Two Mile House and the Kilcummin connection
By Oisin Langan
Back in the summers of 2008 and 2009, Kilcummin man Billy Doolan used to let his nephew and future Two Mile House player Caomhán into Fitzgerald Stadium for the odd kick around. He couldn’t have known that he was helping create a threat to his beloved club. A decade later, Kilcummin face Two Mile House in the All-Ireland semi-final and guess who’s in the team? Only his nephew, who probably honed some of his skills in the shadow of the mountains that encircle Killarney. Although Caomhán is from Kildare, his father Michael’s people are staunch Kilcummin people. His Kerry heritage has worked out well for the Kildare club with Doolan confirming “I was always proud to have family from Kerry and then to follow that football line because the Kingdom were so good.”
Caomhán has represented his school Newbridge College, his underage club Athgarvan and his adult club Two Mile House with pride but admits his love of football was formed by those kickabouts on the hallowed turf of Fitzgerald Stadium. “I used to practise kicking scores. Fitzgerald Stadium is where the greats were, so being there helped develop my love of football.”
“It was always the Gooch,” says Doolan when asked who his childhood hero was, adding “he could kick a point over any player on both feet, so I used to practise that with my Dad. He used to go behind the goals and I’d just keep kicking scores.”
Although born and raised in Kildare, Doolan says the lure of following the green and gold of Kerry was too much to resist. “We used to go to all the games in Croke Park. We used to watch all the great like Gooch and Dara Ó Sé. I’d even go to watch the interprovincial Championship Leinster vs Munster matches to keep an eye on the Kerry players. One of my prized possessions is a signed Kerry jersey by former manager Pat O’Shea that I got one day when my uncle brought me to Kerry training.”
When Doolan talks about football it’s clear he loves the game, a love developed by his Kilcummin father. “When we’d go on holidays we’d always bring a ball with us and he had me soloing with my eyes closed, which I enjoyed. He made football fun and still believes to this day that everything should be done with the ball. He’s disappointed when he hears about training without footballs because he believes everything should be ball work.”
It’s been a busy few months for Doolan who’s mixed his college commitments with football, winning county and provincial titles. The provincial final clashed with one of his exams but somehow, he managed to fit both in. Bad weather meant the helicopter that was due to take him from Tullamore to University of Limerick was cancelled so he had to jump into a car to make the dash without even time for a shower “I looked over a few notes in the car on the way down and arrived at the exam five minutes late and still in my match gear including my wet socks. I wouldn’t say anyone sitting around me was too pleased!” While he’s still awaiting the results, Doolan reckons he did ok in the exam.
Two Mile House have had quite the journey in recent years, winning the All-Ireland junior title in 2014 and four years later becoming a senior club for the very first time. The high of the All-Ireland win however was matched by the terrible low of forward Adam Burke’s on field stroke in 2016. After a long road, Burke is recovering and is still a central part of the club. His pre-county final speech this season was a key part of the team’s preparation. Recalling Burke’s inspirational words, Doolan says “He calmed us down and took any nerves away. He spoke about how much he’d love to be on the pitch, asking those of us who get the opportunity to go out and have no regrets afterwards. When someone like Adam Burke speaks, you listen.”
Doolan was too young to feature in the All-Ireland win of 2014. It was historic, as it was the first time a men’s team from Kildare won a national club title. He says seeing the club enjoy such success is driving the younger generation to claim their own piece of history and the older players also want to repeat their heroics. Although the youth are keen to make their mark, the wise old head of Peter Kelly is still a driving force. The All Star is the “biggest influence in the team” according to Doolan, who says he has unbelievable game smarts and is constantly communicating throughout matches. Lillywhite forward Chris Healy is also among the Two Mile House ranks, with Doolan outlining his ball winning ability as a key asset “just get the ball to him and he’ll put it over the bar” says his young teammate of the county star.
So, what of the game itself? Will Doolan’s Kilcummin father be conflicted or will he be one hundred percent behind Two Mile House on the day? “He’ll be wearing the Two Mile House jersey that day,” says Doolan. “I reckon he’ll be hoping we’ll win because then he’ll have something to slag his brothers about!”
Although he dreamed of playing in the green and gold of Kerry as a child, it’s the green and gold of Two Mile House that is now the centre of Caomhán Doolan’s attention.
Two Mile House play Kilcummin in the AIB All Ireland Intermediate Football semi-final on Sunday January 20th at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick. Throw in is at 2pm.