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European hero Kilduff leaves Dundalk for new adventure in the United States

Kilduff scored two goals during Dundalk’s historic passage to the Europa League group stages.

Kilduff joined Dundalk in the summer of 2015.
Kilduff joined Dundalk in the summer of 2015.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

AFTER TWO YEARS at Oriel Park Ciaran Kilduff has departed champions Dundalk to join Flordia-based NASL side Jacksonville Armada.

Kilduff departs having joined Dundalk in July 2015, during which time he won back-to-back Premier Division titles, along with an FAI Cup.

However the striker’s legacy in the white shirt will be his exploits during the club’s journey to the group stages of last season’s Europa League.

Kilduff scored two goals during Dundalk’s historic run in the group stages, becoming just the second side in the history of domestic Irish football to qualify for the Europa League.

Kilduff made his own piece of history by scoring the winning goal against Maccabi Tel Aviv on his 28th birthday to earn the first ever win for an Irish club in modern European competition.

Reflecting on his depature, the forward noted that his time playing for the Louth club had been the greatest experience of his time in football.

“It has been the best two years of my football career”, he said speaking to the club’s website.

“There’s no other way to describe it. It has been the best dressing room, the best staff, best management team that I have been involved with.

Dundalk's Ciaran Kilduff is congratuulated after the game Kilduff is congratulated after Dundalk's victory against Maccabi Tel Aviv. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“I have had some really great moments personally, individually and collectively as a team with the club.I have had some bad moments as well with some injuries too. It was eventful along the way.

“I am just really happy to have been a part of something which has been so great. There was so many great nights and moments for us. To be part of it is something that I will always be proud of.”

Kilduff also scored the equalizer against AZ Alkmaar, meaning Dundalk became the first Irish club to earn a point in the Europa League.

He noted that the current era at Dundalk ranked as one of the greatest in the history of club football in Ireland, taking time to reflect on his own contribution to the club’s achievements.

“Dundalk has been an amazing story in Irish football in the last five-six years from where they came from to where they are now. I am just so happy and proud to have been part of it.

“There was a few firsts last year alrigh – I was probably the first person to break their back playing football for Dundalk! But there are a few reasons I’ll be remembered. I am so proud of those two Europa League goals and proud of some of the league goals that I have scored too.

Ciaran Kilduff celebrates scoring a goal with Robbie Benson "... and then the goal against Maccabi Tel-Aviv to get the first group stage win on my birthday. You couldn’t make it up." Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“David McMillan’s goals against BATE will be remembered as well so it’s a collective thing. The goal against AZ Alkmaar to equalise in the Europa League and then the goal against Maccabi Tel-Aviv to get the first group stage win on my birthday. You couldn’t make it up.”

“They are magnificent moments for me personally and it give great joy to many people.

“I am so grateful and thankful to the club for giving me those opportunities.”

In joining Jacksonville Armada in the North American Soccer League, he said playing and living in the US was an opportunity he could not turn down.

“This is something which is completely out of left field. It is something which has interested me in maybe the last year or so if the opportunity came. I have a young family so the timing seems right for me.

“When my daughter gets a little older and gets to school going age things will have to change so I felt that this was a ‘now or never’ situation for me. Football in America is taking off. I am going over there to grasp it and try to further myself.

Ciaran Kilduff celebrates scoring the equaliser with after the game with Stephen Kenny Kilduff celebrates with manager Stephen Kenny after Dundalk's draw with AZ Alkmaar. Source: Karel Delvoije/INPHO

“I see players like Richie Ryan and players like that who have bettered themselves and furthered their careers.

“There is so much over there, so much room for progression over there. It’s not something I have taken lightly at all.

“It’s a lifestyle change and it is something that I have been open to for a while. It has just fallen for me at this time. It ticks a lot of boxes for me and I am excited to get going.”

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Aaron Gallagher

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