told us after the match on Saturday evening.

"And like I said to the team during the week that if Mark wasn't over plying his trade over in Australia he'd be driving this team here. It was a bonus, it was a huge bonus to get him involved, because he's a great attitude, but he's a superb player and the players really respect him.

"We're delighted to have him. He was on [Kieran] Donaghy a couple of years ago and look he was only sixteen, seventeen years of age at the time and you know he learned from it and I thought he was excellent against Star today.

"Star could have been suffering a small bit from [the flight] and it wasn't ideal preparation for him either, but look Mark had a job to do and he did it excellently."

The job O'Connor did on Donaghy was a big part of the reason why Dingle were able to do what they did against the Rockies, but as good as O'Connor was this was a whole team performance.

"I'm delighted, absolutely thrilled," Geaney said.

"We know ourselves nobody really was giving us much of a chance here today. We had to dig deep after the East Kerry game and fellas have shown fierce character since that game.

"Today was the kind of day where we got out of the blocks early, we were up for it and the start obviously when we got a goal of two there it gave us a cushion. An excellent first half.

"We knew Stacks were going to come, you knew they were going to throw the kitchen sink at us and it was worrying there at the start of the second half, they pegged back four or five points and all of a sudden we were under pressure, but then we kicked the point, was it Tom O'Sullivan, a great point and that steadied the nerves a small bit.

"We might have played a small bit defensively, but when you're dealing with the likes of the Stacks and Star and Shane O'Callaghan and [David] Mannix and all these fellas who could score you have to play a small bit cute and that's what we did."

For Stacks boss Wayne Quillinan it was a disappointing way to end a season of real promise.

"We got the goals against South Kerry in the last game and the goals [today] did kill us, but the thing that killed us more was that they [Dingle] looked hungrier than us and they out-worked us more," he said.

"That probably led to some of the goal and that killed us more. We've got a mantra in the team that we never get out-worked and I just felt that we got out-worked in the first half and we spoke about it at half-time and we spoke about it and we did put in the performance that we needed to show battle and show heart."

Stacks did show a lot of battle in the second half when they scored five on the bounce to make the game a competitive proposition again for a time.

"We could have been [in the game], but there's a lot of ifs and buts there. The way it panned out, like we said, just show the pride in the jersey, keep fighting, keep battling, keep chipping, we didn't want to win the game in the first ten minutes, keep chipping the scores, trust our process, but unfortunately we came up short.

"You look at our age-profile it's very young, it's one of the remits we gave ourselves this year it's the youth and we started with five guys who were minor last year, but it's fine to say that this year, we need to step up and progress again next year. There's plenty of potential in our dressing room, there's loads of potential. I firmly believe we've massive potential, but the thing that kills me today is that we didn't show our true potential and we didn't perform the way we want to perform."