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How Castleknock Became One Of Dublin's Best Footballing Teams In Just Twenty Years

How Castleknock Became One Of Dublin's Best Footballing Teams In Just Twenty Years
By Balls Team Updated

Last autumn, one of the most incredible match-ups in GAA history and indeed all of of Irish sport, took place in Parnell Park in Dublin 5. Castleknock, a side that was founded in 1998, went head-to-head with Dublin giants St Vincent's for the Dublin senior football final. In the most competitive football county in the land, the rise of Castleknock is an example for all underdogs out there.

What is the secret of Castleknock? How did they rise so quickly to the top of the heap in Dublin?

For all of the impressive honours that Castleknock have managed to accrue in their brief 19-year history, the people at the core of the club have never regarded results as how they judge the success or failure.

Speaking on this week's 'Cult Of' podcasts with Bulmers, chairman Charlie Spillane, former chairman Fergus Hammill, former vice-chairman Johnny Corcoran and former secretary John Conway were all in agreement that the ethos of the club has always been based around inclusivity. Trophies are nice but playing the game is the important thing.

 

That clearly isn't just lip service either as some of the stories that emerge from their chat with Damien Donohoe demonstrate.

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The Castleknock team has benefitted greatly from the rapid growth of area's population going from 60,000 around the time of the club's formation to about 120,000 right now.

They have also benefitted from having some exciting young talent in their side, namely Ciaran Kilkenny.

So perhaps fate was kind to Castleknock. But the club has also benefitted from its positive values, and you can be sure those values seep into how their senior team play football.

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At some of the initial meetings when the idea of forming a club was being mulled over, participation was the sole non-negotiable element which they all agreed had to be an intrinsic aspect of the club.

Participation was the key thing.

You could argue that the rise of Castleknock GAA was secured at any number of points over the last few years. But their advancement all the way to the Dublin final last year seems like the most obvious point of this club having 'made' it.

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Castleknock lost that match in a cagey affair, but their success has proven to be no fluke, as they defeated a highly-fancied Plunketts side featuring the Brogan brothers and Paul Galvin earlier this year.

Castleknock find themselves in a county quarterfinal this month and will take on south Dublin aristocrats Kilmacud Crokes. The impossible dream lives on: this small club could prove themselves as Dublin - and inded Ireland's best - by the end of the season.

This podcast features the men who had the audacity to start a team amid the crowded confines of west Dublin, and say 'our best players are as good as any in Ireland'. Castleknock's success speaks to the great tradition of the underdog in Irish sport, and the belief that on his day, David can always beat Goliath.

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But silverware aside, the club has stuck to its team principles and those principles have helped to mould one of the most formidable teams in club football. Something that was just a dream 20 years ago in the minds of the three men has turned into one of the great Cinderella stories in Irish sport.

You can listen to the full episode of The Cult Of... podcast series with Balls and Bulmers above, as we delve into some of the most fascinating cult sporting moments. Whether it's Maurice Fitzgerald's majestic sideline point or the Clare team that came from nowhere in 1995, it's always 100% Irish.

Please drink Bulmers responsibly.

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