McManamon far more than a bit-part player for Dublin

Goalscoring forward’s name will be to the fore whenever Dubs’ decade of dominance is recalled

You could argue that Kevin McManamon was his own worst enemy, providing such compelling evidence, so early in his Dublin career, of his remarkable ability to change games from the bench.

The freshly retired eight-time All-Ireland medallist railed against the supersub label, of course, and as early as his first major interview after scoring that goal against Kerry in 2011, made it crystal clear that he wanted to become a regular starter.

He never quite managed it though and a decade on, one statistic from his inter-county career sums up just how things went for McManamon; from his 59 championship appearances for Dublin, he started and finished just nine of those games.

Six of those nine games were comfortable wins in the Leinster championship while the latter two were the Super 8s dead rubber ties against Roscommon and Tyrone in 2018 and 2019.


Try as he might, and boy did McManamon try, he simply couldn’t nail down that regular spot that he craved with Dublin.

The St Judes man did catch lightning in a bottle in 2016, starting all seven of Dublin’s championship games that summer, but his best run aside from that was three championship starts in a row in 2012 and 2014.

For whatever reason, the jet-heeled, barrel-chested, goal-poacher simply wasn’t viewed as a 70-minute man.

That’s not to attach an asterisk to his Dublin career – the truth is that in decades to come, McManamon will be one of the first names to be mentioned when Dublin’s decade of dominance is recalled. His goals against Kerry, in 2011 and 2013, weren’t just game-changing or season-defining but epochal.

He scored 8-47 for Dublin in total in the Championship, 3-30 of that delivered in his 22 games as a starter and 5-17 coming as a substitute in 37 appearances from the bench. Throw in his 73 National League appearances and you have a 132-game competitive career in blue.

Sports psychologist McManamon missed the 2021 season due to his commitments in Tokyo with the Irish Olympic team so his last appearance for Dublin – the county his brother, Brendan, and father, Maxi, also played for – came in the 2020 Leinster final win over Meath.

One of the best tributes to McManamon and his longevity, came from Limerick's Graeme Mulcahy. He too is an impact sub these days, coming off the bench in the All-Ireland final win over Cork and doing his best to emulate the 'complete lack of ego' displayed by McManamon.

“That’s it exactly, a lot of players mightn’t react well to not being on the starting team or not featuring as much as you would like,” said Mulcahy.

"But I'd always look at him and, even back when I was in a more regular starting position with Limerick, I just had admiration for how he'd always carry himself. He was so positive coming on and just wanted to give his all. The time and effort he put in behind the scenes as well must have been huge, just to feature for those 10 or 15 minutes here and there."

McManamon himself, who recently competed in the Dublin SFC final, exited the stage by revealing his pride 'that my playing days have lasted so long and brought so much joy', thanking county managers Pat Gilroy, Jim Gavin and Dessie Farrell for their input along the way.