Dublin footballer Niall Scully talks about his path to senior success, winning an All Star, talk of dominance, meeting Daniel Radcliffe, and much more.
BY SHANE STAPLETON
Niall Scully says doing it for Dessie Farrell was a big motivation ahead of winning the 2020 All-Ireland.
Having claimed a minor All-Ireland together in 2012 and adding another at Under-21 level two years later, the Templeogue Synge St man wanted to complete the set at senior level with his long-time mentor.
Scully had already lifted the Sam Maguire Cup on three occasions under Jim Gavin, so the promotion of Farrell to senior level provided a fresh impetus.
Dublin were on the back of creating history by winning a first ever five-in-a-row in 2019, but went on to make it six after beating Mayo last December.
It was anything but smooth sailing for Farrell in year one, as he negotiated a season fragmented by Covid-19, and had to deal with life as the next man up after Gavin.
Scully finished the season with an All Star and another winners’ medal, and explains the reaction to their latest win.
“It’s very much the Dublin dominance,” says Scully of the theme. “The five-in-a-row and six-in-a-row aren’t things that come into our mind, not something that we’re playing for.
“In fairness to Dessie, he came in and wanted to throw away everything that had happened in the past. I think the 2020 All-Ireland was for him.
“I felt I owed it to him for the five or six years that he’d given me at minor and 21.
“When there’s nearly 85,000 taken out of a stadium you’re going to notice it.
“Not being able to go out with the squad and enjoy it is again something that you’re going to notice but the enjoyment and the feeling at the final whistle was definitely no different than in previous years.”
There are players who come out of a successful underage career and walk directly into the senior conversation.
That wasn’t the case for Scully, who spent a couple of summers playing for McBride’s in Chicago as former manager Gavin put his faith in other options.
“That was just down to not being on the squad more so than anything,” he says of heading away in 2015 and 2016.
“My first intention would have been to hopefully be on the county team but for particular reasons it didn’t work out.
“So I just travelled abroad instead for the summer. No regrets, great summers that I had as well, and like the previous question it’s probably why I’m in a healthy mental mindset in terms of my career so far.
“Absolutely,” he says of fearing he might never have made it with Dublin.
“Plenty of times that would have crossed my mind and I suppose would have been mostly in 2016 and then coming into the 2017 season and playing in that O’Byrne Cup, probably mentally I knew, not knew it was my last opportunity, but knew it was time to give it a good crack and do my best to get on the panel.
“That was the main focus, just get on the panel, don’t mind getting on starting teams or playing in All-Ireland finals.”
Since then, he has gone from strength to strength, and at 26 has plenty more to offer the blue shirt.
When asked to expand on the dominance of the Dubs, he breaks into a wry smile — knowing there’s very little he can say to satisfy people.
“I’ve been waiting for that one! When we were going for five consecutive All-Irelands there was hype being built around us, and that conversation was one we all avoided and didn’t think about and definitely weren’t bringing into the squad.
“Look, people are going to say what they want to say or write that stuff but our mindset is, ‘control the controllables’ and that (talk) is something that we can’t (do much about).
“It definitely doesn’t hurt me and hasn’t yet but we’re here and doing everything within our power and that was something we can’t control.
“I don’t know how to explain the dominance bit,” he says when reminded that he comes from a small club.
“I think it’s just the mindset of all the individuals that have come together over the last five or six years and when you think about the leaders in the squad there’s never a time when you’re not thinking or being challenged or a time that you’re not improving.
“Jonny Cooper, Stephen Cluxton – they’re always at you and making you improve and that’s probably why standards haven’t dropped in training or on the pitch over the last number of years.”
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As part of the AIG Dub Club Health Initiative launched in 2018, Dublin players Niall Scully and Ali Twomey were on hand today to launch the new virtual AIG Health & Wellness portal, which offers free membership for all Dublin club players and members to a unique physiotherapy-led fitness and health online resource that includes virtual gym membership.