Eric Lowndes. Pic: Inpho

Now a firm fixture in the Dublin senior football line-up, Eric Lowndes is in flying form a few days ahead of the boys in blue’s latest assault on the Leinster title on Sunday.

They are gunning for what would be an eighth consecutive provincial title should Jim Gavin’s side defeat Laois at Croke Park.

The St Peregrine’s clubman recalls how his day job colleagues reacted to the huge cheer from Hill 16 he received as a late replacement in last year’s All Ireland semi-final against Tyrone.

The cheer was a case of mistaken identity: Lowndes looks a little like Dermot Connolly, who at the time was on the bench, set to return from a long suspension.

“We had a thing at work and one of the lads got me a mug with my face that turns into his when you put the hot water in. There’s a bit of a resemblance there,” he jokes.

There’s some fun memories to be had about the Meath rivalry, too. “All of my lineage is Meath and Westmeath. We played them twice in the All Ireland finals [at age group level],” Lowndes says of the Meath link.

“It was interesting in school, St Peter’s in Dunboyne, sitting next to guys who I’d be playing against in English class. I wasn’t marking any of them or anything, we all played in defence. They did ask me to bring the cup back to the school though. That was slightly awkward.”

The final, though, is serious business, even if it has become run-of-the-mill for the fans in recent years.

“We know how difficult it was for Dublin to get their hands on the Leinster title for so many years,” Lowndes says of the provincial title’s meaning.

“When I was growing up, Dublin weren’t winning Leinster Championships on the regular. It’s still a massive celebration for us. We’re all aware success goes in cycles, it doesn’t last forever.”

Lowndes own place in the side has become more established this year but with John Small and Davey Byrne both on the way back from injury, he’s about to face some serious defensive competition for the blue jersey.

“Everyone knows we have a lot of competition in there, a lot of guys who can play all over the pitch. When you get in, it’s about doing your best, and getting to keep the jersey as long as possible.

“When we’re going training, we’re all aware that whoever’s performing well is going to play. It’s great when you’re in that position, and it’s up to someone else to get in.

“There’s a lot of experience coming back. I suppose I have to just keep performing in training and at games, and driving it on, driving the standards.”