"There are 14 other lads to do that. Just get me the ball and I'll win the game for you" 1 year ago

"There are 14 other lads to do that. Just get me the ball and I'll win the game for you"

When a lad plays senior for his county before his club, you know there's something special going on.

Cian Johnson is something special, and that's been known in Offaly since he was very young.

As an underage player, he was the best in the development squads. As a school-boy, he almost single-handedly drove his school, Gallan Communnity School, to an All-Ireland title kicking 1-4 of their 1-6 total in the final in Croke Park.

As a minor, he kicked 2-7 in the county final and then in the Offaly colours he hit Wexford for 2-6.

This train has been coming down the tracks a long time and in the Faithful they were just counting down the days.

Stephen Wallace just couldn't wait another one. Johnson hadn't yet played senior for Ferbane yet the Kerryman - Offaly's manager for 2018 - had him in during the O'Byrne Cup.

Johnson didn't fare too badly mind, hitting 1-9 from play in two games against Wexford and Dublin. Not bad for an 18-year-old. Not bad at all.

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On Thursday, Johnson was on The GAA Hour Show and he told the story.

"I was playing with the Offaly minors so I wasn't really training much with Ferbane. Then the first round of the Offaly championship was played and I didn't start so I played with the intermediates that evening and I had done well and I was just flying it for the intermediates and we were doing unreal, they didn't want to take me away so we got to the county final - and it was nearly too late to go back in with the seniors, and then I was called up to Offaly..."

The O'Byrne was as far as it would go in 2019, as the Offaly county board ruled that Johnson should stick with the under-20s for the year. But we won't be waiting much longer.

Just two weeks ago, Johnson came of age for Ferbane. He came of age as a senior footballer. The 20-year-old, starting in his first county senior final, hit 2-3 from play as Ferbane defeated Rhode to bridge a 25-year gap.

"25 years is way too long. It's only my second year with the seniors but I've been listening to people saying Ferbane need to win a senior since I was 14. So it feels like forever..."

"I grew up winning. I started playing minor when I was 15, I played in four minor finals. We're after winning the last three under-20s in a row, we are coming..."

Ferbane are coming. And so is Cian Johnson. He knows it too.

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This is a player who has confidence flowing out of him. He wanted to play senior last year. He knows he's going to make a difference this year.

"It's been a long two years waiting, I'm delighted to get the green light to finally go," he said.

Colin Kenny had a stat that Cian Johnson didn't have a wide ball in knockout football this season. Johnson retweeted it. He doesn't care about the pressure.

"It is an accurate stat. They're the kind of standards I set myself, I'd be disappointing with anything less. I know everyone kicks wides but I practice shooting before training, after training. I'd go to the pitch on my own with a bag of balls. So when it comes to the match, it's just second nature.

"I'm an inside forward - scoring is my job. Everyone else does the donkey work to get the ball into me so when it comes in, I have to produce. I'm a poacher. I like to stay close to the goals and if anyone sees me chasing a lad outside the 45, they'll start screaming at me to go back in because they know I'm no good out around the middle..."

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"I know there's this working hard and all that, but there's 14 other lads to do that. Just get me the ball and I'll win the game for you!"

"Alright, when I let a corner back go running up the pitch, there'll be a few lads roaring and shouting, but when I stick it in the net, they don't mind!"

"I never get nervous before a game, it's always just excitement. It's all about the big day, I love going out and showing people how good I am and showing off my skills, especially in a final when there's so many people there and it's such a big event..."

"I know going out playing for Ferbane - I know I'm going to need five or six points to get us over the line and that's just the way it is. I don't feel any pressure, I know I'm going to get five or six chances in a game so it's just up to me to take them," he said.

It's taken plenty of hard-work, but Johnson is mad for it.

"When I was a young lad, nobody ever told me to work on my right foot. Any time I'd get the ball, it's just left foot, left foot, left foot. Last year, we got beaten 1-18 to 0-10 by Rhode and I was looking at Niall McNamee and Anton Sullivan kicking points off both feet - I was like I need to get up to that level.

"So I set a reminder on my phone - it was the score 1-18 to 0-10 and it went off at 6.00 every day. I'd go outside my house and kick the ball up against the wall for 15 minutes. I seen a dramatic improvement. I think I got 4-24 from play in championship this year, and nine came from my right foot.

"The mother's head is wrecked with the paint coming off the wall, but she was happy enough at the weekend so she'll be alright!"

On Sunday, Ferbane take on Wicklow champions St Patrick's. The Pat's corner back would want to be on his game.

You can listen to the Johnson interview and much more from The GAA Hour Show here.