GAA London Danny Sullivan & Sons Ltd Senior Football Championship Final, Sunday 21st October 2012, Ruislip 3:30pm
Dillane forecasts beautiful day for Kingdom
By Damian Dolan
Kingdom Kerry Gaels veteran forward Aidan Dillane will be hoping for a change of luck when it comes to the county final, after 16 years of heartache.
Three times a loser in the final at the hands of Tir Chonaill Gaels in 1996, 2000 and 2007 Dillane also sat out the Kingdom’s 2004 defeat to Tara through injury, but most importantly of all was in Chicago the following year when the club won its first and only senior title since the club’s amalgamation.
It was a bitter-sweet pill for Dillane to swallow. The sense of missing out was tempered by him winning a North American title with St Brendans of Chicago, and being back in London in time to take his place in the All Ireland Club Championship against Crossmaglen Rangers, only to lose by three points, but Dillane remains without a London Senior Championship winner’s medal.
“It was some consolation, but I’ve been trying here for many years to win a county title and I’ve missed out,” said the 37-year-old from Elennerville, Co Kerry. “My Achilles Heel is Tir Chonaill Gaels, but I’m hoping we can turn it around this time.
“If we’d had a little bit more luck on the day we should have won that game [v Crossmaglen]. Colm Foody had an absolute blinder that day against the McEntee’s and they were both moved off him. Kevin Waldron was another that played fantastic that day. Jim Landy came on and scored a goal and we nearly won it, but it just wasn’t to be our day.”
Dillane had come to London in 1996 for the summer – just for the experience and to play some football. Under the wing of Tom Roche and Christy Kissane, however, his affinity for the club grew. Two years later, after completing his studies at Tralee IT, he moved back to London permanently, and has been here ever since.
That first summer, however, would see him begin his personal duel with Tir Chonaill Gaels, and nothing has changed in the intervening years.
“They had a guy at full forward called Tommy Maguire in 1996, he was one of the legends around here, and that man just sowed the game up for them,” said Dillane, who was again left to rue his luck against Tir Chonaill in the 2000 final, despite contributing 0-3 for the Kingdom’s cause.
The 2007 final with the Greenford club is one that few at Kingdom Kerry Gaels will want to remember in a hurry. “They destroyed us, they annihilated us off the pitch” is how Killane recalls it.
This time, however, Killane is hoping for a different outcome, and he has every reason to be quietly optimistic given the Kingdom’s battling performances against Fulham Irish in their play-off and their thrilling late semi-final comeback against Parnells, in which their bench shone.
“You need hard games; you only improve by the better teams you play. Tir Chonaill Gaels are the ultimate team at the moment – they’re putting up some big scores – but we’re hoping the hard games will stand to us,” said Dillane.
The sudden departure of manager Noel Dunning seemed like it would destined the club to another year on the championship fringes, but judging by their recent displays it instead seems to have had a galvanising effect on the team. Dillane credits Roche, PJ Burke and Martin McGrath with turning the club’s season around.
“We’re a fit team, we’re a strong team and we’re a united team. We’re a bunch of players who don’t just pull on a jersey – we’re friends outside of it. We put in the effort and it shows coming to the end of games that we’re still there plugging away and we get the just rewards,” explained Dillane.
“We looked like we were beaten against Parnells but we held on and we pulled it out of the bag. It’s a fairly good team that can keep going and just sneak ahead when it’s nearly over.
“I’m really hoping this time that we can get a championship win for Kingdom Kerry Gaels. Leagues, Tipperary Cups and Conway Cups are all nice to win, but everyone knows that the Championship is the Real McCoy.
“I’d love to lift that cup above my head and be part of a winning Kingdom Kerry Gaels team. They’re a great bunch of lads, they put in some commitment and I really hope we get the outcome that we’re looking for and to then go on and represent London against the Munster champions in the Club Championship would be beautiful.”