Kilkenny credits mentors for moulding golden generation
Ciaran Kilkenny believes the generation of former Dublin footballers who have given back to the game through coaching deserve a lot of the credit for the county’s current dominance of the sport.
Dublin manager Jim Gavin and his coaching team of Jason Sherlock, Paul Clarke, and Declan Darcy were all high-profile inter-county players in their day.
While Kilkenny and many of his current Dublin team-mates were also managed at both minor and U-21 level by another Dublin star of the 1990s, Dessie Farrell.
“We have a special group of players has come along at a special time together but we're very lucky that past players have put so much time into helping us along the way,” said Kilkenny.
“For example, The '93 group of guys who were on the team, there are four or five of us, Dessie Farrell would have been our manager at underage all the way up.
“To have him and Stephen O'Shaughnessy as role-models, they had a massive influence on us to get us to where we are.
“I put it down to the hard work and dedication that people have put in at grass-roots level that have enabled us to keep believing in our dream, keep going, and keep improving ourselves.
“Look, from 1983 to 1995 to 2011 there was only three won over nearly a 30 year span so you just have to recognise that we now have a special group at this moment in time.
“Sport is always evolving and a good few of us, myself included, are getting older, and you're not going to be playing forever so you just have to enjoy it and do the best you can in the moment that you have.”
Dublin have won six of the last eight All-Ireland titles, and Kilkenny is adamant that this group of players are just as determined to succeed together as ever despite all they’ve already achieved.
“We're so competitive and want to win so much that we will do anything and whatever it takes whether it's playing in any position or give the ball to the player in the best position," said Kilkenny. "That's just what we do, that's just our mindset.
“We have such a special bond with each other. That's one of the things you get most enjoyment out of too, the memories that you've created together.
“There's just a very special level of trust and honesty with each other.
“That's the most special thing about this group and I'm sure when we're all finished we'll still have that connection where when you look in their eyes you'll know what they're thinking.
“There's just an intuitive understanding we have with one another and it's just so special.”