Dundalk Young Ire­lands in fi­nal

The Argus - - SPORT - JOHN SAV­AGE

DER­MOT Mone is en­joy­ing ev­ery minute of Dundalk Young Ire­lands up­turn in form and for­tune as the old­est club in the land pre­pares for a Le­in­ster fi­nal this week­end.

A win over Of­faly cham­pi­ons St Brigid’s at the Gaelic Grounds on Satur­day (1.30) would crown a fairy­tale year for Mone and his team­mates, who were pretty much down and out this time 12 months ago fol­low­ing a dou­ble rel­e­ga­tion.

‘This time last year we had 13 or 14 boys up at train­ing, that’s why we got rel­e­gated. But now there’s 24 or 25 up ev­ery night and it makes it all the bet­ter and there’s a bit of craic again too.

‘We lost the very first game of the year against Dunleer and de­served to lose it. The lads were com­ing back like Derek [Maguire] and Mark Sav­age and we hadn’t just clicked into this sys­tem we’re play­ing this year, but that was a prob­a­bly a cat­a­lyst. We took a long look at our­selves af­ter de­feat and we didn’t want an­other year like that so we kicked on from there and got some mo­men­tum.’

Ru­mour even has it that new man­ager Adrian O’Donoghue floated the idea of a Le­in­ster run way back be­fore a ball was kicked in anger last Feb­ru­ary and if that sounds a bit crazy af­ter the sea­son they had just en­dured, Mone in­sists it was ex­actly that kind of pos­i­tiv­ity that trig­gered the turn­around.

‘Every­body who knows Adrian knows he’s a bit loopy any­way!’ he jokes. ‘But Adrian sets his sights on things and do­ing that af­ter the sea­son we had los­ing ev­ery game bar one, it was a com­plete change in men­tal­ity and we went out ex­pect­ing to win ev­ery game. That’s been a key driver in how we’ve per­formed this sea­son.

‘In the Cham­pi­onship there were a few per­for­mances we wouldn’t have been happy with, but com­ing into Le­in­ster we seem to have hit form at the right time and hope­fully we can carry that form into Satur­day’s game.

The Ire­landers have shown both their re­silience and flair on the provin­cial stage, ek­ing out a nar­row win in West­meath, be­fore send­ing Laois champs An­nanough home from Dow­dall­shill with their tails be­tween their legs. Then came a tricky semi-fi­nal hur­dle in New Ross against Kilkenny out­fit Tul­logher Ros­ber­con and Mone feels it’s been a char­ac­ter-build­ing jour­ney.

‘We knew the West­meath boys had a few good play­ers and we just got over the line. We were well ahead, but didn’t kick on and they even missed a penalty with the last kick of the game. We had a few for­tunes of luck be­tween the late in­ter­cep­tion in the Louth fi­nal and them miss­ing that penalty, so again we had a look at our­selves.

‘With Laois next we thought it would be a much tougher game than it was, but you have to just take it one game at a time, even though that sounds like a big cliche,

‘Com­ing into these Le­in­ster games it’s hard to know what to ex­pect. Adrian I’m sure looks at match re­ports and the like, but it’s hard to know who the dan­ger men are and what style of foot­ball they play. There was a lot of talk that we’d beat Kilkenny handy be­cause they are a hurl­ing county, so you’re try­ing to block that out.

‘The con­di­tions were hor­rific, but we got off to a good enough start and they came back into it. At half-time we weren’t that happy so we knew the first 10 min­utes of the sec­ond-half could be de­ci­sive and thank­fully we kicked a cou­ple of scores and it made the dif­fer­ence.’

Der­mot ad­mits that like the pre­vi­ous rounds he knows very lit­tle about St Brigid’s but he doesn’t need a full scout­ing re­port to know they’ll be a good side.

‘We don’t know much other than they’ve come this far, so they’re go­ing to be a good side, and ev­ery bit as good as us. But we just have to con­cen­trate on our­selves. We have a full squad to pick from and in some of the games this year the guys com­ing off the bench have been the dif­fer­ence, par­tic­u­larly the West­meath game, so hope­fully it will be the same on Satur­day.

‘We’re go­ing to en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence. Even if we weren’t in a Le­in­ster fi­nal we’d be nearly get­ting ready for pre-sea­son for next year so it’s great to have a bit of mo­ti­va­tion.’

it was a com­plete change in men­tal­ity and we went out ex­pect­ing to win ev­ery game.

Der­mot Mone forces a save from An­nanough goal­keeper Sean Hen­nessey dur­ing their Le­in­ster quar­ter-fi­nal clash at Dow­dall­shill.

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