castle' built to last

Ronan Mac Lochlainn

Castleknock's dreams of capturing the AIB All-Ireland Junior Football Championship were eventually dashed as Kenmare Shamrocks availed of the wide, open environs of Croke Park to prevail in their semi-final second replay last Saturday evening.

The Dublin 15 club put in another brave showing but their relative inexperience in contrast to their seasoned opponents was what ultimately cost them, according to team selector Ray Holland.

"Week in, week out, Kenmare are operating at a higher standard than ourselves and I think that showed at the weekend.


"They would have far greater experience than us and they had a greater number of quality footballers than us and that showed on the night," said Holland.

Kenmare's quality was personified by Paul O'Connor, with the talented full-forward hitting 1-8 in their 1-17 to 1-12 victory, maintaining his superb form from the two previous games.

His ability to plunder scores at crucial times mitigated against Castleknock's chances and it was the Dubliners' youthful defence that struggled at times in containing him, leaving Holland to rue his side's inexperience.

"I thought we were a tiny bit naïve in defence and that has been the worry all the way through," he said.

"Three of the defenders are under-21 and their inexperience told at times.

"They gave their all but it just wasn't to be for them. We can't have any complaints though as the better team won on the day," Holland added.

Despite the disappointment that attached itself to Saturday's defeat, Holland failed to reflect on that loss in isolation and rightly highlighted the strides the club has made over the past 12 months.

A first Dublin and provincial title at adult level is the reward for the players' efforts and the former Dublin player sees little reason why the progressive club should not maintain that momentum into the coming season.

"To get as far as we have this year is a great achievement and the lads have put a massive effort in getting that far," he said.

"We have a tough start to the league (AFL3) in a fortnight's time against Na Fianna but we would be hopeful that we hit the ground running.

"We should rightly give the Intermediate Football Championship a decent go and promotion should also be an objective and that is the plan that we have put in place.

"The players realise themselves the levels that they are capable of playing at and we would expect them to take many positives from the year," concluded Holland.