Ballymun emerge tall from the rubble
So Christie stepped in and did it himself. He rounded up the makings of an under-nine team and started coaching them. Bit by bit and year by year, they kept improving. For the next dozen or so years, he stayed with them.
They lost back-to-back minor finals in the middle of the last decade but turned it around to win under-21 county championships in 2007 and 2008.
“That team is the back-bone of the senior team now,” says O’Donoghue. “That was all down to Paddy.”
Along the way, they got the rest of their house in order. From under-nine all the way up, they have two teams for each age group now. And they have the facilities to go with them, although that wasn’t entirely straight-forward either.
“We got an all-weather pitch built back around 10, 11 years ago,” says O’Donoghue. “And sure it was the biggest con-job of all time. We lied to everybody. Everybody. We had €16,000 starting off for a €1.1m project. But we needed the facilities and the logic we went with at the time was, ‘Well, if the turf is down and the lights are up, they’re not going to come and take them away.’
“We put fierce pressure on Fianna Fáil at the time. We let it be known that Val Andrews was prepared to stand in the next general election.
“We’re in a three-seater constituency and Fianna Fáil had two of them, Pat Carey and Noel Ahern. So we said, ‘Look, Val will gather votes in Ballymun, in Finglas, in Glasnevin, all around the place. He’s in football all his life, he’s lecturing in the area too. He’d be a big threat.’
“We eventually got three or four hundred thousand of a grant from the National Lottery.”
You do what you can, you build and you work and you hope. Ballymun Kickhams have made it back to their first county final in 23 years and on Monday night in Parnell Park, they’ll drink in every minute. They know better than anybody that next year could be a long time coming.
“It’s a great way for the club to come back together again,” says Andrews.
“You know the way it is when you’re young – you don’t appreciate what you have. And I’d say that’s the way we were in the ’80s, we probably just didn’t appreciate how good we had it.
“We thought we’d always be at the top, that we’d always be the kingpins and up there along with the likes of Vincents all the time. It’s coming again and the structures are good this time.”