By Ciarán Ó Flaithearta
Zoom opened and Dint sat before me on my computer screen, baby Airlaith on his knee, which even though I have trained with him for the past two seasons and knew he was a dad it was still a little weird for me to see him holding a baby instead of a rugby ball. Let’s look into who our club captain Kieran Downey is, as he marks his 50th AIL cap for the club this weekend.
Kieran Downey grew up in the southwest village of Knocknagoshel, Co. Kerry, like most areas of Kerry a football stronghold. After watching the Six Nations on the telly one-year Dint decided he wanted to pick up the oval ball aswell as the round one to play with Castleisland rugby club “I started playing there as an eight-year-old and I haven’t really stopped since”.
By the age of 16, he had won a Munster U16 title and reached an All Ireland semi-final with Castleisland where they were narrowly beaten in the Sports Ground “which was massive at the time for our club being just a Junior club and to be playing against the likes of big clubs like Buccaneers and to run them that close in an All Ireland semi-final was massive”. Dint went on to play Junior with Castleisland where he also captained that team “as a younger fella”. He played his first years in the AIL with both Kanturk and then Bruff while also making appearances at provincial level for Munster Under 18s and later on the Munster juniors for four years.
While playing rugby in college Dint earned his nickname, after a reoccurring cut caused a dent to form on the bridge of his “The boys in college started calling me ‘Dint’ and it just stuck from there. I know it’s a dent but it’s the way your man used to say it sounded like ‘Dint’,”
Dint moved to Galway with his partner in 2018 after building a house and getting jobs in the county, as so his journey with Galwegians began.
Dint had still been playing with Castleisland and Bruff when he moved to Galway but after training twice with Wegians, Beano asked if he would play against Nenagh the following weekend “I said yes, I didn’t really need to think about it”.
When asked to recall his first cap he responded with a laugh “oh I got sin-binned, and Abdulaq and I made our debut the same day.” He went on to play the next 4 games that season. The following season he signed over fully to the Galwegians and he’s played every game since, claiming the number eight jersey and in 2021/22 season he was asked by Ja to be captain, “and this year I wasn’t even asked I think they just assumed”.
Dint has come a long way since first pulling on the blue jersey in 2019 with the chance this Saturday to make his 50thappearance for the club vs Wanderers for Dint “it happened fairly quickly,…it’s a big mile stone, when you play one or two it’s a novelty but anymore than that your focus changes,.. but any big milestone like that is special”.
Since making his debut in 2019 he’s had some memorable moments on the pitch, some of his least favourite being last years relegation battle “and any time we lose a derby to Corinthians is a poor moment even as an outsider”. But there have been some special ones too in the mix despite the latest result vs Enniscorthy the game before the Christmas break stood out to him “any day you score seven tries is a special one”, Dint having scored two of the seven himself, but a win vs Dungannon in 2019 stands out.“Dungannon away in 2019, its so hard to go up north and win away, we beat them quite convincingly, we actually kept them scoreless at home against a team from Ulster is very difficult to do, so that has to be one of my favourite moments”.
With all that now behind him Dint looks towards this weekend vs Wanderers “it’s about getting the points this weekend against Wanderers and then trying to take points away from Greystones and get ourselves up and running after the disappointing result last weekend”.
With 50 caps under his belt Dint is well and truly a Galwegian for him and he shows that through his leadership on and off the pitch and understanding what it means to be a Galwegian “Like the club song says it’s all about the show”.