Kickhams look to revive debut title win trend
For the fourth year running the climax of the AIB club football championship will feature a club in the final for the first time. Ballymun Kickhams will be looking to restore an historical trend, which has seen more than half of the football championship titles go to clubs making a debut appearance in the deciding fixture.
Yet for the past eight seasons the winning clubs have all been ones, who have previously been in finals. Getting beaten at the final hurdle has historically not alone been a huge disappointment for a club but in 26 of 42 finals the losing club has not managed to benefit from the experience by coming back at any stage to win a title.
The upside for the Dublin champions is the overall statistics are against their opponents St Brigid’s, who lost on their only previous appearance on St Patrick’s Day.
Since the first championship in 1971, only St Vincent’s, Ballina, Salthill and St Gall’s have had an initial losing final experience and gone on to win the title.
The most recent of those teams was St Gall’s, who in the 2010 final defeated Clare’s first representatives at that level, Kilmurry-Ibrickane, having lost in 2006 to Salthill.
Lenny Harbinson, not in charge that year but manager of the successful team three seasons ago, believes whereas the disappointment was a contributory factor there were also other factors.
“You’d have to say experience did count for something in that they knew what to expect on the day but also the team was made up of a lot of county players as well, so they had played in front of reasonable crowds before.
“There was also the element of knocking on the door for so many years winning Antrim titles and not taking it farther. I knew there was a great nucleus there with the potential to do something and who had, basically, under-achieved.”
Surprisingly, he says there was no overt reference made to the first final. “We never spoke about 2006. It was the elephant in the room but we avoided talking about it.
“If I changed something it was probably the focus on the championship. We effectively neglected the league so we didn’t have to start training properly until June or July and once we got to the Ulster championship we’d been on the go for only a few months rather than all year.
“One practical thing was in 2006 the players came down and stayed in a hotel but three years ago we stayed and got Mass in St Gall’s Monastery on the morning of the game. The new road from Belfast is very quick and we were able to stay in our own beds the night before.”
Kildare have lost midfielder Gary White for the championship. The Army officer told the Kildare Nationalist he is to be posted in Lebanon for six months from May.