Lahiff and St Judes aiming to take the final step to the Dublin summit

Midfielder will see the final against Kilmacud as a chance to press his claims with Dublin boss

When the Dublin team was named for the 2020 Leinster final, it was all looking good for Tom Lahiff.

At 25, he was just in the door with Dublin yet was quickly making up for lost time, starting their first two championship games in midfield and retaining his place for the Leinster final.

At the 11th hour, however, Lahiff's name was crossed out for the provincial decider against Meath and he didn't feature again in the campaign as Dublin went on to complete the six-in-a-row.

A year on, and having featured as an impact sub throughout this year’s league and championship, Lahiff looks back on it now as simply another stage of his curious development.


He came to elite-level Gaelic football late, focusing on soccer initially and making it as far as first team training at Bray Wanderers before figuring that his dreams were unlikely to be realised in that sport.

"Growing up as a kid, soccer would have been one of my main sports and playing in England, or playing for Ireland, would have been my dream back then," said Lahiff.

"As it wasn't coming to fruition, I wasn't enjoying my soccer as much as I was the GAA and then I just decided I'd drop the soccer altogether and give the GAA a bit of a crack."

Maybe that's why while Lahiff has excelled on the club scene in recent seasons with St Judes, earning his Dublin call-up on the back of his strong 2020 summer form and powering the Templeogue side to this Sunday's Go-Ahead Dublin SFC final against Kilmacud Crokes, it has taken a bit longer for him to master inter-county football.

“With the GAA, the biggest thing would have been my decision making – I would still have had a soccer mindset,” explained Lahiff of his transition.

“Some of your skills then like catching obviously and your kicking from the hand and soloing would have been all fairly weak because obviously with soccer you are keeping the ball on the ground and you are not used to using your hands at all.

“Yeah, I definitely had to work on my skills and I suppose my strength as well was the second thing. You wouldn’t get as many bangs in soccer as you would in the GAA, so it was probably about building a better base strength and improving my conditioning and then, along with the basic skills of catching, soloing and all of that stuff, you look to improve and it did over the course of time.”

That patience and commitment to long-term improvement stood to Lahiff when he suffered the axe midway through his debut season of 2020.

“Once I got dropped or whatever, I was very disappointed but then you’d have to sort of just check yourself and say, ‘look, you’ve come from nowhere, you’ve got two starts so don’t be getting your head down too much, rally again and try to get back in for the next game’,” said Lahiff.

Many changes

“Obviously the team were playing well and there weren’t that many changes from that point of view so yeah, it was a disappointment not to be involved from then on [in 2020] but at the same time, to go from not playing at all to starting was something I was proud of as well.”

Club football was the window through which Dublin manager Dessie Farrell spotted Lahiff last year and Sunday's final offers another opportunity for him to impress. Chances are Farrell is open to the idea of change right now and potentially even to rebuilding a new team following this year's failure to land the All-Ireland.

“Look, after any defeat there is always going to be a period of reflection just to look back on the year and to see what changes or improvements can be made,” said Lahiff. “So of course anyone who was on the fringes will be looking to have an improved opportunity next year.”

Lahiff was part of the Judes team that contested the 2018 Dublin decider, losing to Kilmacud Crokes, Sunday’s opponents.

“We let the occasion get the better of us back in 2018,” admitted Lahiff, who hopes now is finally their time.

“We’ve been consistently in the top four in the last number of years. There’s no medals for top four so it’s just about trying to get over that final hurdle now and pick up the silverware.”