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Mannion says playing in an All-Ireland is easier than watching one

Paul Mannion celebrates with the Sam Maguire cup
Paul Mannion celebrates with the Sam Maguire cup

Paul Mannion believes playing in an Al-Ireland final is easier than watching one after the forward helped Dublin beat Mayo to retain the Sam Maguire cup.

Mannion took a break from the game last year to do some travelling but he was back in Ireland to watch Dublin beat Kerry in the 2015 final from Hill 16!

A year on and he was named in Jim Gavin's starting team to defend the trophy.

"I was on the Hill, in the rain last year," Mannion said. "It was great, I loved it - it was my first time on the Hill, really. I had been there before (as a player) in 2013 so I know that feeling, what it’s like and the fun the lads are going to have in the weeks after so there was a bit of jealousy, but no regret.

"This year was easier! Watching on… On the pitch you don’t feel the nerves as much because you’re just focusing on your job - you’re not in the same sort of mood as the people in the crowd. Playing is easier."

Mannion admitted that the Dublin players were mentally preparing themselves for extram time as Cillian O'Connor stood over a free to level the match in injury time.

"We said on the line ‘let’s get ready for extra-time, so we were getting our head around that. Cillian O’Connor is a phenomenal free-taker, but it was a difficult kick. I was surprised to see him miss it and it’s tough for him, but we were delighted."

Mannion said nothing can match the intensity of an All-Ireland final.

"The intensity is like something you can’t imagine. Training can only prepare you so much - when you get out there it’s a completely different feeling, a completely different level.

"I was out of breath the whole time and it’s extremely difficult. It’s an All-Ireland final so we said before we went out that we’d absolutely empty ourselves and the lads were there to come off the bench to finish the job and they did that."