Blow-ins bulk up Ballymun’s tilt on Leinster title

They talk of super-clubs in Dublin, outfits which attract the best from the rest, but Ballymun Kickhams wouldn’t be classified as one.

After all, wasn’t October’s win just their third senior title, the last coming 27 years ago?

A closer look at their set-up, though, and strains of different breeds are evident. Manager Paul Curran is a Thomas Davis man.

Derek Byrne also hails from the southside, a product of Jim Gavin’s Round Towers in Clondalkin. He moved his allegiances across the Liffey five years ago. His family is still entrenched in the club but as he admits: “I felt Towers had gone stale... I was looking for the best for myself”.

Having been part of the U21 management team in Kickhams that produced 13 of the team that beat Kilmacud Crokes in the county final, Byrne, who won a Leinster medal with Dublin in 2005, isn’t regarded as much of a blow-in anymore.

While the 34-year-old may play second fiddle to them on the bench in Mullingar this Sunday, he was heavily involved in recruiting Curran.

“I think anyone who has played Gaelic football would know what Paul Curran has brought to the GAA table.

“In fairness, lads knew when they were coming across how good Paul was, not only as a player, but as a manager, and what he was going to bring to the table. He has been absolutely immense for us.”

Byrne, 34, sees Curran perhaps following in the footsteps of his former clubmate Gavin and becoming Dublin senior manager one day.

“He definitely has the potential to do it but I think it’s stepping stones. You look at Jim who looked after the U21 job and then he got the senior job. Dessie the same, he would have looked after minors, now with the 21s and I’m sure the next time the senior job comes around Paul’s name will be top of the agenda.”

Byrne praises Curran for his success in ensuring Ballymun didn’t rest on their laurels after winning their historic county title.

Convincing wins over Mullingar Shamrocks and Sarsfields have them nicely placed coming into Sunday’s final against Portlaoise.

“The management have a lot to do with that, and obviously the players as well. We sat down on Thursday after the county final and spoke about where we were going for the next couple of weeks.

“It would have been easy to stay on the beer for another week but we all got down to it and every squad member was at training again on the Thursday and we were raring to go.

“You don’t know when this is going to come around again. It’s been 30 years since we were in a Leinster final so, for us, we might not see it again. It’s important to grasp it with both hands.”

Aside from the likes of Dean Rock and Ted Furman impressing up front, the most impressive characteristic of Ballymun’s run has been their defence.

“We have a game-plan and it’s all about executing that game-plan day in, day out and we’ve been doing it all season and that’s what we are aiming to do on Sunday. There’s no rocket science to the way defensively we are playing. It’s hard work just.”


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