Jonathan Commins celebrates scoring a goal in last year's MFC final. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
He's not your typical 16-year-old, TY student, Jonathan Commins. A supremely talented sportsman with a very intelligent head on his shoulders, he's a marked man in more ways than one.
When news of his 2-13 tally in last year's Minor Championship final emerged, to a national audience via websites like Balls and Joe.ie, he not only became a local sensation on the back page of this paper but a hit country-wide. For the record, a week prior to starring at the Gaelic Grounds, he fired 1-9 in his club's - Ardee, St. Mary's - U16 decider with St. Fechin's.
Asked if his aspiration is to play with the Louth seniors in the future, the son of former Sean McDermott's player, Martin, gave a response which was as insightful into his character as much as anything else.
“If I'm good enough, hopefully,” he said. Modesty, almost embarrassment at the level of his achievements and abilities, is his thing.
On Monday, he will get his first taste of the Leinster Championship when Louth face Dublin at Parnell Park. A trip to the lion's den, perhaps. But to say that Commins doesn't believe a victory is possible would be contrary to fact. He's unequivocal about their chances. He's in it to win it.
“I suppose that's what we're in it for (to win). Playing with the Mary's all the time, it's kind of the way we are; we're used to winning and we'll be trying to do that with Louth as well.”
He reveals that last year's outfit, who became the first Louth side to reach a Leinster minor final since 1973, are the example this season's team want to follow. Club-mates, county colleagues and close friends, Carl Gillespie and Tom Jackson, both had brothers, Conor Gillespie and Liam Jackson, on Wayne Kierans' side 12 months ago.
“I think it's (last year's ‘success’) an extra motivation because a lot of people were talking about them and thinking, maybe, that they weren't going to be any great shakes and they went on and got to a Leinster final.
“We want to follow-up what they did. That's the way everybody (in the camp) is speaking.”
And, like a valve, Commins let down the intensity of a conversation that spanned from his feats in Athletics - in which he has won four Community Games gold medals, numerous Athletics Ireland awards and a place on the Leinster development panels - to what he wants to do post-Ardee Community School.
A miscellaneous topic drew the focus back to the start and of his incredible scoring return last October, and of how he's become a marked man. Sledging, unfortunately, is something he has to deal with on an ongoing basis.
The idea that other teams are giving him special attention was “always kind of there”, according to the former Louth U14 Player of the Year, “but it's got a lot worse recently.
“I get a lot of it in my ear about the minor final,” he says, adding: “Down in Longford there the other week, there was a fella following me around and talking to me all game; trying to get under my skin I suppose.
“I don't really mind it, I think as a forward I always try to get the last laugh over him. I just leave him,” he said wryly.
Dublin, likely, will have close eyes on both himself and captain Dáire Nally - son of former Louth 'keeper, Colm, in their upcoming fixture. This despite the Tom Rooney/Malcolm McDonnell-managed side having an abundance of riches field-over.
Looking back on the minor final, after starting the match brightly, Commins was "probably the least nervous (he) ever was on a football pitch”. He felt that he “could do anything”. It was almost a flashback to his childhood days and playing in the back garden with elder brother, Cian, himself an accomplished footballer.
Perhaps the brothers will be in the garden this evening, as Jonathan prepares to unleash himself on the Dubs!