Wednesday 21 August 2019

Kilcullen out to keep Simonstown on winning trail

James Kilcullen is lining out for Navan-based outfit Simonstown. Photo: Barry Cregg/Sportsfile
James Kilcullen is lining out for Navan-based outfit Simonstown. Photo: Barry Cregg/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

In football terms, James Kilcullen has been around the houses.

He's is a Ballaghaderreen man first and foremost. He played county football for Mayo too before switching allegiances to Sligo. And these days, he's lining out for Navan-based outfit Simonstown who, after collecting their second successive Meath SFC title, are busying themselves preparing for a Leinster campaign and a trip to Wexford Park to face Starlights on Sunday.

So just how did he happen to pitch up in the Royal County?

"I was in Dublin and relocated because we needed a bigger house so we moved out the country a bit," he explained. "So Colm (O'Rourke) gave me a ring and I went to Simonstown and never looked back since."

Injury has hampered his involvement since he landed to his new club but his experience has been vital as the club secured their first senior crown in 2016 before repeating the trick this year.

Kilcullen featured off the bench in the Meath final win over Summerhill to add a Meath medal to the two he won in Mayo.

"We won two counties in Mayo with Ballaghaderreen, that's my club. We had great teams down through the years and probably didn't win enough. We won in '08 and '12, we have a few players in Australia at the moment in the Hanley brothers. My brother played with Mayo, a lot of fellas played with Mayo.

"Winning is winning," he replied, when asked how the successes compared. "They're a great bunch of lads, from day one they were very welcoming when I came into the club. I must say it's a great feeling to win anything. You have to work hard and work hard together and that's what we did." 

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Kilcullen was most recently with Mayo in 2011 and played in that infamous near miss in London that year before joining neighbours Sligo for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. And he insists his former Mayo team-mates can still get over the line despite the myriad of setbacks they have experienced over the years.

"I'm still very good mates with all the boys. I'd know them all very well from training with them. There was heartbreak for them this year but no better lads, they'll come back again next year and they will get over the line, I have no doubt about that, if they stick together."

All of Kilcullen's efforts will be fixed on helping Simonstown, however. They fell at the first hurdle last year when going down to Offaly kingpins Rhode.

And even though they will be without AFL starlet Conor Nash, Kilcullen reckons they will be in a better place to challenge in the province this time around.

"It was our first one last year and it was hard to get the boys refocused again. So I'd say it'll be in their mind more this year."

• Kevin Martin has been confirmed as Offaly hurling manager for 2018 with Damien Fox in as coach and Aidan Hanrahan as selector.

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