Thursday 14 December 2017

Club ambition burning bright within Dolan

Former Roscommon star is still hungry for success with St Brigid's, writes Marie Crowe

Marie Crowe

Marie Crowe

It's been 14 years since Frankie Dolan won his first Roscommon championship with St Brigid's and in that time he's added another five to his tally as well as two Connacht titles.

He's 33 now and has had a colourful career that sometimes saw him grab the headlines for all the wrong reasons. For the last few years, though, he has stayed out of the news and even if that hasn't always been the case, it's certainly the way he wants it now.

Back in 2006 when Brigid's beat Corofin to win their first Connacht title, Dolan received an eight-week ban for an altercation during the game with Jimmy Sice, who at that time was the Corofin chairman.

When an incident during that game is mentioned in this interview, there is silence, followed by Dolan saying with a good sense of humour, "Oh do you mean Karol Mannion's last-minute goal?"

Then he laughs and explains how what happened that day is not going to be an issue when the two teams play each other again today in another Connacht club final.

"We've played them loads of times in challenge matches and it is water under the bridge. I didn't miss any football; I was back in time for the All-Ireland semi-final so it was okay."

And Dolan is wiser when it comes to all aspects of his behaviour -- he wants to prolong his career and he knows that means he has to look after himself on and off the pitch.

Running drills that he used to find easy now take a lot more out of him so he makes sure he gets rest and recovery. He's been adopting this approach for two years now and feels that his fitness has come on as a result.

But that doesn't mean he has any intention of returning to inter-county football. Two years ago, he was asked back onto the Roscommon panel but made the decision to concentrate on the club.

"County football is a young man's game but your occupation plays a big part in how long you can play for," he says. "There is so much time taken up when you are playing at that level. I even see young lads in college and they are struggling to keep up with their work because of the travelling they do for training and all the weekends that are given to it."

Des Newton was appointed the new Roscommon manager last Thursday night. Dolan was surprised when Fergal O'Donnell stepped down but understands why he felt it was time to go.

"Knowing Fergal and the time and effort he put in, his decision makes sense. Once he stopped playing county football, he went straight into managing club teams in Roscommon and then he got involved in the minor set-up and went straight into senior. That's a lot of time dedicated to football and he has a young family. But I think he has left Roscommon football in a good way."

Having stepped away from the county scene, Dolan finds that he appreciates the club a lot more, he is more focused on what they are trying to achieve.

Right now, Dolan is concentrating on Brigid's, especially after losing the All-Ireland final to Crossmaglen by a goal on St Patrick's Day.

"A lot of lads took a fair bit of time to get over it," he says. "We expected to win but I think we let ourselves down. We didn't play the way we wanted to play or could have played and that was the most disappointing thing. Playing in an All-Ireland final you have to be on top of your game and we were probably at 90 per cent and that wasn't good enough."

Getting back to Croke Park on March 17 next year is in the back of Dolan's mind but he isn't letting those thoughts distract him from the task in hand.

Today they play the Galway champions in a bid to add a third Connacht title to their honours list. It's the end of November and his side are still putting in the work but having the chance to win a provincial title makes the tough winter games worth it.

"If we were told we had to play on Christmas Day, we'd play on Christmas Day.

"We are together a good few years at this stage and we are used to long seasons. It's not a major burden, we just get on with it and we want to win."

St Brigid's v Corofin,

TG4, 2.0

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