Ballymun hunger can snatch title -- Rock
DUBLIN GAA legend Barney Rock rolls back the years to long-forgotten matches and epic encounters between his beloved Ballymun Kickhams and Kilmacud Crokes.
Back in the day, Ballymun and Crokes were among the up-and-coming clubs on the Dublin football scene and the rivalry was intense.
As the players who embody the best qualities of these respected clubs prepare for tonight's Dublin SFC final, Rock will take his seat at Parnell Park with the pulse beating a little faster than it might have done, even when he was a player.
It gets like that for any parent of any player on such a big occasion, but for Barney and another former Dublin star, John McCarthy, there's a little more involved, as their respective sons Dean and James go into action.
Rock and McCarthy Snr were at the heart of the trend and tradition set for Ballymun back in the '70s and '80s. Those were the days of youth and relative innocence for Ballymun as they became a force to be reckoned with on the capital's football scene.
And almost side-by-side, matching Ballymun's development, were the southsiders from Stillorgan, Kilmacud Crokes. "We were a young Ballymun team coming through back in 1978 when we won senior status," said Rock.
"The group that came through included John Kearns, Dermot Deasy, Anto McCaul and Gerry Hargan.
"In those days, we always seemed to be competing against Kilmacud, as both teams were emerging. We played Vincent's in the senior championship final in 1980, but lost. Then we won it in 1982 and we won it again in '85.
"While that was happening, Kilmacud were playing catch-up with us, because they didn't really come through in terms of winning a senior championship until 1995.
"We had great battles in the '80s against them, but in the '90s, they took off. Hopefully, now we've started to come back level, but there's no doubt that you couldn't ask for a tougher team to play in a final than Kilmacud."
Ballymun manager Paul Curran is another link with the past. Back in 1989, he helped Thomas Davis break the heart of Rock and the Ballymun side in the last previous appearance in the final by Kickhams.
Perhaps Curran can do Rock Jnr a good turn and orchestrate a victory this time? Barney certainly hopes so.
"If you're going to win a county championship, you're going to have to play the best at some stage, and I'm sure the lads are looking forward to playing Kilmacud.
"If there's anything that will give Ballymun an edge, it's the hunger of the lads to win a championship medal. They will respect Kilmacud, but they won't fear them."