Castleknock’s John Kindlon in action against Skerries Harps last season in AFL Division 1. Picture: Niall O’Connell

CASTLEKNOCK’S footballers have had a meteoric rise in recent years, following their long-running charge from Division 9 to the top tier of Dublin football.

That peaked two years ago with a Dublin senior football final run, but change is afoot in 2018, as they go into next year under the guardianship of a new manager.

New boss Colm Nally – formerly a coach at Dublin, Louth and Meath, as well as a Dublin Senior player – was attracted to Castleknock as a progressive club that presents a challenge to manage, and hopes to present a team that matches that forward-thinking philosophy.

“We’d love to have a solid league,” he told the Dublin Gazette ahead of the AFL1’s first matches this weekend.

“Having said that, the championship is always the priority. There are too many variables to really define a proper league target but we will use it a little to find new players, and to find a style that suits us.

“The Dublin leagues are very competitive. You definitely know where you stand. I don’t really think there’s a pressure, apart from the pressure to perform.”

Nally singled out the game against 2016 senior final opponents St Vincent’s, as well as contests against local opposition St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadg and St Brigid’s as the big games in the Castleknock season.

He admits, however, that there are no easy games in the top tier, with strength in depth perhaps Castleknock’s biggest weakness. The team can expect to lose the likes of Ciaran Kilkenny and Graham Hannigan to the Dublin county side for large chunks of the league season.

“We accept that Dublin comes first,” Nally says. “But we probably only have about 18 or 19 senior players so injuries are potentially quite a big problem for us.

“We’re training with our first and second teams together at the moment and I expect the players involved in the two will fluctuate depending on who’s available.

“They tend to play at the same time, but in the league you’re always going to have to move things around.

“There’s lots of learning to do. We need to be well coached, well organised. That’s where it’s at and the time to do it is in the league,” Nally concludes.

“We need that understanding that we can carry forward into the championship which can all be over very quickly in Dublin. But the quality of the league is really good.”

Meanwhile, Castleknock’s new Somerton clubhouse is currently in progress, and whatever happens in the league this season, a new home to go alongside their pitches will also be a key progression this season.

Castleknock open at home to newly promoted Naomh Olaf at Somerton, at 10.15am on Sunday morning.