LEINSTER MHC FINAL:
Dublin v Kilkenny
‘Good luck, boy’. The parting salute is pure Waterford as Pat Fanning hangs up his phone.
A Na Fianna clubman and Dublin resident these days, the son of the former GAA President of the same name doesn’t attempt to hide his roots, proudly explaining how he hurled for Waterford before moving up to play and work in the capital.
If you’re still in any doubt about his heritage, type ‘Pat Fanning Dublin’ into a YouTube search and have a look at the first video that comes up.
It’s of the school principal addressing a group outside government buildings two years ago on the issue of cuts in education funding. He is wearing his Waterford GAA jacket.
Tomorrow, however, he can play a large part in creating Dublin hurling history. If both the minors and seniors win their Leinster final ties against Kilkenny, Dublin will hold the two titles for just the fourth time ever and for the first time in the modern era.
It would be fitting if Fanning was there in a central role on the day considering how he set several current senior stars on their way.
“One of the first Dublin development squads I was involved with had Johnny McCaffrey, Joey Boland and Shane Durkin on it,” explained Fanning.
“It’s been great to see those guys coming through because those guys would have been U13 back at that stage, that’s well over 10 years ago. They’ve got their Leinster medals now and they’re not finished yet.
“The whole thing has been slowly progressing, year by year. Dublin has come a long way overall. All the signs are right for the future too because of pure hard work, don’t let anyone tell you anything else.”
In a remarkable hurling season so far for Dublin, they will also contest the Leinster U21 final next Wednesday.
Fanning isn’t getting carried away, however: “It’s certainly an indication of progress but the real indication will be how many of those three matches are actually won,” he said.
That’s a fair point as those who have followed Dublin’s minor hurlers over the years will attest. Before the 2005 breakthrough — it was Dublin’s first Leinster minor win since 1983 — they lost their previous four finals and two more have slipped by since.
To avoid losing another tomorrow, 2011 and 2012 champions Dublin need to be more tuned in than they were against Wexford in the semi-final. They trailed by two with as many minutes remaining but, somehow, conjured three late points.
Eoin Ó Conghaile, the man who sniped a terrific winner and two of those three scores, has been held in reserve again. When the sides last met in April, Dublin hammered the Cats 2-8 to 0-3. Aside from progression, that result did little for Dublin only put them at the centre of Kilkenny’s cross hairs.
“Five minutes after that game ended we told them that wasn’t the real Kilkenny,” said Fanning.
“Kilkenny were hammered in the media, on the internet forums, they were told they were a disgrace to the jersey.If they’re not plotting revenge I’d be very surprised.”
Good luck, boy indeed.
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