Shelbourne's Ciaran Kilduff(Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson)

Ciaran Kilduff putting full focus on football for Shelbourne's Premier Division return

The striker has chosen to go full-time this season


Ciaran Kilduff has put his career on hold to make the most of his ‘bonus season’ in the League of Ireland.

Away from football, Kilduff is a teacher - geography and economics - and he juggled both in the First Division last season having returned from playing in America.

But about to embark on a first top-fight campaign since leaving Dundalk in 2017, Kilduff knew something had to give.

The Shelbourne striker told Mirror Sport: “I'm concentrating full-time on football, even though Shelbourne are part-time.

“I've been in the Premier Division before and I know how hard it is. I want to do myself justice and it's something I didn't appreciate until I saw both sides of the coin.

"I've been lucky enough to play full-time at Dundalk, Shamrock Rovers and St Pat's. Last season, I was teaching as well.

“It’s not that I found it overly difficult but at the end of a long working week, you’re trying to prepare for a game and it’s hard.

“Once we got promoted, I made some adjustments in my personal life and once I balanced the books, I knew I’d enjoy the football even more.”
Ciaran Kilduff, third from right, at the SSE Airtricity League launch(Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne)

In the summer of 2017, Kilduff left the Lilywhites and moved his young family to Florida where he signed for Jacksonville Armada.

And by his own admission, the 31-year-old thought he was waving goodbye to the League of Ireland for good.

“It’s an easy sound bite but honestly, I’m hungrier than I’ve ever been,” he continued.

“Even more so now as this feels like a bonus year for me. When I went to America and finished up with Dundalk, I was happy with my lot.

“I thought I was finishing at the top and I was completely finished with the League of Ireland."

Kilduff loved his 18 months away but uncertainty over the future of the NASL forced him into a rethink.

“This is my 14th pre-season in the League of Ireland. That’s a lot of time to give to the league,” he added.

“But that break in America has rejuvenated my hunger for our league. I couldn't be happier to be back in the Premier Division. I feel like a kid again.”

Kilduff caught a glimpse of Shelbourne’s potential when their away fans filled the Des Kelly stand at Dalymount Park for last year’s FAI Cup clash with Bohs.

“You think of derbies and it’s always Rovers-Bohs but that’s also a hell of a fixture,” said Kilduff, who joins forces again with his good pal and former housemate Karl Sheppard.

“That night lit a fire under me and made me realise the beauty of the League when you’ve been away from it for a while.”