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13 Years After Dublin Career Ended, Mark Vaughan Set For All-Ireland

13 Years After Dublin Career Ended, Mark Vaughan Set For All-Ireland
By PJ Browne

Dara Mullin recalls the last time Kilmacud Crokes were in an All-Ireland football final.

"I think I was 14 at the time, gearing up for Féile or something like that, so going into the game in my over-sized O’Neills gear," says Mullins.

"That was just a great game to be involved in Kilmacud Crokes. I would have been looking up to lads like Mark Vaughan, Pat Burke, these sort of guys and trying to be as good as them some day and fill their shoes."

13 years on from the day the Dublin side defeated Crossmaglen Rangers to win their second All-Ireland title and Mullin is now a teammate of Vaughan. The former Dublin forward - who scored four points in that win against Crossmaglen - has been among the subs on Kilmacud's run to this year's All-Ireland final against Down champions Kilcoo.

9 February 2022; Dara Mullin of Kilmacud Crokes, Dublin pictured ahead of one of #TheToughest showdowns of the year, as Kilmacud Crokes face Kilcoo, Down, in the AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Final this Saturday, February 12th at 5pm. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

"He hadn't actually been there for the last couple of years," explains Paul Mannion about Vaughan, "but I think from speaking to him and speaking to a couple of others, I think he felt that he had more to contribute and he wanted to help the younger players coming through.

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'Kilmacud Crokes were winning Dublin Championships'

"He's done a great job with that, in fairness to him. He's really, really vocal in the dressing room, and he has a lot of experience having been through a number of Leinster campaigns. He obviously won the All-Ireland in 2009. He's a great addition to have in the dressing room.

"Growing up watching the Crokes senior team, they were really my Gaelic football idols when I was a young player. Dublin were going through a bit of a barren spell in those years, and Crokes were winning a number of Dublin Championships, getting to Leinster finals, the All-Ireland finals.

"Almost before it became a thing, 'I'd love to play for Dublin', it was 'I'd love to play for Crokes and win Club Championships for Crokes' because those are the players you see winning. The nights when you're celebrating with friends were the Crokes nights. There wasn't very many Dublin nights around that time.

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"So the likes of Vaughanie, Ray Cosgrove, the Magee brothers and those kind of lads were my kind of heroes. It was 2012 when I got to play with Vaughanie first. We had a great few years playing together."

It's now 17 years since Vaughan, and his bleached blond hair, burst onto the inter-county scene. His Dublin career was over just four years later. His free spirit did not mesh with the new discipline of Pat Gilroy Dublin's panel.

"I’ve been playing with him now for a couple of years," says Mullin.

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"He's someone I looked up to as a youngster in terms of his skill-set, his confidence and that.

"It was just no matter what happens in a game, he was always willing to take on the next ball, the next shot.

"He’s probably one of the most enthusiastic players on the teams to be honest. He’s always out there kicking balls and taking penos and kicking scores off the outside of the left and things like this. He’s great for the young players, to see that enthusiasm he has for the game at his age."

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The Kilmacud Crokes and Kilcoo clash is part of a double header at Croke Park on Saturday, with the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championship final also taking place at the earlier time of 3pm and will see Ballygunner, Waterford, and Ballyhale Shamrocks, Kilkenny, do battle for the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championship crown. Both games will be broadcast live on TG4, while tickets are also available now on gaa.ie/tickets/.

Watch: Steelstown Captain Delivers One Of The Great Croke Park Speeches

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