Great for Ciaran but big loss for Dublin -- Farrell

Conor McKeon and Catherine Murphy

DESSIE Farrell has described Ciarán Kilkenny's decision to sign professional terms with AFL club Hawthorns as "a sad day for Dublin GAA."

The victorious Dublin minor boss managed Kilkenny last season and the Castleknock man served as a water-carrier on All-Ireland final day last Sunday.

"From his own point of view and that of his family, I'd be delighted for him," Farrell told the Herald. "Sport is his life and he has devoted himself to it and he's just one of these young lads with enormous talent and a huge depth of knowledge across a range of sports and he has the talent and the tools to back it up."

"To be identified and hand picked by a team in another code is a huge honour for him and he deserves great credit for that.

"It's testament to how he carries himself and how he conducts himself and I can only wish him the very best."

Carlton were the first club to show an interest in Kilkenny after he excelled in a trial set up by former Kerry and Sydney Swans player Tadhg Kennelly back in February and subsequently, the first to offer a contract, but the player recently returned home from a trial with the Hawks, who play in tomorrow's Grand final against the Swans, before starting his studies in UCD.

"We're disappointed but that's how it goes. You win some, you lose some," Carlton's national recruiting manager Shane Rogers told the Herald.

"I don't think it was the offer that was made or the treatment he got from either club (that was the deciding factor). He just decided to go with Hawthorn."

Kilkenny's rise as a footballer, in particular, was nothing short of meteroic over the past couple of seasons.

Drafted into the Dublin minor setup in 2010 by Val Andrews, he starred both that year and last, when he lined out for Farrell's outfit who were beaten in the All-Ireland decider by Tipperary.

Immediately, he made the step up to Under 21 level where he was one of the star performers in Jim Gavin's team which waltzed through their Leinster campaign and eventually beat Roscommon in the All-Ireland decider back in May.

Kilkenny kicked 2-30 (0-8f) over the course of that victory, Dublin's top scorer, and went on to win the Cadbury's Hero of the Future award, the Footballer of the Year equivalent of the Under 21 Championship.

From there - and after completing his Leaving Cert - Kilkenny, along with Jack McCaffrey, Emmet ó Chonghaile, Jack McCaffrey and Kevin O'Brien, was promoted by Pat Gilroy into his senior squad.

He then made his senior debut as a substitute in the Leinster semi-final win over Wexford before, most impressively of all, filling the void left by the injured Alan Brogan in the Dublin starting line-up for their All-Ireland semi-final exit to Mayo and kicking three points from play in the process.

"The talent and the ability he has is enormous and he has the mental strength and demeanour too," added Farrell.

"I honestly think that all he sees is a challenge and that there is no obstacle he can't overcome. Once he got a feel for it, you saw how comfortable he was with senior level so I wasn't surprised how good he was.

"You can only anticipate how great he would have gone on to be for Dublin."

He added: "Knowing him over the last couple of years. I would say the one thing that might stick in his craw was not having won an All-Ireland medal with Dublin.

"Maybe that's something he might return to do at some point in the future."