My Club: Kevin McManamon - St Jude's
In this week's 'My Club' feature, Dublin footballer Kevin McManamon tells us all about his club, St Jude's GAA.
Based in the south side Dublin suburb of Templeogue, St Jude's GAA Club was founded in 1978, a time when the reach of the city was expanding and football fever was gripping the capital in the wake of the Dubs' success under Kevin Heffernan.
Jude's is now a thriving club, based at Wellington Lane in Templeogue, catering for a huge number of teams in Gaelic football, hurling, camogie and ladies football. The club's pitches are located in nearby Tymon Park.
Jude's compete at senior level in hurling and football, and while they are yet to win a Dublin county title in either code, they are one of the most consistently competitive clubs in the Dublin SHC and SFC.
The club's senior football team reached the Dublin SFC in 2009 and then reached the semi-finals stage in each of the next four years, while the hurlers lost county finals in 2014 and 2015.
With three All-Ireland SFC medals to his name, Kevin McManamon is undoubtedly the best known player to wear the navy and blue jersey, but his older brother Brendan has played for Dublin, while 2013 hurling All Star is also a Jude's man, though he is not currently playing inter-county hurling.
For more information on St Jude's, log on to the club's official website.
GAA.ie: How did you first get involved with St Jude’s?
Kevin McManamon: Initially, there was a spot, Orwell Green, where we all went down and there were guys called Joe McDonald and Bobby McCarthy involved, and I would have played with them first. I was playing since I was young, but I was also playing with Templeogue United soccer team and I would go from one team to the other and try and get two games in on a Saturday. I used to go down to the basketball court as well with mucky knees so I tried to get involved in as much sport as I could growing up. That was my introduction to the nursery, which was on Orwell Green but now we have a lovely all-weather facility built right beside the clubhouse.
GAA.ie: Do you have other family members involved in the club?
K McM: My brother, Brendan, obviously played for Jude’s but my Dad, Maxi, was a Templeogue Synge Street man so he has always been involved with them and still is to an extent. He was involved when they (Synge Street) amalgamated with Templeogue at the time to form Templeogue Synge Street. He’s a big GAA man and was hugely involved with them.
GAA.ie: How did you end up playing with Jude’s in that case?
K McM: We were born in Templeogue and my father brought us initially to Synge Street but there weren’t enough young players and teams there at every level so we went up to Jude’s with our friends and got involved. After that, Synge Street and our other rivals Templogue amalgamated with Synge Street. If it had been thought through, we probably would have been involved with Templeogue Synge Street but myself and Brendan are Jude’s men now fully, while my younger brother Seán had been in and out playing but he’s more into music.
GAA.ie: Was your older brother Brendan the player you looked up to at the club?
K McM: He was always a big player around the club and is a very likable fella, very popular in the club. I would always have gone watching his games. But we also had guys like Enda Sheehy and Enda Crennan, who played for Dublin, and was a guy I always looked up to. When Brendan initially got into the Dublin set-up, though, that sharpened me and I was always thinking how much I would love to play with the Dubs. I got to play a few games with Brendan in 2010 and 2011 so that was a nice thing for me and the family.
*GAA.ie: Were Jude’s one of the clubs that was founded in the post Kevin Heffernan football explosion in the city? *
K McM: Yeah, it started in 1978 but it took an awful long time for it all to come together and there was a lot of hard work done with the local schools, Bishop Galvin and Bishop Shanahan national schools and St Mac Dara’s Secondary School. It exploded in the 1980s and we just started to get some success in the 1990s but it was a slow process and there was a lot of work done to build it up. It was the mid 2000s before we won a championship at any level – it was Junior D, and I am glad to say I was a part of that.
GAA.ie: What year was that?
K McM: It was 2004 and the reason I remember that is because it was the day of my 18th birthday and I was having my 18th birthday party. It was a nice celebration.
We called ourselves ‘The Dream Team’. I was just out of minor and myself and a friend of mine, Darren Gallagher, were roped in out of that team to play with the old lads. Great memories.
GAA.ie: Did you progress to the senior team fairly quickly after that?
K McM: We had five teams at the time and I actually played for all five of them because I had to work my way up. I started with the Junior C team in the Junior D championship and then I slowly graduated to Junior A. I had a couple of years playing Intermediate - a few good years in Division 3 actually – until I finally made the senior football team. I learned a few things along the way, put it that way!
GAA.ie: Did you enjoy any success with the club at underage level and were many of your contemporaries involved with Dublin underage teams?
K McM: To be honest, I was always getting trials with Dublin but never really made the breakthrough. Our U21 team did win a championship in 2005, although the final was played in 2006. On that team we had Niall O’Shea, our captain that year, and he was one of the best players ever to play for the club and he’s sadly missed since he went over to Australia. That was a good bunch of young players, a year ahead of me, but we haven’t been able to convert it into a senior victory just yet, but maybe some time in the next few years.
GAA.ie: Did you ever play hurling with the club?
K McM: I played a bit until I was minor but I wasn’t up to much. I actually liked it and was fit at the time but I wouldn’t have been as slick or as brave as some of the other guys at the club. I never played at county level or anything like that, I was just there to be part of the craic in the club.
GAA.ie: Have you followed the senior hurling team’s progress over the last few years?
K McM: Absolutely. They put a different emphasis on the hurling in the last few years and have made great strides. They’ve come so close to winning the county title and I think there’s a championship in them. I also think there’s a championship in the footballers too and I’d love to see that before I pack in the boots.
GAA.ie: How do you assess the footballers’ chances in the Dublin SFC this year?
K McM: We have a new management team in charge this year and I’m very excited about that. Pádraic Monaghan, a Mayo man and an old manager of mine, is in charge and he's very passionate about football and has great knowledge. He was with us a few years ago and so I am looking forward to working with him again this year.
GAA.ie: Who are the well-known faces in the senior football set-up this year?
K McM: We might have Danny Sutcliffe back playing with us this year now that he’s not playing inter-county. We have Chris Guckian and Colin Murphy who would have played for Dublin over the years and then we have a couple of lads from other counties, including Mark Sweeney from Antrim.
GAA.ie: How close have Jude’s come to winning a Dublin SFC title in your time?
K McM: We lost the final in 2009 and then we lost three semi-finals in a row and this year we were beaten by Na Fianna. But it’s a new start for us this year and we’ll see how it goes.
Losing the 2009 final was a fairly bitter experience. I thought we played well but we were just outfoxed a little bit by Ballyboden, who had a lot of the guys that are still there going for an All-Ireland title. It would have been a nice one. We had a great journey that year and we still have great memories of it, but it’s time to create a few new memories now.
GAA.ie: How strong is the underage set-up at the moment?
K McM: There is a huge amount of work being done up in the nursery at the moment and I’ve been up a few times to see it. Through the ages, we have good coaches and there is a lot of coach education work bring done too. Gareth Roche, who is a recently retired senior footballer, is involved with the senior team and he is doing a lot of work in the education side of things. Geraldine McTavish is also doing great work through the schools. It takes time and we have gone back to basics but I think the work will pay off and we’ll see some very good players coming through.
GAA.ie: What are the facilities at the club like? The main base is in Tymon Park, right?
K McM: Yeah. A lot of our pitches are actually from the council so we have a lovely clubhouse and we have a big fundraising drive at the minute where we are redoing the pitches and putting in nets. We got some great grants to do the work so there are big improvements going in there at the moment so it will be a top class facility once we are done. It will be a lot slicker.