Dublin forward Ciaran Kilkenny is looking forward to a summer of fun riding the blue wave.
But while the forward is naturally keen for a famous five in a row of All-Ireland wins, he’s also got a new sporting passion that he’s keen to indulge: surfing.
Kilkenny picked up the surfing bug while on a month-long holiday to Australia and New Zealand last winter and upon returning, bought his own board and got lessons.
He revealed it’s become part of his routine now, particularly on the day after big games with Dublin, to hit the big waves.
“I generally try to go the day after a game, because you get a bit of a recovery in too,” said Kilkenny, who is a schoolteacher and off for the summer.
“Even for the head, it’s great to go to a place like Bundoran, or Strandhill or Lahinch, the sea breeze, it’s great to go down and get in the water and up on the board.
“Obviously I’m focusing in on different things that I can improve on as a player. But it’s a great opportunity in the summer to be free, so I can go to the sea for a swim, I can go to the pool, I can do extra skills sessions, I can really hone in on becoming a better person, a better player for the team.
“I’ve a friend from Switzerland who was trying to give me lessons on how to paddle. Then I went out with a friend from Tyrone recently who was giving me a few lessons as well.
“I’m getting a few lessons from people and trying to hook in with experienced surfers because my Mam was kind of giving out to me, saying, ‘You better not be going off surfing on your own’. So I’m trying to hook in with people who know what they’re doing.”
A versatile performer, who is returning to his score-poaching roots after a period as a ball-carrying playmaker, Kilkenny said he’s happy with his form after the extended winter break.
He struck a point against Louth in Dublin’s first game of the summer and added three more last weekend against Kildare, securing a Leinster final clash with Meath.
The Castleknock man revealed that while in Australia he met plenty of professional Irish players and mined them for information.
“I met up with Nicholas Walsh (former Cavan footballer) who is also over there, looked at St Kilda training sessions and then outside of that met up with a good few of the Irish guys,” he said. “I ended up playing golf with Conor McKenna who is with Essendon and Tyrone, and Darragh Joyce who is with St Kilda and Kilkenny.
“I played a bit of golf with them and just chilled with them, tried to learn as much as I could from those guys which was really, really interesting.”
Kilkenny was among a group of Dublin players who helped carry the coffin at the recent funeral of county legend Anton O’Toole.
He described it as a ‘special experience’ and spoke of the obvious and ‘iconic bond’ that still exists between O’Toole’s former team-mates.
“It was pretty special,” said Kilkenny.
“My Dad’s club was Synge Street and Anton’s club was Synge Street. For me, it was so special. I took the coffin off Kieran Duff and passed it on from my area to Kevin Moran. Just a really special thing to do, very honoured to do it and to be there.
“There is a picture of the Synge Street team — I think it’s from a game that Vincent’s beat them in — and you had Anton and in the background my Dad was there and beside him was Maxi McManamon, Kevin McManamon’s Dad, and in the front row was Brian Scully, who is Niall Scully’s Dad. It was pretty cool to see that.”
Ciaran Kilkenny is a brand ambassador of Sure, official statistics partner of the GAA who have launched their 2019 campaign. The partnership, which has entered into its 2nd cycle of a 3 year partnership, promises to empower GAA fans with a deeper understanding of the components of success by breaking down individual and team statistics through conversation, head to head analysis and easy to digest infographics that explore and expose the numbers behind the performances that set the Championship alight.