Ciaran Kilkenny gearing up for a big Royal rumble this Sunday

by Cóilín Duffy

Dublin’s Ciaran Kilkenny says there’s a strong familiarity between Dublin and Meath, as they face off in Croke Park this Sunday, with Dublin seeking their ninth provincial title in a row.

The counties last met in a Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup semi-final in January with Dublin prevailing 3-1 on penalties, after the teams couldn’t be separated in normal time.

Just a month previously, the counties squared off also in the fundraiser for Sean Cox at Páirc Tailteann in Navan – a game the Royals won by 0-16 to 1-11.

“That was a fantastic cause and Meath pipped us that day and they have been performing well and they are a Division 1 team now,” the Sure GAA Ambassador said.

“They have been putting up serious performances in the last couple of games – putting up big scores so we are going to have to prepare really well for that game, and do the best we can in our preparation and hopefully we can put in a good performance against them in the final.”

While county matters are centre stage at the moment, club concerns are always close to the star forward’s mind.

Castleknock Under-14 hurlers were among the Dublin sides involved in the John West All-Ireland Féile na nGael recently – coming away with Division 3 Cup title, following a comfortable 1-12 to 0-3 win over Glen Rovers in the decider.

Kilkenny, who has come through the youth system himself with the club, and has won the All-Ireland Feile says it was a special win.

“They are a special group,” he said. “I was doing some coaching with some of the lads over the Easter break. We had a camp taking place. They are great lads and it’s great that they done well at that competition.

“Hopefully they will look to improve all the time, and that I will be playing with some of them in the future.

“It was a great weekend overall for the club, with the Callum Farrell Memorial Cup taking place.

“It was brilliant to see that also and they were very happy with it.”

It’s not long before youth comes through to deliver in the spotlight, and when Dublin annexed their first title on the road to a potential nine in-a-row of Leinster Senior titles back in 2011, Ciarán was playing in the curtain-raiser.

“It’s definitely been a surreal experience from being a small boy playing football and hurling – going to all of these games with Dublin and Meath in the past and now I’m getting to participate in those games.

“The whole preparation before it and the atmosphere in the build-up to the game is really exciting and to be a part of it is really special.

“In 2011 I was playing in the Minor final that day. We played Meath in that Minor final and it was a good game. A lot of those Meath players are in the senior panel at this stage.

“We’ve great respect for those guys and I would have played with a lot of them at college level as well since.”

This resulted in the first silverware of the day for Dublin, as they claimed a 2-18 to 1-11 win over the Royals.

“To have two Dublin teams playing, that day was really special.

“As Minor footballers you are going out and you playing, and knowing that your idols and your heroes are going to be playing in the game after that – that’s really cool.”

Sunday again will bring some underage-rivalries again to the fore on the senior stage.

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