Shane Cunningham of Kilmacud Crokes ahead of the Go-Ahead Dublin Senior Football Club Championship final which takes place in Parnell Park in Dublin on Sunday. Leading public transport provider, Go-Ahead Ireland are the titles sponsors of all adult Dublin club leagues and championships.
Shane Cunningham of Kilmacud Crokes ahead of the Go-Ahead Dublin Senior Football Club Championship final which takes place in Parnell Park in Dublin on Sunday. Leading public transport provider, Go-Ahead Ireland are the titles sponsors of all adult Dublin club leagues and championships. 

Cunningham hopes Kilmacud continue down road to redemption


By John Harrington

For Kilmacud Crokes captain, Shane Cunningham, Sunday’s Dublin SFC Final against St. Judes is another step on the road to redemption.

He’s still haunted by his team’s shock defeat to Longford’s Mullinlaghta in the 2018 Leinster SFC Final, a result regarded as arguably the greatest David v Goliath victories in the history of the competition.

Perhaps it’s taken three years for this Kilmacud team to mentally absorb that loss, because this is their first time to come within one match of lifting championship silverware since.

“Yeah, genuinely, I can’t speak for all the players but for me I definitely took that loss to heart,” says Cunningham.

“It is something that I regularly do think about, I am not getting upset or crying about it but it is something that I want to try and go on and rectify.

“Afterwards, like any game you lose, especially a Leinster final, you are heart-broken at the time. I probably think about it once a week. Every couple of days that go by it would probably enter your head.

“For us, it is trying to get back in a position where we can compete in a Leinster final and it is all geared towards Sunday to try and do it.”

Dónal McElligott of Mullinalaghta St Columba's celebrates after his side were awarded a decisive penalty during the 2018 AIB Leinster GAA Football Senior Club Championship Final match between Kilmacud Crokes and Mullinalaghta St Columba's at Bord na Móna O'Connor Park in Offaly.
Dónal McElligott of Mullinalaghta St Columba's celebrates after his side were awarded a decisive penalty during the 2018 AIB Leinster GAA Football Senior Club Championship Final match between Kilmacud Crokes and Mullinalaghta St Columba's at Bord na Móna O'Connor Park in Offaly.

Kilmacud Crokes are one of the most successful clubs in Gaelic Football, having won two All-Irelands, four Leinster Championships, and eight Dublin Championships.

Cunningham believes the current generation of footballers should be held up to those exacting standards.

“When you are playing for Kilmacud Crokes, and when I was growing up as a teenager that is what I was used to,” he says.

“It was competing for Leinster’s, competing for All-Ireland’s and since I got onto the senior team in 2013 we have not been in that position at all.

“We have probably left the club down in that respect, we have not put ourselves in that position enough so when we did get there we were not looking at an All-Ireland because it was such a new experience for us we were taking it game by game but there is obviously an ambition there to win an All-Ireland club.

“I am sure for any player playing club that is the dream. You don’t often think about it, especially in the Dublin championship where you can’t look beyond the next game because everyone knows the Dublin championship is an absolute minefield and if you take your eye off the ball at all, you could be out of the championship.

“It is something that is maybe there as a dream as a kid and as an ambition but in terms of thinking about it going into a game it is not something I would think about.”

Shane Cunningham of Kilmacud Crokes celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Go Ahead Dublin County Senior Club Football Championship Semi-Final match between Kilmacud Crokes and Ballyboden St Enda's at Parnell Park in Dublin.
Shane Cunningham of Kilmacud Crokes celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Go Ahead Dublin County Senior Club Football Championship Semi-Final match between Kilmacud Crokes and Ballyboden St Enda's at Parnell Park in Dublin.

Speaking of dreams, the chance to captain his team in a county final is another that Cunnigham is excited to have the opportunity to experience in real life.

“It's a massive honour. For me, growing up, I would have come over to Parnell Park, I'd be travelling down to Leinster (club) games watching the likes of Johnny Magee and Paul Griffin and David Nestor, Ross O'Carroll, it was a massive part of my childhood to be honest.

“So yeah, to captain the club this year is a massive, massive honour.”