For a club only founded in 1998, you’d have to wonder what is going through the minds of the Castleknock Football panel right now.
Last week, against the odds, the underdogs reached their first ever Senior County Football Final after standing firm against St. Judes. They will face the old guard of Dublin football, St. Vincents. And there are definitely two sides to this coin.
Vincents, since 1949, have won the Senior County Championship a whopping 27 times. This will be the Marino men’s fourth Final since 2013, and they’ll be looking to bring the Silverware back to the club for the third time in this four year span.
But the men from “the parish” might have other plans.
Castleknock’s rise to this weekend’s summit has been phenomenal.
2012 saw the start of this short journey as the team won both the Dublin and Leinster Junior Football Championship titles, earning them high praise from their opponents and peers.
In 2014 they continued their march and were crowned Intermediate County Champions. And by 2015, they had been promoted to Division 1 Football in the County.
In April, The blue and yellow of Somerton Park started their Championship campaign against 2014 finalists St. Oliver Plunkett Eoghan Ruadh, and won 2-12 to 1-12.
Following the break for inter county competitions, Castleknock were again successful in Drumnigh at the beginning of October beating St. Sylvesters 1-13 to 0-12.
Their pairing against Skerries Harps in the Quarter Finals was one that most predicted would be evenly matched, but again Castleknock were worthy winners on the night by a 10 point margin.
And last Thursday?
The Parnell Park crowd witnessed what has become the story in this year’s Championship. Call them minnows, underdogs, new boys, it no longer matters. Every football fan in the county, and no doubt further afield, are following the journey this team are taking. There’s a growing respect for the maturity and adaptability Castleknock are displaying. They faced their Semi Final opponents St. Judes head on, at their own game, and won.
At this level, these lads would be deemed inexperienced, but by the final whistle it was more than apparent that the Castleknock boys were far from finished. Despite a groggy and defensive first half that finished 0-03 a piece, Ciaran Kilkenny and the rest of the team sprang from the dressing rooms, to go full pelt. Even a piece of Kevin McManamon magic toward the end of the third quarter couldn’t shake the spirit of this sixteen year old club. The teenagers of Senior Football.
The defensive play from both sides on the night was immense but the swing was in Castleknock’s favour as they continuously punished Judes for every minor blip, turning the ball over time and time again. And when you’ve a player like Des Carlos who can finish both from frees and from play, this game was only ever going to end one way. There wasn’t a plethora of names on the score sheet, with Ben and Mikey Galvin joining Carlos on the list. But it didn’t matter.
This was a game won by every member of the panel. A win they’ve been working towards since 2012.
And while a lot may already be expecting to see St. Vincents crowned Champions yet again this weekend, let’s not forget that they have an opponent worthy of a final berth, and have proved to every member of the Dublin Football community that they are deserving of this spotlight, and are planning to remain in the County’s top flight as permanent fixtures.
Castleknock face St. Vincents this Saturday, November 5th at 3:00pm in Parnell Park for the Dublin Senior Football Championship title.