Crokes’ flying start under Bannigan

by Gazette Reporter

A 16-POINT win in AFL1 is never a bad way to mark your first game in charge of a new side with new Kilmacud Crokes boss Gabriel Bannigan enjoying that luxury in Chanel last Sunday.

A 1-16 to 0-3 win over Parnells marked the first competitive game of the Bannigan era at the Stillorgan club since his move across town from St Sylvester’s.

On a cold, wet and windy morning, Crokes acquitted themselves very well with the conditions, growing more and more into the game to win comfortably in the end.

Speaking to GazetteSport, Bannigan was in jubilant mood with the opening day victory.

“We’re delighted with the win. Even more important than the two points though, as a new manager, is the things you are trying to get right with the team and in that respect I was really happy with the players and their attitude and application.”

When asked how he is settling into life at Crokes after a number of seasons at Division 1 rivals Sylvester’s, the boss gave the impression it was smooth sailing so far. “It’s been going very well so far,” he said.

“It’s a top class club. Everybody knows the size and tradition of the club. It’s massive in terms of the number of teams, players and memberships.

“But when you take over a team in any club there’s certain things you’re trying to get right in that environment in terms of the squad of players you’re trying to prepare and improve.

“First of all, in terms of the club, they’ve been hugely receptive and welcoming. It’s been very clear to me there’s a lot of very good people involved in the club at various levels.

“It’s a really top class set-up. In terms of the actual environment I’m operating with, such as the management team and the players, I’m really enjoying it so far. It’s early days yet but so good so far.”

Having been top dogs in Dublin just three years ago, Crokes’ senior footballers have had a bit of a barren spell the last two years by their own standards, with two mid-table league finishes and a couple of early eliminations from the Championship.

Can the Monaghan native be the man to return the team to its not so distant glory days? He certainly hopes so.

“I’m really hungry in terms of what I’d like to achieve with Kilmacud and so far the players have responded very positively to what we’re doing. So that hunger and commitment seem to be there, and when you have that in the environment then hopefully we can go onto have a really good season.”

Up next for Crokes on March 8 is the visit of a Na Fianna side who have won the league two out of the past three seasons.

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