Bastick benefits from ability to adapt

ALL-IRELAND SFC FINAL: WHEN DENIS Bastick says he can walk around Dublin completely unrecognised, that no one at work even bothers…

ALL-IRELAND SFC FINAL:WHEN DENIS Bastick says he can walk around Dublin completely unrecognised, that no one at work even bothers him for All-Ireland tickets, etc, he's not trying to be modest.

Truth is when he walked into Parnell Park for the Dublin media evening last week some of us had to check with each other that it was definitely him.

If reflects perhaps the new generation of Dublin footballer – or at least contrasts with some of the older ones. Bastick may hold down one of the key positions for Sunday’s showdown with Kerry, but he’ll go about it with the minimum of fuss, workmanlike and almost anonymous-like. That’s partly by accident, partly by design.

Indeed players like Bastick have every reason to believe that hype is just a four-letter word. He was 14 when Dublin last played in the All-Ireland football final, in 1995, and had no great interest in being there.


And while Sunday’s opposition may line up with enough All-Ireland honours to last several generations, Bastick is no more or no less daunted. Like the rest of the Dublin players he’s waited long and patiently for this All-Ireland, and knows how important it is not to let the chance slip.

But while much is being made of the fact that most of the Kerry team have forgotten more about playing in All-Ireland finals than other counties will ever know, Bastick has one advantage on some of his Dublin team-mates in that he’s recently played in one too.

The difference, however, is that it was actually the All-Ireland junior football final, in 2008, which Dublin won under then manager, Mick Deegan.

Given he never played minor or under-21 football for Dublin, hails from Templeogue/ Synge Street, and his family background is more hurling orientated, it’s something of a surprise Bastick ever ended up on the Dublin senior team, playing, at age 30, in their first All-Ireland final in 16 years (and that’s the accident part). But he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I think junior football is a great competition,” he says. “You’re putting yourself in the shop window, getting a bit of exposure to intercounty football, and that’s what the players did in 2008. If you look back at it, we had a great team, a great management, and a great panel. You got myself, you got Eoghan O’Gara, Mick Fitzsimons, Darren Daly, on the panel as well. So it brought on a good few of us.

“Unfortunately the way Dublin is set up the senior championship players aren’t eligible. It’s a lot tougher against some of the counties like Kildare, who can play all the players they want.

“But I got a few chances after that, a few opportunities under Paul Caffrey, and I think maybe I was a bit naïve at times. I don’t think I took them, or gave myself a good enough chance at that stage, so things have looked up since then.

“I suppose I never gave up the hope. I was always trying to remain positive, trying to improve myself and hoping the window would open and luckily enough it did, and it makes me appreciate it more.

“I was playing football all those years but wasn’t making the breakthrough. I know it’s going to be a huge challenge really, playing Kerry, but then I appreciate it greatly as well.”

One of the first big chances Bastick did get, with the Dublin seniors, was in the 2009 championship, when he appeared to nail down the full-back position, until – like the rest of his team-mates – everything unravelled against Kerry in the All-Ireland quarter-final: “Well actually I enjoyed it (playing full back). Any day you go out and you’re playing for Dublin it’s an honour, so I really enjoyed my time there, until the last game.

“I’m sure a lot of guys are disappointed with how the match turned out, but I think we needed to move on. Kerry are an unbelievable team, so we’re going to have to focus on this one, not anything that happened in the past.”

Bastick might well have ended up playing for the Dublin hurlers, at least if his relations in Camross in Laois had any say in it.

Several of his uncles played for Laois, most famously the Cuddys, PJ, Ger, Martin and Seán, and more recently Packie Cuddy, while Damien Culleton is his first cousin, as well. But football was always his game.

“It was at St Joseph’s Primary School in Terenure. They got me involved, when I was around 11 or 12 but I suppose at that stage you’re not as serious. There are lots of other things going on as a young lad. I was playing a small bit of soccer as well, but that was it.”

His pure and unfussy style of football is what he brings to the Dublin midfield. Bastick knows he’s holding off perhaps more traditional midfielders, such as Eamon Fennell, Ross McConnell, but knows too the role of the modern midfielder is less about specifics and more about adapting (and that’s the design part.)

“I’m grateful I’m in there at the moment, and don’t underestimate the quality of players that are there looking to get in, and will get in some time to play. But gone are the days where midfield is a jump-out between four fellas. Now you’re talking about eight or 10 fellas around the middle, and I suppose that does suit me.

“Against Donegal (semi-final) it was very strange, not contesting kick-outs at all, but that’s the tactic they used, and used it very well. But every game is different, so it’s about being able to adapt.”

From his days as a junior footballer to his current status as Dublin senior midfielder Bastick has never been anything less that adaptable.

Denis Bastick

Position: Midfield.

Age: 30.

Club: Templeogue / Synge Street.

Occupation: Financial Advisor.

SFC debut: 2009, v Meath

Honours: 4 Senior Leinster; 1 Junior Leinster; 1 Junior All-Ireland.