Kilkenny. INPHO/Donall Farmer
Topical Talk

Chatting with Kilkenny: Dubs star on the AFL, hurling and his love of GAA

The Castleknock player had plenty to say about his decision to return to Ireland.

CIARAN KILKENNY ANNOUNCED his return to the Dublin football ranks in style last week.

The young attacker fired 2-10 for the county in their Leinster U21 championship opener against Carlow.

Now he is in the frame to return to the county’s senior setup for this weekend’s Division 1 clash with Mayo.

Kilkenny has been in the spotlight since cutting short in January his stint with the Melbourne-based AFL side Hawthorn and opting to stay in Ireland to pursue his GAA career.

Yesterday at the launch of in Croke Park, he had plenty to say about that and other issues.

Returning to Ireland

“I’m pretty clear in my decision. It actually wasn’t homesickness. I didn’t really miss my parents at all when I was out there? I was always thinking the lads (Castleknock) are in an All-Ireland semi-final, we’ve a great U21 team in football and hurling and there’s so many titles there to be won.

“In Australia I was designated with one team. I’d rather be with these different teams and connections. As soon as I came back I had a great saga there with Castleknock against Kenmare. It was great to play in Croke Park with the lads I grew up with.”

His love of the GAA

“The GAA is what makes me happiest. Just the free flowing flair that’s in the GAA, the passion in the game and that everyone out there is playing out of love of the game and their county. I think if I played any other game, I’d always want to just come back to the GAA.

“Even when I was going, a week before I was about to go, I said to my parents ‘Look, I think I’m going to stay’, but they said you might as well give it a go and have no regrets.”

Reaction from Hawthorn

“They were disappointed. I thought I was doing fairly well over there, but they understood that I was far more passionate about the GAA. The training and everything was brilliant. But the whole professional lifestyle probably wasn’t for me.

“When I was out in Australia, I wanted to do extra kicking (practice) and they said don’t go out. The only way I feel I can get better is go out and kick a thousand balls and perfect my game. So I’d rather play the game I love out of pure enjoyment rather than it being my job.”

Pic: Inpho/Morgan Treacy

Third-level education

“One thing that I’d like to do is get an arts degree in Irish and history because I’m passionate about that and hopefully be a Gaelscoil teacher in a primary school.I’d like to embed the passions that I had to other people.

“This year is a year of reflection now! After that I’ll be going back to college in September/October. The three colleges I’m looking at are UCD, Maynooth and St Pat’s at the moment because they’d have the arts degree courses.”

Playing hurling for Dublin

“At the time when I came back it was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I said I was going to prioritise with my club as soon as I came back and then the U21 (football) championship.

“I’ve never hidden my love for the hurling and I’m not ruling that (senior) out. Another seanfhocail would say, ‘Is maith an sceal an aimsir’, I don’t know what’s around the corner. I’m playing U21 at the moment.”

Back playing with the Dublin U21 footballers last week

“Yeah, it was a great privilege and honour to line out with the lads again and put the Dublin jersey back on. We have a tough test now against Longford next week, because they’re after winning the Hastings Cup and they won the 2010 minor championship. They’re going to be a very strong team. It’s going to be a very interesting encounter.”

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