Tuesday morning, 12 days out from Dublin’s next game in the Championship, and two Ciarán Kilkennys turn up for a media engagement.
The first Kilkenny is talking about Dublin, Diarmuid Connolly, and the challenge of Tyrone and is wary and cautious. At the height of the Championship, he won’t be dropping any clangers that could cost his team.
The second Kilkenny, talking about his life away from football, is open and engaging, his mood visibly brighter, and his answers lengthier and thoughtful.
He tells the tale of his movements last weekend, for example, before and after his leading role in Dublin’s Super 8s win over Roscommon at Croke Park, and the story alone is enough to carry an interview.
“My sister got married at half past one,” revealed Kilkenny, who lined out at Croke Park against Roscommon five and a half hours later. “I left the wedding, missed the speeches and all of that stuff. I would have liked to have heard my Dad give his speech but I had to leave at around a quarter past three so I just about got a few snaps with the family and then literally drove off after that. As soon as the game was over I drove back down to the wedding, so I was exhausted after all of that.”
Kilkenny is reminded that being an inter-county player means sacrifices like these are regular occurrences.
“My sister wasn’t thinking of me when she planned her wedding,” he shrugged.
“Ah I was delighted, it was an emotional day. She’s my oldest sibling so to see her getting married and how happy she was was pretty special. It was a roller-coaster of a day with all the emotion and how much it meant to my family. You go then and play a game and the preparation for that, and the excitement around that as well, it was a pretty special day.”
After shooting two points against the Connacht champions, Kilkenny returned to his sister Aoife’s wedding in Slane in Meath.
The following morning, he and Dean Rock met up early and drove north together to Portrush to follow Shane Lowry at the Open.
He was there green-side at the first for Lowry’s clutch bogey putt that gave him the confidence to go on and capture his first major win.
“We went there early, saw Dustin Johnson, Koepka, Spieth, all these guys, then followed Shane for five or six holes,” said Kilkenny, who plays himself at Castleknock Golf Club. “Then it started lashing rain and I was only wearing a t-shirt so we went in and watched it in a caravan park after that. It was pretty cool to follow him for the five or six that we did and to be there at the first green.”
Lowry exuded poise and confidence from the first onwards though admitted afterwards that he couldn’t stop thinking about lifting the Claret Jug throughout the round. Can Kilkenny identify with that inner battle to stay in the moment as Dublin inch closer to the fabled five-in-a-row?
“The one thing I thought was brilliant when I was watching him was how he looked so strong, he was just smiling and laughing and looked like he had a really good relationship with his caddy, that kind of released the tension a bit,” said Kilkenny.
Asked who the best golfer on the Dublin team is, Kilkenny said it’s probably Con O’Callaghan.
“He hits a ball like Brooks Koepka, he has a good, powerful drive, he can hit the ball 300-plus,” said Kilkenny.
Back to football chat and the shutters come down again. We can’t blame him, in fairness, this is no ordinary summer as Dublin strive for an achievement of Lowryesque proportions.
Ciarán Kilkenny is a brand ambassador of Sure, the official statistics partner of the GAA.