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10th Feb 2022

“He’s available for selection” – Mark Vaughan is still playing his part in making Kilmacud Crokes history

Lee Costello

“He’s probably one of the most enthusiastic players on the team to be honest.”

The blonde bombshell is more universally known for his short, but well-documented stint with the Dublin inter-county football team.

In 2005, he burst onto the scene, immediately standing out with his bleached blonde hair, winter white boots and a tendency to chat the ear off his marker, all while playing some very impressive football.

That Dublin panel between ’05 and ’08 were almost celebrity-like in their status, and no one epitomised that more than the Kilmacud Crokes forward, who’s sharp shooting and unbelievable range from the dead ball, meant that he could walk the walk, just as much as he could talk the talk.

However, when Pat Gilroy took over in 2008, his Dublin career came to a swift end, and although those outside of Crokes might consider it to be a case of “what could have been”, anyone involved in the club would argue he not only reached his potential, but exceeded it.

In 2009 he was the marquee forward in the side that won the All-Ireland club title, an achievement that is almost too big to even dream about for 99% of club players out there.

Despite suffering from serious injuries and setbacks, the veteran finisher is still involved with his native Kilmacud Crokes, and his teammates can’t praise him enough for his contribution.

“He’s available for selection,” said Paul Mannion in the lead-up to the Leinster semi-final.

“He’s on the squad, and he’s training away with us. He hadn’t actually been there for the last couple of years, but I think from speaking to him and speaking to a couple of others, I think he felt that he had more to contribute and he wanted to help the younger players coming through.

“He’s done a great job with that, in fairness to him. He’s really, really vocal in the dressing room, and he has a lot of experience having been through a number of Leinster campaigns.

“He obviously won the All-Ireland in 2009. He’s a great addition to have in the dressing room. Growing up watching the Crokes senior team, they were really my Gaelic football idols when I was a young player.

“Dublin were going through a bit of a barren spell in those years, and Crokes were winning a number of Dublin championships, getting to Leinster finals, the All-Ireland finals.

“So the likes of Vaughanie, Ray Cosgrove, the Magee brothers and those kinds of lads were my kind of heroes. It was 2012 when I got to play with Vaughanie first. We had a great few years playing together.”

Midfielder Craig Dias, broke onto the senior team a year after they had won that ’09 All-Ireland title, so he went from being a starstruck fan, to a teammate of the Dublin legend.

“He’s been exceptional since he’s come back in this year. He’s had a couple of injuries. So it’s been hard for him to push for minutes.

“But he’s so vocal and he helps guys and he mentors guys as well. Especially before, and even myself like I’ve been blocked down a couple of times.

“He takes me aside and he says ‘you need to be angling your body differently’ or says the transition where I should be setting up in terms of attack.

“So he’s doing that with different players. Like even Paul Mannion will be speaking to Vaughan about things, he has such a knowledge and repository of sport, not just Gaelic football. There is a large range where he can pull in different learnings from different sports.

“It’s brilliant to have him in there from a performance aspect. Just a pity he has had so many injuries because he would be pushing for minutes.”

Paul Mannion is undoubtably the star of this current team, and Craig Dias is already a club legend and stalwart, but the future of the forward line very much belongs to Dara Mullin.

The young gunslinger was just a teenager when he was watching the now 36-year-old strut his stuff on the big stage, and believes that having him around is invaluable to the team.

“It’s great. I’ve been playing with him now for a couple of years and he is someone who I looked up to as a youngster in terms of his skillset, his confidence and that.

“It was just, no matter what happens in a game, he was always willing to take on the next ball, the next shot. So just chatting to you about his experiences.

“He’s probably one of the most enthusiastic players on the teams to be honest. He’s always out there kicking balls and taking penos and kicking scores off the outside of the left and things like this.

“He’s great again, for the young players, to see that enthusiasm he has for the game at his age.”

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