Dundalk FC striker Ciaran Kilduff has left the defending League of Ireland champions to move to American NASL side the Jacksonville Armada FC.
Kilduff, who scored 31 goals in 82 appearances for the lilywhites, including the match winner against Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the Europa League group stages, the first ever win for an Irish side in European competition, leaves Dundalk on good terms and reflects on his two years at club as the best of his career.
“It has been the best two years of my football career,” Kilduff told Dundalk’s official club website.
“There’s no other way to describe it. It has been the best dressing room, the best staff, best management team that I have been involved with. I have had some really great moments personally, individually and collectively as a team with the club.
“I have had some bad moments as well with some injuries too. It was eventful along the way.
“I am just really happy to have been a part of something which has been so great. There was so many great nights and moments for us. To be part of it is something that I will always be proud of.
“Dundalk has been an amazing story in Irish football in the last five-six years from where they came from to where they are now. I am just so happy and proud to have been part of it.”
Kilduff said that his move to the Armada was a ‘now or never’ opportunity for him and his family, and that he’ll be looking to try and emulate former Shamrock Rovers teammate Richie Ryan’s move from the Hoops to the NASL.
“For me, I will always look back at this as the greatest two years in Ireland,” added Kilduff.
“This is something which is completely out of left field. It is something which has interested me in maybe the last year or so if the opportunity came. I have a young family so the timing seems right for me.
“When my daughter gets a little older and gets to school going age things will have to change so I felt that this was a ‘now or never’ situation for me. Football in America is taking off. I am going over there to grasp it and try to further myself.
“I see players like Richie Ryan and players like that who have bettered themselves and furthered their careers.
“There is so much over there, so much room for progression over there. It’s not something I have taken lightly at all.
“It’s a lifestyle change and it is something that I have been open to for a while. It has just fallen for me at this time. It ticks a lot of boxes for me and I am excited to get going.”
Kilcock’s adopted son Brian Murray was honoured along with his Donegal team mates during half time of last Sunday’s Ulster final between Tyrone and Down in Clones for their success in capturing the title in 1992.
The occassion marked the 25th anniversary of his sides 0-14 to 1-9 victory over Derry at the same venue.
The players and management were kitted out for the day by Magees of Donegal Town, where they met up on the Sunday morning before departing for St Tiernach’s Park.
The team travelled to Clones, just like they did 25 years earlier, courtesy of Marleys Coaches with Francie Marley, just like he was in ’92, behind the wheel.
After the game the entire squad and management were the special guests at a celebratory meal in the Four Seasons Hotel, before going their seperate ways.
Except for Jim McGuinness (Beijing), Charlie Mulgrew (holidays) and John Joe Doherty (family bereavement), all the rest of the ’92 squad turned out on the day.
Murray and his team mates went on to beat Mayo in the All-Ireland semi final by 0-13 to 0-09 before defeating Dublin 0-18 to 0-14 in the final. They will be honoured again before the All-Ireland football final in September.
Murray now resides in Kilcock along with his wife Della and two children Ciaran and Lorna. All four are heavily involved in the local Gaa scene, where Brian himself played and managed for a number of years.
Kilcock native Deirbhle Mulvihill who was named as the 2017 Kildare Rose in April continued her duties at the weekend with a visit to the Curragh races at the popular Guineas meeting.
Deirbhle who plays gaelic football for Cappagh is said to have had a fantastic day and even appeared in the picture round of a table quiz, with many people mistaking her for one of the Seoige sisters!!
Best of luck to Deirbhle with all her rose duties and with a busy few months ahead, the best is surely yet to come.
Kilcullen were promoted to the intermediate ranks after overcoming Milltown in a replay of last year’s junior final, before going on an impressive run through the Leinster Championship that saw them lose at the semi-final stage to Bracknagh. They have a team that is well set up to keep their heads above water in this year’s campaign, and Sunday’s tie against Kilcock presented the perfect opportunity to settle into their new surroundings.
From the get go this was an intriguing encounter in which neither side ever looked destined to pull away from the other, and it remained that way right through.
The first half finished all square, with Kilcullen hitting the major score of the half through Brian Bell as he rustled the net in the 22nd minute. That goal came at an important time for the Rags as they had conceded four points in a row as Kilcock powered into a 0-6 to 0-2 lead, with Eoin McArdle striking three points from play during that period for the leaders.
Points from Darragh Timolin and Paul Jones before the interval helped Kilcullen to go in level as the scores stood 1-4 to 0-7 at the break.
The second half was every bit as even as both sides traded blows continuosly, with David Marshall landing two for the Rags while Daragh McArdle and Willie Bright were on target for Kilcock. Outside of the excellent Marshall, Paul Bell was Kilcullen’s only other scorer before the end of the game as he floated over a beautiful long range point, and at the other end Eoin and Daragh McArdle pointed frees either side of an excellent score from Bright as Kilcock led by one with 10 minutes to go.
Marshall levelled matters with a free from the right wing in the 53rd minute, and it looked like anyone’s game by this stage.
A frantic final 10 minutes ensued in which both sides squandered gilt-edged chances to find a winner in almost comical fashion, but a draw was probably a fair outcome and these two sides will meet again on Thursday night to determine a winner.
Scorers for Kilcock: E McArdle 0-5(1f), D McArdle 0-3 (1f) and W Bright 0-3(1f), D Courtney 0-1.
Scorers for Kilcullen: D Marshall 0-5(2f), B Bell 1-0, P Bell 0-2, P Jones and D Timolin 0-1 each
The Intermediate footballers of Kilcock get their championship campaign up and running tomorrow against 2016 Junior A champions Kilcullen at 2pm in Hawkfield.
It is expected that manager Declan Gibbons will field a youthful looking side as the club continues to go through something of a transitional period. Many of these lads were part of the 2016 minor league winning team so are no strangers to success but it is all about been able to make that step up to the adult ranks.
Fearghal O’Brien and Shane O’Rourke are definitely on the absentees list as they spend the summer Stateside but Daniel Courtney is expected to feature.
Kilcock should have too much for the team known as ‘The Rags’ but they cannot take anything for granted as the men in black and white look to write another chapter in their rags to riches story!!