Darndale back to do things right in the AUL

by Dave Donnelly
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Darndale FC will make their return to senior football next season following a two-year absence next season when they re-enter the AUL.

The northside club dropped out of senior football two years ago amid internal problems and most of the team splintered off to local sides like Kilmore Celtic.

It was a decision that surprised many, the club having won the double the previous year and falling just short of promotion to the top level in a league much more competitive than it is now.

Striker James English – a local boy who came through the ranks at the club – had just earned a move to League of Ireland Shelbourne on the back of his remarkable 45-goal season.

One of the club’s star players, former Sheriff YC player Shane Gillard, had spells with Rivervalley Rangers and then followed manager Stephen Doran to Tolka Rovers.

Now Gillard is back in Darndale and the driving force behind reforming the senior section, which will now operate completely separately from the growing schoolboy section.

At the time, the committee who were in place weren’t too keen on having a senior set-up. The committee at the time just wanted to focus on schoolboy.

“Now, I’ve come in and said we’ll go back to the club but we’ll have two separate committees. We can’t touch any of the funds from the schoolboys and they’re completely separate from us.

“It’s the one club, but there’s different committees for the seniors and the schoolboy level. We basically want to go back in and do it right this time.”

The senior side will be managed by Paul Byrne, who was part of the Darndale Rovers set-up before they folded in 2014 and merged with Darndale FC.

Several of that Rovers side, and some players who came through the underage ranks when Gillard was coaching, were among the 24 who turned out for pre-season training last week.

And Gillard – who will be on the playing panel this year – feels there is a real clamour in the area for senior football and they’ve set their sights on achievement at the top of the league.

They look likely to go to Premier C, where they’re happy to begin their journey.

“There’s a lot of eagerness there from people. I’m ambitious and I want to get it back going and do it my way, along with Paul Byrne, the manager, who’s also on the committee and Declan Andrews.

“We had success in the past. We were right there with Kilbarrack getting promoted at the same time, Sandyhill Shangan, Collinstown, and then it obviously faded away.

“We want to go back in and the same thing this year. The aim is to get to Premier A. It’s no messing around.”

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