Eamonn Callaghan, Naas captain
Kildare may only have just four All-Ireland (senior) titles to their credit, the last all the way back to 1928 — yes all of 93 years ago — it is something that Kildare manager, Glenn Ryan, touched on when we spoke soon after he was appointed to his role as Kildare senior manager a few months ago.
Glenn expressed the hope that that stat would change before the centenary of that day would come around in 2028 — regardless of who was in charge.
Back then Naas were one of the most dominant clubs in the county, and between 1922 and 1932 they appeared in no less than eight senior finals, winning six and losing two.
That 1932 final when the team from the county town defeated Curragh, was the last time they appeared in a county final until 1990 when they defeated Clane. They made it back-to-back finals the following year, this time Clane turning the tables but little did anyone realise at the time that the boys in blue and white would not make it to a county senior final again until a short few weeks ago — after a gap of 30 years.
Amazing or what?
Really when one looks back on it, it is a truely shocking statistic for a club, a proud club, representing the county town.
No such thing back in the late '20s and early '30s as provincial club championships, not to mention All-Ireland Club finals.
Back then after All-Irelands, the next best thing was The Railway Cup, played on St Patrick's Day.
Slowly but surely the provincial club and All-Ireland series has taken over and there is now little doubt that after the All-Ireland inter-county series as we know it today, the next greatest achievement (leaving aside the personal achievement of winning an All-Star) is undoubtedly a Provincial Club (and All-Ireland) medal.
The provincial club and All-Ireland series has, without question, been one of the great success stories of the GAA since its inception in 1970/ 71, won by, no surprise, East Kerry.
The GAA is built on clubs, it is the lifeblood of the Association, the grassroots, the solid rock that makes it what it is.
Just take a look around when driving throughout the country, north, south, east or west, every parish, every town and village has a GAA pitch and even in those so called modern times, the GAA club remains the mainstay of the area, the life, the heart, the soul of town and village.
That is what makes the provincial club series so important and while it has taken until 2021/ 22 for Headquarters to finally realise the vital role that club players and clubs in general play with the new split season it is nevertheless welcomed albeit many, many years overdue.
So when Naas players and of course Kilmacud Crokes run out on the sacred turf of Croke Park on Saturday, they will be making history; yes Naas more so than their Dublin counterparts but nevertheless making history.
The Naas club has been a sleeping giant since it all but fell off the radar back in the '30s and again in the '90s.
One can only wonder what would the likes of former greats of Naas, both at club and All-Ireland county level think of the team of 2021.
Players such as Jack Higgins, Gus Fitzpatrick, Joe Curtis, Tom Wheeler and Dan Ryan, to name just a few.
History awaits the Naas Club on Saturday, starved of success for so long, this is an opportunity to join the former greats, — chances like this don't come around too often.
Let's be having you!
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