Ciarán Kilkenny feeling refreshed after break from football
Ciarán Kilkenny is looking forward to Castleknock’s Dublin Senior Football Club Championship opener against neighbours St. Oliver Plunketts Eoghan Ruadh with the giddy excitement of a kid on Christmas week.
The prospect of a knock-out All-Ireland inter-county championship to follow hot on the scenes of the club campaign has also got his competitive juices flowing.
Such is his enthusiasm for action, he believes the enforced break from Gaelic Football has ultimately done him a lot of good.
Winning five All-Ireland titles in a row must surely have taken a mental as well as physical toll on the longer-serving players like Kilkenny so perhaps the enforced break will ultimately make the challenge to make it six-in-a-row that bit easier.
Kilkenny, at least, feels like a rejuvenated man right now.
“Yeah,” he says. “At the start, you were training a lot, you're doing the gym because you're preparing yourself for what's around the corner. But at one stage, with the uncertainty of at all, I just took the mindset that I won't get this opportunity to rest and recover and rejuvenate.
“So I took the mindset that I was just going to relax, I was going to do nice things, I was going to rest my bones. I mightn’t get this opportunity again, games are gonna come thick and fast.
“So I took a three or four-week break where I just did nothing. I did a bit of cycling, I played a bit of golf, I did things that I didn’t necessarily have the opportunity to do in the summer previous to that.
“I feel refreshed now and I'm looking forward to all the games that are to come. Mentally and physically, I feel in a great place. It's a great opportunity for a lot of us guys who've been fortunate to play the business end of the season, that we have the time now to rest and recover.
“It instills that grá and it just gives you time to reset yourself and go at things again.”
The break might have done Dublin good, but the news that Jack McCaffrey has decided not to commit to their bid for a sixth All-Ireland title in a row is definitely a blow.
He was Man of the Match in last year’s drawn All-Ireland Final and will be a very difficult man to replace.
Kilkenny has played alongside McCaffrey since his underage days and admits the Clontarf man will be missed.
“Yeah, very sad,” he says. “But you have to respect Jack’s decision.
“You’ll miss his personality, his energy, his charisma, his leadership around the group, but it’s his decision and you have to respect his decision.
“And it is just another opportunity for someone else to put their hand up for a position within the team.
“I wish him the best of luck, and as I said, Dessie has an open-door policy, so if he was to change his mind, he is always welcomed back.”
The fact that this year’s Dublin club championship takes place before the inter-county championship means its very much a shop-window for those players hoping to catch Dessie Farrell’s eye.
That should add an extra little edge to a competition that is always ferociously contested anyway.
“Everyone is buzzing,” says Kilkenny. “There are so many different games going on, that it is a great opportunity for anyone with aspirations of playing for Dublin to showcase their skills and be recognised and have the opportunity to come in, put their hand up and create that competitive environment that you want to be involved in.”