Tuesday 20 March 2018

Facing Dublin felt strange -- Kennedy

Former Blues selector hails 'phenomenal' DCU victory

Gary Kelly celebrates after team-mate David Byrne scored their side's winning point
Gary Kelly celebrates after team-mate David Byrne scored their side's winning point
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Michael Kennedy admits to a slight conflict of emotions over DCU's O'Byrne Cup success against Dublin on Sunday.

Kennedy was an integral part of Jim Gavin's back-room team which brought the Allianz League, the Leinster championship and the All-Ireland title to the capital, but he recently stepped down due to pressure of time and commitments.

The Tyrone native is also the DCU's director of GAA so he had a double interest in the exciting clash at Parnell Park which the college side won 3-8 to 0-16.

Was it strange being in the opposition camp against Gavin's men?

"Absolutely," said Kennedy. "Having worked with them last year and the last few years, it's always odd (to face them). It's great though.

"At the end of the day you always have to aspire to go out and play against the very, very best in terms of Gaelic football so, look, these guys are really, really up for it and just to get the chance to play against them was huge, from all aspects.

"People say colleges shouldn't be in the O'Byrne Cup but it's phenomenal that a college team can go out and perform at that level and come through.

"Collectively, it's great for these players from all the various counties."

Kennedy admitted it wasn't an easy decision to quit his role as a selector with the Dublin camp but apart from work, he is studying for an MBA at DCU Business School.

"Ach, it's always hard. I have great respect for the lads and it's my life and soul," he said.

"It has been for the last number of years. But something has to give at times. It was a big, big decision and a very difficult one."

However difficult it was to part with the Dubs, Kennedy and all concerned with the DCU camp are gearing up for the semi-final against Meath in Navan.

College examinations this week have to be prioritised by players, but they won't dilute their ambition to reach the O'Byrne Cup final for the fourth time in six years.

DCU have won the Cup twice and after taking out the Dubs, they are in the mood for more success over a county side.

"Meath will be another big test. We have a good few players from Meath as well. It is a great opportunity and another step," said Kennedy.

The big prize for DCU is the Sigerson Cup. DCU began playing in the competititon in 1990, and have won it three times -- in 2006 under Bryan Cullen's captaincy, and again in 2010 and 2012.

Kennedy equates a college win with a Sam Maguire Cup.

"For DCU to win a Sigerson would be phenomenal. Certainly it would be right up there with winning an All-Ireland," he said.


"I think the big thing about that is that all of these players are coming from different counties and just to see the way they gel together.

"They go back to play for their respective counties and their respective clubs but just the fact that they come together as a team, there's something special about that and for us to see that happening, and to be part of that development, is great.

"If we were to get through it would be great but it's one step at a time.

"We have a big challenge -- IT Tralee are playing NUI Maynooth and we have to play the winners of that. They're not going to be walkovers either. It's one game at a time and we'll see where we go from there."

And what about the Dubs' prospects for the season? Kennedy is optimistic.

"There's no team, I'm sure, that is going to be as well prepared going forward as Dublin. The new players coming in are going to create an impetus and certainly they're going to push the established lads really hard.

"That's the secret I think. Last year a lot of players came in and they got their chance and they stepped up. A lot of players who were in the panel last year developed phenomenally as well.

"No doubt the same is going to apply this year," he said.

Irish Independent

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