Ex-Dublin defender relishes Leinster success he “didn’t think was going to happen”

RORY O’CARROLL entered the Leinster final on Saturday with things other than football in mind.

Kilmacud defender Crokes was a colossus in the back of their victory over Naas, rolling back the years to a place where he spent many great days in the Dublin blue.

His wife being very pregnant, one of his teammates mischievously informed him after the final whistle that he had missed the big moment.

“Someone was ending it by saying the baby was born so he almost had a heart attack after the game,” smiled Crokes manager Robbie Brennan.

“He’s just unreal, his wife was due yesterday, I think.”

After taking a sabbatical from his career in Dublin and Kilmacud to live in New Zealand for four years, he was not there for his club’s previous trip to the provincial championship in 2018.

O’Carroll returned the following year and, after spending two seasons on the outskirts of the Dublin panel, he left the setup and chose to focus on Crokes in 2021.

“When you play between counties you kind of feel like it’s not your fault, but that the club’s game is being neglected,” admitted the double All-Star. “And that is probably due to the systems in place, the fixture list and the schedule.

“Fortunately, things seem to be improving in the future. Hopefully they will stay that way. So yeah, right on the moon.

“As Paul Mannion told us before the game, there is no bigger and better stage than coming to Croke Park with your club, fighting for a Championship trophy.

“So yeah, I didn’t think it was going to happen. But the fact that it did, I’m just going to take advantage of it.

O’Carroll and a number of young players weren’t there for the loss to Mullinalaghta three years ago, so it wasn’t widely discussed before this game.

“Robbie mentioned it on Thursday in our last practice before today that basically a lot of guys were there in 2018 but a lot of guys weren’t there either.

“It’s not really about that. You cannot replace a championship. This championship is gone. It’s done and dusted off. You cannot replace it. You just have to move on and keep looking to the future.

“Maybe there was a bit of redemption for some people on an individual level, but it wasn’t really a collective thing.”

With star striker Paul Mannion now likely to miss the All-Ireland semi-final against Connacht champions Padraig Pearses, O’Carroll says his side cannot dwell on their absent.

“It’s a shame Paul wasn’t able to retire today. Ben Shovlin was also a last minute drop out due to Covid. Padraig Purcell has had shoulder surgery.

“There are always injuries in football and sport. Especially with the pandemic, people are even more likely to drop out.


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“It’s something you just have to adapt to. He’s the next man. While we miss all the players who weren’t there, we can’t dwell on it.

“There was a starting team today, one on the last day and a different one the day before. So I guess it will be different the next day again.

“That’s why we just have to keep driving in training. Everyone feels like they’re going to play the next day, no matter where they are or where they think they are on the squad.

And the latest news from his future wife?

“Incentive Tuesday,” he smiled.

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