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Carlow blow like quarters exit: Kilkenny


Dublin dual player Ciarán Kilkenny. Picture: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Dublin dual player Ciarán Kilkenny. Picture: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Dublin dual player Ciarán Kilkenny. Picture: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

IT hasn't been the greatest week in Ciarán Kilkenny's fledgling, but highly successful, GAA career to date.

As a follow-up act to the Dublin U21 footballers going down in flames in Parnell Park in their Leinster quarter-final back in March, Kilkenny suffered the ignominy of being part of the U21 hurlers and their Donnycarney ambushing by Carlow last Tuesday, neither Dublin team exactly living up to their expectations or doing justice to the depth of talent.

"I thought it was a very similar sort of game," reflected Kilkenny yesterday. "They were the same kind of conditions. It was raining. It wasn't the best for a game. We had our chances to win.

"But in fairness to Longford and Carlow, they were the better teams. Obviously disappointed about the result. But in fairness, Carlow are a traditional hurling county and they were the better team on the day. Just wish them the best of luck for the under-21 campaign.

"Under-21 is always a difficult grade with exams and stuff like that. No, we were fully prepared. I played a club game there at the weekend and we were released to play against Galway the week before.

"We had our training done. It's just Carlow were the better team on the day and they got the goal at the end."

Still, it hasn't perturbed him any about one day playing football and hurling for Dublin at senior level, a stated goal for the Castleknock man.

If anything, seeing Lee Chin do both within 24 hours last weekend has hardened his resolve to go dual.

"Please God, in the future, when I'm in college, some year I'd like to give it a go," he explained, adding that he intends to go to St Pat's teacher training college in Drumcondra from September.

"Because you would have flexible enough hours when you're in college. You see Lee Chin, he's doing fantastic stuff there at the moment."

For now then, hurling will have to wait. But importantly for Kilkenny, he started Dublin's Leinster opener against Westmeath, his first for Dublin since suffering a knee ligament injury against Tyrone in March.

In the meantime, he had to suffer some fairly sharp criticism from no less a man than Jack O'Shea, who, writing in his Sunday newspaper column, said of Kilkenny: "I saw every league match he played and can safely say he got blocked down about 20 times. He's a junior footballer."

Yet if Kilkenny bears a grudge, it doesn't show. "I suppose he hadn't seen me play much, really," he shrugged. "But he's a legend of the game and if he could come back and tell me... I'd like to listen to him, what he thinks I can improve on.

"You just take stuff like that in your stride all the time as an inter-county footballer. It could be from your dad. It could be from your manager.

"Listen to them, take it on board. See can you improve your game. I'm only 19 and please God, I'll have a long career in GAA. I have to build a thick enough neck."