Sunday 22 September 2019

Lowndes keen to keep good times rolling for all-conquering Dublin

Dublin's Eric Lowndes. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin's Eric Lowndes. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Dublin defender Eric Lowndes is preparing for a Leinster SFC final clash with Laois but had things worked out differently, he might have thrown his lot in with Meath.

His parents hail from the Royal County and are based in Dunboyne. His brother Stuart plays club football with St Peter's Dunboyne and recently lined out in the O'Byrne Cup for Meath, having previously played in the competition for Dublin against the Royals in 2015. Growing up, Lowndes was immersed in stories of Seán Boylan's side.

"Meath were really successful when I was young. I was born in '94, Meath won an All-Ireland in '96, '99 and beaten by Galway in 2001. I was kind of raised on stories of Meath heroes from the past, even the generation before that, the '87 and '88 team and all that kind of stuff. The uncles and cousins and the whole lot would have been mad into it."

So who does his family shout for now? "They don't support the Dubs anyway," Lowndes (pictured) smiles. Still, despite the blurring of the lines it's always been pretty straightforward for the Peregrine's club man in terms of where his loyalties lie. Dublin were always his first choice. And he even ended up playing against some of his schoolmates when Dublin beat Meath in the All-Ireland MFC final in 2012.

"I never played club football in Meath or anything. I went to school in Meath, played Meath schools football and Meath colleges football but no, never was a prospect or never was thinking about playing for a club team in Meath or playing county football in Meath or anything."

Dublin drafted him into the senior panel when he was just out of minor in 2013. At that stage, Lowndes was a talented dual player. He lost All-Ireland hurling and football finals in 2011 as a 17-year-old. He'd lose again in the hurling decider in 2012 before finally seeing off Meath in the football final that year. And when he was drafted into the football squad, he realised quickly that he had an ocean of work to do physically if he was to survive.

"I've grown up a lot for a start, obviously. I was a skinny 18-year-old in 2013," he laughs. "Physically in terms of preparation and things, I've learned a lot over the last few years about how to get your body in good shape and be ready to turn up and to perform, and to compete against guys who are seasoned athletes at that stage.

"You know physically yourself on the pitch when you're competing with guys, you know when you're first to the ball or if there's a guy nudging you off the ball or whatever it is. Everyone knows that there's a massive step up between playing inter-county at minor level and then even at 21s and into senior level then, so I suppose it's a natural progression that everyone has to make."

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Lowndes made his championship debut in 2015 when he came on for Jonny Cooper against Longford and has known nothing but winning seasons since. And having started both of Dublin's championship games, he's hungry for more success when Laois visit HQ on Sunday.

"It's still a massive honour to get a Dublin jersey any day regardless of the competition or the day. Whether you are an U-13 playing on a local field in Blanchardstown, it is a massive honour to get that opportunity. We are all from that province, we know what it represents and we know how hard it was for Dublin to get their hands on it for many years.

"When I was growing up Dublin weren't winning Leinster Championships with any regularity. It was a massive celebration back then and still is for us. We are all aware of the transitions in counties and how success doesn't last forever so we are all driving it on."

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