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Ambitious Kilmacud want to set record straight

Tommy Lyons

By Jim O'Sullivan
FOR a club so rich in terms of playing resources and facilities, Kilmacud Crokes would have ambitions to match their size.

Just like with the county, football predominates and they can boast of an AIB All-Ireland Club title won 11 years ago under the managership of present chairman Tommy Lyons.

Before Christmas the Dublin side claimed a second provincial title and on Sunday they take on the Connacht champions Salthill Knocknacarra in the All-Ireland semi-final in Longford.

Ciaran Kelleher, son of Dublin 'great' Robbie Kelleher who is involved in the management (he played his club football with Scoil Ui Chonaill), is the team captain. He doesn't agree they have been underachievers, pointing out that they are 'a young enough club.'

"We only went senior in the late 80's and we achieved the All-Ireland reasonably quickly," he says.

"We have only won five Dublin championships (the first in 1992) and to win two Leinsters isn't too bad!"

After winning their fourth county title in 2004, they failed to progress beyond the Leinster semi-final, where they were beaten by Portlaoise in Dr. Cullen Park. Quite simply, they played poorly and were never serious contenders. Kelleher remembers it as a game when they let themselves and the club down. On the credit side, it gave them a powerful motivation starting out last season's Dublin campaign.

"Losing was a huge disappointment for everyone involved. It was the first county championship that a lot of these players had won, and we had been at it hard for two or three years. There was an element of tiredness and maybe even being satisfied with a Dublin championship. Whatever the reason, we fell badly against Portlaoise on the day."

Their opening game was against St. Brigid's, the 2003 Leinster champions. Kelleher rates it their toughest of the entire campaign. It was memorable for the legal battle which followed in regard to the eligibility of one of their players. Once that was cleared up, Kilmacud had a long break, not resuming until after Dublin had been knocked out of the All-Ireland championship. But, despite the drawn out nature of the campaign, it had something of a silver lining.

"We timed it a little better. We took it easy during the summer. We played on four week-ends in-a-row and we got on a bit of a roll. The county final against Na Fianna was another tough game, but we pulled through. At the end of it all, we were fitter and fresher going into Leinster than we were last year. And, it told at the end."

En route, they had a runaway win over the Meath champions St. Peter's, Dunboyne before being taken to a replay by Offaly side Rhode in the semi-final - winning eventually by two points. And, it was just as close in the decider against Sarsfields from Kildare.

"That was your typical game of two halves. There was a strong gale blowing down the pitch and we were five or six points up at half time. It was always going to be a case of whether we could defend that lead. We didn't score for the first 25 minutes of the second half and we had a lot of wides.

"Eventually we got two points in the last few minutes and just hung on."

It's a relatively young team, with Kelleher at 26 one of the 'older' players and Dublin player Ray Cosgrove the eldest at 28. Cosgrove's experience has proved invaluable, agrees Kelleher. "He has hit a rich vein of form over the last few months. Hopefully we can keep it going after the long break. It's difficult not having played for two and a half break, but it's been the same for the other sides, having to train away through Christmas. But, there is a big carrot at the end - the chance of playing in an All-Ireland final."

They know enough about their opponents - from seeing their games on TV and personal knowledge of 'household names' like Michael Donnellan and Maurice Sheridan to recognise they face a mighty challenge.

Their preparations have included challenge games against third level and county U21 teams. As Kelleher points out, no other club sides other than the four semi-finalists are training at such a high pitch at this time of the year.

"It's hard to know if you're ready or not!"

 

Ambitious Kilmacud want to set record straight

Tommy Lyons

By Jim O'Sullivan
FOR a club so rich in terms of playing resources and facilities, Kilmacud Crokes would have ambitions to match their size.

Just like with the county, football predominates and they can boast of an AIB All-Ireland Club title won 11 years ago under the managership of present chairman Tommy Lyons.

Before Christmas the Dublin side claimed a second provincial title and on Sunday they take on the Connacht champions Salthill Knocknacarra in the All-Ireland semi-final in Longford.

Ciaran Kelleher, son of Dublin 'great' Robbie Kelleher who is involved in the management (he played his club football with Scoil Ui Chonaill), is the team captain. He doesn't agree they have been underachievers, pointing out that they are 'a young enough club.'

"We only went senior in the late 80's and we achieved the All-Ireland reasonably quickly," he says.

"We have only won five Dublin championships (the first in 1992) and to win two Leinsters isn't too bad!"

After winning their fourth county title in 2004, they failed to progress beyond the Leinster semi-final, where they were beaten by Portlaoise in Dr. Cullen Park. Quite simply, they played poorly and were never serious contenders. Kelleher remembers it as a game when they let themselves and the club down. On the credit side, it gave them a powerful motivation starting out last season's Dublin campaign.

"Losing was a huge disappointment for everyone involved. It was the first county championship that a lot of these players had won, and we had been at it hard for two or three years. There was an element of tiredness and maybe even being satisfied with a Dublin championship. Whatever the reason, we fell badly against Portlaoise on the day."

Their opening game was against St. Brigid's, the 2003 Leinster champions. Kelleher rates it their toughest of the entire campaign. It was memorable for the legal battle which followed in regard to the eligibility of one of their players. Once that was cleared up, Kilmacud had a long break, not resuming until after Dublin had been knocked out of the All-Ireland championship. But, despite the drawn out nature of the campaign, it had something of a silver lining.

"We timed it a little better. We took it easy during the summer. We played on four week-ends in-a-row and we got on a bit of a roll. The county final against Na Fianna was another tough game, but we pulled through. At the end of it all, we were fitter and fresher going into Leinster than we were last year. And, it told at the end."

En route, they had a runaway win over the Meath champions St. Peter's, Dunboyne before being taken to a replay by Offaly side Rhode in the semi-final - winning eventually by two points. And, it was just as close in the decider against Sarsfields from Kildare.

"That was your typical game of two halves. There was a strong gale blowing down the pitch and we were five or six points up at half time. It was always going to be a case of whether we could defend that lead. We didn't score for the first 25 minutes of the second half and we had a lot of wides.

"Eventually we got two points in the last few minutes and just hung on."

It's a relatively young team, with Kelleher at 26 one of the 'older' players and Dublin player Ray Cosgrove the eldest at 28. Cosgrove's experience has proved invaluable, agrees Kelleher. "He has hit a rich vein of form over the last few months. Hopefully we can keep it going after the long break. It's difficult not having played for two and a half break, but it's been the same for the other sides, having to train away through Christmas. But, there is a big carrot at the end - the chance of playing in an All-Ireland final."

They know enough about their opponents - from seeing their games on TV and personal knowledge of 'household names' like Michael Donnellan and Maurice Sheridan to recognise they face a mighty challenge.

Their preparations have included challenge games against third level and county U21 teams. As Kelleher points out, no other club sides other than the four semi-finalists are training at such a high pitch at this time of the year.

"It's hard to know if you're ready or not!"