Success all relative for Dublin's golden generation

They say no-one knows the son quite like the father, though it must be getting increasingly difficult for the elders of Dublin football to identify with their sons’ remarkable achievements.

A third of the Dublin team that will shoot for an historic three-in-a-row of All-Ireland titles in 2017 — we’re including the returning Jack McCaffrey in this group — are the offspring of former Dublin players. And all of them have long since eclipsed their fathers’ feats, each collecting more All-Ireland medals than their dads and having the potential to add several more.

That’s saying something, considering players like James McCarthy and Bernard Brogan had such big boots to fill. But they’ve stepped right in and walked tall. Dean Rock, McCaffrey and Kevin McManamon have seen their father’s achievements and raised them.

People might be surprised to hear that McManamon is the son of a former Dublin player but ‘Maxi’ McManamon, a renowned Templeogue Synge Street club man in his day, represented the Sky Blues at all levels, including senior.

The claim that Dean Rock is more successful than his famous father Barney might raise a few eyebrows, considering Barney finished up his career as a three-time All Star.

Dean has just the one, from this year, though crucially has three All-Ireland medals tucked away to Barney’s solitary success in 1983.

So a case can quite easily be made for all five of those players leaving their dads in the shadows, instead of the other way around as often occurs.

Jimmy Keaveney, who played with John McCarthy and Bernard Brogan senior in the 1970s and against Maxi McManamon at club level, isn’t so sure that the sons necessarily shine brighter than the fathers though.

“They have lived up to their fathers for now but they probably have to do it for a few more years,” said Keaveney. “It’s a bit early now to say they’re better than their fathers. You might say ‘but sure haven’t the sons all won more All-Irelands?’

“But if you’re going back to the 70s you’re talking about a team that was built from the ground up. We weren’t coming in off a background of winning Leinster every year. Dublin had been down in the dumps for years. I’m quite sure what we did would have rubbed off on the present lads.”

Mick Galvin, an All-Ireland winner with Dublin in 1995, said last year that Dean Rock still has some ground to make up on Barney as a free-taker.

“He (Dean) is a great free-taker but Barney was very special now, to be honest,” said Galvin. “Off the ground, either side, Barney was very, very good. He (Dean) might prove to be better but at the moment I’d say no.”

Perhaps after the season just gone, Dean’s best yet, Galvin may have changed his mind. Keaveney is sticking to his guns though.

“Sure Barney was a great player, young Dean still has a bit to prove on his father there,” said Keaveney.

There’s no great dispute in the McManamon household, Kevin is streets ahead of the old man. Christened Martin, Kevin’s father is known as ‘Maxi’ and played league football for Dublin in 1971/1972. Interestingly, he also won a ‘home’ All-Ireland junior title with Dublin in 1971 alongside Templeogue Synge Street club mate and future senior great Anton O’Toole, a feat that would be repeated by club men Denis Bastick and Eoghan O’Gara in 2008.

“I played against ‘Maxi’, he was an excellent footballer, very good at club level,” said Keaveney. “Kevin has all the class of the father.”

Noel McCaffrey, Jack’s dad, only won Leinster medals with Dublin, losing out in the 1985 All-Ireland final against Kerry, though his All-Star award in 1988 underlined his talent. He won the All-Star as a half-back too but lacked the frightening pace of his son.

Bernard Brogan Senior and John McCarthy could claim that any comparisons between them and their sons are duff. They played in different positions after all, James a defender and John an attacker while the elder Bernard Brogan was a midfielder of renown compared to his son’s forward wizardry.

The senior duo also competed at a time when Dublin revolutionised the game under Kevin Heffernan, though Bernard junior has four All-Ireland medals and has been crowned Footballer of the Year. Those statistics are hard to argue with whatever way you look at it. James has four too and but for injury this year looked a decent shout for Player of the Year after a fine league.

Keaveney, a three-time All-Ireland medallist himself, isn’t giving this one up easily though.

“Another point I’d make is that from our point of view, a lot of us were in our late 20s when we started winning All-Irelands and got maybe six or seven years out of it then,” said the St Vincent’s man. “The lads at the moment have come into a winning team younger so have the ability to move well above what their Dads would have won.

“The other thing is Jim Gavin, he’s the best manager I’ve seen since Kevin Heffernan was over us. The discipline he brings to it is first class. You can see why those lads are thriving and I don’t see any reason why they have to stop here.”


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