Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
# heavyweight clash
'Alan Brogan came into the dressing room and said it was one of the best club games he's ever played in'
Ciaran Kilkenny was speaking after Castleknock’s stunning extra-time win over Plunkett’s.

ON SUNDAY 29 AUGUST 1999, wing-back Alan Brogan scored a goal for the Dublin minors in the All-Ireland semi-final against Down.

Alan Brogan  29/8/1999 Tom Honan / INPHO Alan Brogan celebrates his goal against Down in 1999 Tom Honan / INPHO / INPHO

The Dubs could only manage a draw, and they went down to a Benny Coulter-inspired Down in the replay in Navan. The Ulster men progressed to the All-Ireland final where they would beat Mayo and lift the title.

The same weekend as Brogan’s goal, Ciaran Kilkenny, Shane Boland and Graham Hannigan were six-years-old and in the company of about 130 other youngsters at the Castleknock nursery.

The club was founded just a year previous. Three local men - Johnny Corcoran, Fergus Hamill, and John Conway – met at Myos Bar and agreed that the influx of young families to the area required a GAA club.

While Brogan’s inter-county career was beginning to take flight, Kilkenny, Boland and Hannigan were falling in love with the game on green in the middle of a Castleknock housing estate dubbed Tír Na nÓg.

Ross McConnell and Ciaran Kilkenny Bryan Keane / INPHO Kilkenny in action against Plunkett's yesterday Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

In 1999, the Castleknock seniors were plying their trade in Division 10 of the Dublin league.

Last night, Kilkenny, Boland and Hannigan were three key men as Castleknock sent Brogan’s St Oliver Plunkett’s Eoghan Ruadh packing from the Dublin SFC.

Castleknock’s rise to relevance has been remarkable. In 2011 when Plunkett’s played in their second ever senior county final, Castleknock were still a junior side.

After defeating 2016 All-Ireland champions Ballyboden St Enda’s in the first round, many felt this would be the year Plunkett’s finally ended their hoodoo in the county and lift the ultimate prize in Dublin club football.

At 35-years-old, Brogan may not get many more chances to lift a senior title with his club, but that didn’t stop him from entering the Castleknock dressing room afterwards to congratulate them.

“Alan (Brogan) came into the dressing room afterwards and he said it himself that it was one of the best club games he’s ever played in,” Kilkenny told The42 after the game.

Alan Brogan and Tom Quinn Bryan Keane / INPHO Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

“Both teams really went at it, end to end. It was at boiling point every single minute of the game. They went ahead, we fought back. We went ahead, they fought back. It was a very close game and it showed by the result in a draw at the end of normal time.

“We just kept plugging away and were lucky we got a few scores towards the end of the game but it was such a close game. We’re really, really delighted to get over the line. It was one of the best club games I’ve ever played in.”

Kilkenny, a two-time All-Star who was nominated for Footballer of the Year last year, gave a massive display for the 2016 county finalists. He scored 1-2 and caused constant problems for Plunkett’s with his driving runs, physicality and intelligence.

In 2012, the Dublin star signed a contract with AFL club Hawthorn, but returned home after just six weeks in Australia. Had he stayed Down Under, the people of Castleknock might never have experienced a day out like they did yesterday.

Bernard Brogan and Shane Boland Bryan Keane / INPHO Shane Boland hunts down Bernar Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

Defeating a power-packed Plunkett’s side that boasted three former Footballers of the Year in their attack would not have been possible without Kilkenny’s dazzling brilliance.

“Last year was our second year in the Dublin senior championship when we got to the final,” he added.

“To win the first game this year was a big relief and to win this game is just amazing. To be in the quarter-final now and now we’re sustaining that consistency and sustaining the performances and putting good performances. As long as we can keep putting in good performances we’ll be happy.

“We’re a very fit team and a very young team. I think our average age is 23 or 24 so we’ve loads of legs. Hopefully we can keep healthy now and keep playing well.”

Castleknock’s is the type of story the GAA is built on.

Long may their success continue.

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