Daly delivery worth the wait for Dublin
Dublin corner back keeps low profile around Meath
Dublin’s Darren Daly took some time to get to the top level
Nowhere is the fresh face of Dublin’s football rivalry with Meath more recognisable than in Darren Daly. That’s because Daly is hardly recognisable at all, which is just as well, as he’s actually living in Meath.
Now read on.
Sunday’s Leinster final will mark only his third championship appearance for Dublin, and the first time he’s faced Meath in the senior championship, although Daly is not exactly a fresh face either.
He’ll certainly be recognisable to anyone who remembers the Dublin junior team that won the 2008 All-Ireland, as will other graduates from that side such as Denis Bastick, Mick Fitzsimons, and Eoghan O’Gara.
Get a look in
It’s just taken Daly a while to get a look in at senior level: despite being called into the panel in 2009, only now is the Fingal Ravens player the first-choice corner back, under manager Jim Gavin.
Good things, naturally, comes to those to wait, and yet Daly was always quietly confident that all the cream of that 2008 junior team would eventually rise to the top.
“I always knew the potential in that junior team,” says Daly. “It was just a really good year. Lads were legit to play, and we fairly convincingly won an All-Ireland because of it. We also had Colin Daly on the team. He’s with London now, outstanding for them, in midfield.
“It was also one of the most enjoyable years I ever had in football. The confidence thing was great, getting to play in Croke Park.
“For every lad on that team I think the ultimate goal was to try get into the senior team. You knew that if you were performing well with these you might get a chance with Dublin.
“It was always in the back of my head, to try and knuckle down and do well with these and give myself a chance with the senior team. It was definitely a great stepping stone, a perfect feeder to come into the senior set-up.”
That Dublin junior team did, by the way, also beat Meath on route to the Leinster title (providing the curtain-raiser to the Dublin seniors), and Daly will need little introduction to any of the senior Meath players he’ll face for the first time on Sunday. Fingal Ravens is close enough to the Meath border already, and for the last few months he’s been living in Ratoath, ideally situated for his work as a Health and Safety adviser, at a facilities management company, based in Swords.
“Well, I’d keep a low profile out there,” he says with a smile. “People wouldn’t really know me out there, anyway. Between training and work, I wouldn’t be out there too much, to be honest.”
Nailing down a starting place in the Dublin senior team is no easy feat, such is the now world famous competition for places, and while Daly has been patient, having Fingal Ravens club man Mick Deegan as a selector, under Gavin, hasn’t done him any harm. Deegan was also in charge of the 2008 junior team.
“Yeah, Mick would have been involved with me with Fingal Ravens for five or six years, and brings great qualities to the set-up. He builds great relationships with players.
“But I suppose for me it started by getting more games. It’s a confidence thing as I went on. Every game I was just getting more confident and confident. I’m probably playing that bit better, to be honest. But Jim (Gavin) says he picks on form, and it’s true. Lads that play well get to wear the jerseys. I think that’s good for the team and creates competition throughout the whole team. Everyone’s driving each other on, and that’s key. I’m getting in there at the moment and I’m happy with that.
“That’s the great thing with Dublin, we have a great overall squad creating that competition in training. Our games are tough and you know you’re going to be marking cracking players. It’s great for us to have 10 or so quality forwards, because everyone’s going to be tested at training. There’d be no one off player I’d be marking every week.
“But I’ve been around a few years without getting a championship run. It is every intercounty players’ goal to get out and play championship football. I’ve got the chance now and I’m loving it.”