Dundalk Young Irelands' Dermot Mone. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
Dermot Mone’s knowledge of Kilbeggan Shamrocks is limited and typical of Dundalk Young Irelands’ mentality: their only focus being personal.
The Christy Bellew Cup winners make the trek to Westmeath on Saturday seeking a place in the Leinster junior quarter-final eight years after their last provincial sojourn was ended by Kildare’s Ballymore Eustace, a Haggardstown outing where Mone was at No. 15.
They led that match in the early stages, with Mark Savage finding the net, before falling to a fairly heavy reverse.
On the back of a surprise intermediate success in 2010, Young Irelands were perhaps content with their efforts, but the situation is different this time around. Their aims are lofty and backed by a season of ferocious preparation.
“Adrian (O’Donoghue) was very clear at the start of the year, he expects to win every game so nothing has really changed. Leinster and even an All-Ireland has been on his radar from the start of the year,” Mone told The Democrat.
“You’ll be doing well to find a team in junior, intermediate or senior that has worked as hard as us this year. We were playing at a lower grade, but in terms of the commitment and dedication in training, we have been second to none.
“As the saying goes: ‘the more the practice, the luckier you’ll get; the more you give, the more you’ll get’. Small strokes of fortune have helped us along the way, but I think there is more foundation behind it that has been a driving contributor to our success.”
The fortune he speaks of was paramount to their junior double win. ‘Keeper Fergal Sheekey’s saves at critical stages of their respective league and championship matches against Na Piarsaigh and Roche Emmets were topped by Peter Nixon’s miracle intervention in the Dowdallshill final against Glyde Rangers.
Thus, he feels it is unfair to tarnish their success as being lush with luck, rather their quality and effective style of play held the key as they regained their intermediate status after a one-year exile.
For Mone, often left lonesome when his team are without possession, their system has taken time to adapt to. However, it has brought results and fitted the team’s profile.
“I’m only close to the goals because I’m a lazy…,” he quips.
“It’s like any system, people have their own perceptions. For us, Adrian is very much of the mindset that if we’ve a strong defence we can build from there. There is a saying in American football: ‘defence wins championships.’
“Sometimes you can be a bit isolated up forward, but I don’t think any more so than if you were going man for man. We’ve got guys like Cian O Naraigh, Jordan O’Donog- hue, Derek Maguire and Peter Nixon, a half-back line that are just busting through and supporting every attack.
“Once we’ve got those guys coming through, it makes our job a lot easier.”
Since resuming training in the week after the championship final, all eyes have shifted towards the next task, where, Mone feels, some pressure will be off.
But, have no doubt, they’re heading west with only one outcome in mind.
Full-back Ciarán Murray is expected to miss out through injury.