Three All-Ireland titles. Two All-Star nominations. One crucial All-Ireland goal. Zero All-Ireland final starts. Kevin McManamon knows what number grates most and he intends setting the record straight this season.
Reckoning the ‘super-sub’ tag ascribed to him has become “a bit boring”, the 29-year-old intends being a regular starter at the business end of Dublin’s season this year.
“It’s a big bullseye for me. I want to do something that I’ve never done before and that’s be a big player for 70 minutes rather than what I’ve become accustomed to or what management have decided for me. Circumstances have decided as well – players playing better than me in the All-Ireland series – but there’s no doubt that that’s the goal.
“You mention big players and then you have renowned starters every year — I would love to get in to one of their spots. It would be a nice little feather in the cap if you could get in ahead one of the guys who are seen as the greats. It’s a sticky forward line, no denying it. (I) like a challenge.”
McManamon revealed he has spoken to Jim Gavin about being held in reserve although Gavin has mentioned before the validity of finishing out games with his strongest team. “I get on well with Jim. He’s a guy who will always listen to your opinion. He will thrash it out with you. I can absolutely say it to him, I have said it to him.
“I would feel that the solution is down to my application and down to me playing well in training in August and September which I haven’t done in years. Sometimes it’s a bit lazy to say – the reason he is not starting me is because I make an impact. That’s not the case, I feel like I’m in control of it.”
The St Jude’s man had surgery on a shoulder in November. Although he is close to a return to action, he must compete a fitness test before Saturday’s Allianz Division 1 opener against Kerry.
He’s been a regular performer in the O’Byrne Cup but is hoping the later start may assist him this year. “I like it and I like games and I like playing in the mud as well but it’s just not for me this year. I need to find a different avenue this year of how to get something out of myself because trying to deliver a little more in the last two or three months of the year is something I would be looking to do.”
For a player who has turned up for Dublin when it has mattered most, it may sound unusual for McManamon to admit he suffered from nerves in Croke Park in his debut 2010 season. “It’s nice to be able to play against the big teams. It’s something I found very difficult — when I started my career — was to play in Croke Park. I found it a little daunting. Particularly in 2010. I didn’t deal with the pressure very well. I was very nervous.
“I learned how to deal with it and by 2011, I think I got five games in Croker that year and that was it then. That was it banished. That was the monkey off my back. I embraced Croke Park rather than have any edge of doubt or worry in my game. All I wanted at that point was to play a championship match for Dublin. So I could have one up on my Da! All I ever wanted was to play for Dublin.”
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