In 1969 the Ballymun Gaels and C.J. Kickhams Clubs merged to form Ballymun Kickhams.For the following ten years the new club toiled away at Intermediate level, but early on there were signs of better things to come with growing success at Juvenile levels. Things did get a whole lot better, culminating in the winning of the 1977 Minor IMAG023Football Championship. Immediately following this success, Gerry McCaul was
appointed player/manager. Using the Minor success as a building block, Gerry began a youth movement which was to be the foundation of the club’s success for the coming decade. In 1978 Senior status was achieved when Ballymun beat Fingal Ravens in the Intermediate league final, and this was just the start.
With all this success came recognition and several members of these teams went on to represent their county with great distinction. Anto McCaul, Barney Rock, Gerry Hargan and John Kearns all won All-Ireland medals for Dublin in 1983. The year 1979 saw the club adding the Intermediate Championship and immediately beginning to make an impression at Senior level. Promotion to Division One was achieved in successive years, and in 1981 Ballymun made it to their first Senior Championship Final with a team average age of just 21. Defeat by St. Vincents was only seen as a stepping stone, and in 1982 Senior Championship success was achieved by beating neighbors Erin’s Isle in the final. League titles in 1983 and 1984 followed, and in 1985 it was championship success again, this time beating Clontarf in the final. Success continued and two further league titles were added in 1987 and 1988. Barney Rock’s (in)Famous Goal Included in RTE’s Top Sport Moments
Barney Rock’s (in)Famous Goal Included in RTE’s Top Sport Moments
Other members of the club to represent their county were Declan Sheehan, Dermot Deasy (All Ireland medal winner 1995)Tom Carr, Adrian Walshe, Paddy Christie, Ian Robertson, Davey Byrne and Darren Ducie.
Kickhams have also had distinction in management with Ballymun men, Val Andrews and Gerry McCaul nationally recognised as two of the better county managers in recent years. Success has also been achieved off the field.
In 1997 Kickhams opened new facilities which included a fine pavilion and grounds. Phase two, under the watchful eye of the aforementioned Val Andrews saw the development of a fully floodlight artificial pitch.
This project was completed March 2003 and with Ireland’s compromise rules team, several county teams and Dublin Inter-County teams using the facility, it is highly regarded and considered one of the finest playing and training facilities in Europe if not the world.
It has been suggested that with the huge effort developing our facilities we lost focus on what made the club great in the first place. Back in the early seventies the bed rock for developing a juvenile section in the club was the local school and the street leagues. Today it is again the schools, this time supported by a very successful nursery system.
At the time Ballymun Kickhams were planting the seeds of recovery at juvenile, there was always something that galvanized the club. There was the successful junior b team in 2003 followed by the ladies in 2007 (they would be so proud of what is happening today) and of course who could forget the hurlers of 2008. We were never that far from the news either. We featured very prominently the TV series Celebrity Bainisteoir followed a little later in “Pride of the Parish”.
Prior to the concerted focus on improvement at Juvenile there were revolutionaries at work. In 1996 Paddy Christie was emerging as a force on the field at both club and county level. He was also quietly putting together a management team and a group of very young and talented ten year olds that would help build something very very special down the road. Paddy and his team brought a new approach to panel development. This team stayed together all the way through to adult and became a huge feeder system to what was then an aging senior panel. There were other teams beginning to thrive at the time as well, in fact Dean Rock, James McCarthy, Ted Furman and Jason Whelan were one year into their senior career when players of the caliber Alan Hubbard, Eoin Dolan, Sean Curry and Philly McMahon and many more progressed to adult level from Paddy’s team. When he handed this group off to the adult section what did Paddy do next? He went back and started again. Took a group of under tens, kept them together and developed them. In 2011 this group of young men won the division 1 of the prestigious Feile competition, a first national title in the club’s history. The following year they won the county juvenile championship, again for the first time in clubs history. As I type this team is preparing for the county minor championship.
With all this emerging talent Kickhams made the decision to invite an outsider into the club to manage our senior team. Paul Curran joined the club in 2011 and in 2012 Ballymun won their 3rd senior county championship and the first one since 1985. From there Paul took this team into Leinster and on December 9th 2012 Ballymun Kickhams won their first ever Leinster Senior Football Final, defeating Portlaoise, in Mullingar. The All Ireland semifinal was against Dr. Crokes of Kerry, the Mun beat them by 1-10 to 0-9. Our little club with the big heart was headed to the All-Ireland Final on St. Patrick’s Day in Croke Park to play St. Brigids from Roscommon. We lost by a point and although that was a very sad day we can all look back on that achievement with great pride. During that great run, the team time and again evoked the name Sean Andrews as a motivation for them. Sean was our Chairman for a few years but more importantly exemplified the pride and passion that makes our little club so special to us all. Sean passed away suddenly in 2011. Not long after that memorable St. Patrick’s Day in 2012 the club lost Chairman, Tom Donohue. Larger than life and cut from the same cloth as Sean Andrews some would say that run to the All-Ireland kept Tom alive longer than god had planned for him to be.
After a very satisfying and successful stint as senior manager Paul Curran stepped down from his position last year. The club appointed Anto McCaul as his successor, Anto will have Declan Sheehan at his side. Passion won’t be an issue this year, that’s for sure.
As they say “a rising tide catches all boats” and that is plain for all to see at Kickhams. Our intermediate team went undefeated in the league and last year was promoted to division 3. A very young junior team was also unlucky to miss out on promotion last year. The relationships with our schools continue to be strong and our nurseries are thriving. The ladies are playing a more and more important role in the club. There are two ladies currently on the club executive committee, the Gaelic4Girls project is booming and there are two very competitive girls juvenile teams competing every week. Their impact on the club has been very significant.