HAVING grown up hearing stories about Croke Park and watching footage of dad Miceal’s finest hour, Danny Magill would love to write his own piece of history with Down at GAA headquarters.
Miceal Magill was part of the 1994 All-Ireland winning side, successfully shutting down Dublin star Charlie Redmond as the Mournemen lifted Sam Maguire for the second time in four years.
There has been little to shout about in the years between but, with this weekend’s Tailteann Cup quarter-final against Cavan opening up the possibility of a Championship return to Croke Park for the first time since 2016, the Burren dynamo admits it would mean a lot to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I’ve never played in Croke Park,” he said.
“Every kid’s dream is to play there, whether as a minor, U20 or senior, representing your club or county in Croke Park is the absolute dream. You love going to Croke Park, the buzz of it, the whole atmosphere.
“We’ll take next weekend as it comes and hopefully we can get there.”
Despite starting among the substitutes against Longford on Saturday night, Magill came off the bench to help change the course of a tough evening for the Mournemen – his brilliant 45th minute goal drawing Down level and swinging momentum in their favour as the Midlanders wilted.
“Longford put up a massive fight.
“We beat them here a couple of months ago, and we know [Longford manager] Paddy Christie would’ve been looking for a big response here.
“The fact I didn’t start, you can’t sulk or have a bad attitude, you have to try and be a game-changer. I thought myself, Ross [Carr], Rory [Mason], the boys that came on did awful well – you can’t be sulking, you know you have to make a big impact.
“When Odhran [Murdock] gives you the ball, you sidestep and it opens up, you’re thinking about the point but the more you go on you have to hit the net.
“It was a kick up the arse in all fairness. It was a massive boost for us to get the goal, once you get that then win the next breaking ball, we knew we had the boys then to come on and finish the game out.
“The legs were there, all that work before Christmas and around the new year, it all pays off on days like this.”
And while it is a sign of the dip in Down fortunes during recent decades that they find themselves competing for the Tailteann Cup, Magill says that has had no bearing on the county’s approach to the tier two Championship.
Indeed, since Ulster semi-final defeat to Armagh ended any dreams of moving into the All-Ireland series, the 21-year-old insists sights were swiftly adjusted.
“To be honest, it’s everything.
“Initially the League was the main priority for us, then we knew when we didn’t get up to Sam Maguire after missing out on the provincial final, you have to play the Tailteann Cup – you have to play it with your whole heart.
“You see there with the team we’re putting out, we’re not resting any boys, we’re going at it full tilt. If you’re performing well in training and in club games, there’s Rory Mason shooting the lights out for Loughinisland, comes in… we have to treat this as if it was the Sam Maguire.
“The Tailteann Cup is a brilliant idea because it gives boys football post-June if you do miss out on the provincial, so we’re giving this absolutely everything.”