Interview with Goalkeeper "Kieran Kilkelly"
1. When did you join Athenry FC and when did you leave?
- I joined Athenry when I was 13 and it was my first and only soccer club through my playing career. I was asked to join Salthill U18s when I was in my final year of U18 but it was never a runner for me as I always wanted to be loyal to Athenry no matter what. I finished my career early, in June 2011 when I was just turned 26. I decided to move abroad to Canada for work purposes, which in my work career was a great move for me but it was also a decision which still very much hurts me from a soccer career perspective.
2. Who was the biggest influence on you?
- I had a few role models within the club, each in there own different ways. Peter Gilhooley & Tommy Fahy got me started from a young age and encouraged me to learn always from my mistakes and be part of a team. When I was 14/15 looking at Mickey and Paddy Quinn playing first team so young and then Stephen Rabbitte and Cathal Fahy playing shortly after, that was where I wanted to be playing as well. Adrian Cronin was a big influence when I did break through on the first team as he really developed my skill set as a goalkeeper in a short space of time, which really played a big part in me having the success I had.
3. What did you achieve in your time at the Club?
- I won 3 Premier Leagues, 4 Connaught Cups and 1 league cup with the first team and also a lower division league with our second team, I cant remember if it was division 2A or 2B at the time.
4. What are your three most memorable moments with Athenry FC?
- There are so many... My favourite memory is winning the Clubs third Connaught Cup against Hibs in Terryland 2-1 in 2010. In the 2nd half I stepped up and made a couple of big saves when needed and I got great personal satisfaction from that in doing my bit to help us win as a team that day. I always remember hugging my parents after that game on the pitch and there were both emotional about it, that was really special.
Second best memory was in Mervue in May 2008, when I witnessed possibly one of the greatest individual goals scored from an unknown striker playing for us from Poland - Vlasta. We were going for the league, playing our biggest rivals away from home, the other league chasers - Hibs, all at the game chearing for Mervue to do them a favour and beat us. We were 2-0 up after 40 minutes, playing very solidly and Vlasta picked up the ball just inside the centre circle in our half. He skipped by one challenge, turned and handed off another opposition player, stayed sprinting towards their box. Another slide tackle from a mervue player was missed, Vlasta then skipped by their centre half, got to the edge of the box, mervue keeper was out to the penalty spot and Vlasta smashed a bullet of a shot from the 18 yard line off the under side of the cross bar and in. We went wild, Hibs lads left at half time, the league was won after that goal, it was an unreal piece of skill!
Third memory was every night & nights out after we won a trophy! We always deserved our trophies we won as we had some great teams that put in a lot of hard work to win them. The feeling of winning and celebrating with everyone from players, management and supporters was just unreal - an honourable mention goes to a certain house party in Packies house after we won our second Connaught Cup, that was unforgettable HAHA
5. What three things did you enjoy most about playing for Athenry FC?
- Simple answer... all my teammates, managers and supporters through the years. All were top quality in their own ways and just added to the enjoyment of playing for the club every week.
6. Who was the toughest opponent you ever played against?
- Mervue were always the toughest I thought, all the way from underage to first team. They always played good football, they were always physically hard in games, always had a great local spine of a team which made them so tough to beat. When and if you ever did beat them in any competition, it was always satisfying as you knew it was an achievement to do so.
7. In all the squads you have been part of can you name the following:
Funny Guy - Paddy Quinn - Should have been a stand up comedian outside of soccer
Tough as Nails - Emmett Byrne - You always wanted him on your side!
Fastest player - Johnny 'speedy gonzales' Mernagh
Most Skillful - Ollie Keogh, Gary Forde and Alan O'Donovan with a wand of a right foot!
Most Grumpy - Packie Byrne and maybe Stephen Rabbitte in his younger days but that's when they played their best though when grumpy!
Best Player - Very difficult decision for me between Jamie O'Driscoll and Cathal Fahy. Genuinely, I couldn't pick one over the other, top class players both on and off the pitch.
8. From all the players you have played with, name your strongest five a side team which includes yourself:
Defender - Mike Fahy
Defender - Aiden Fahy
Midfielder - Shane Gilhooley
Striker - Cathal Fahy
Manager - Timmy Feeney
Team Name - Lesters Clowns
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