Weeshie's Week

Tough defeats for the Kerry Seniors and Kerry U21s

April 17th, 2012
by Weeshie Fogarty

It will be of very little consolation to Eamon Fitzmaurice and his young men following last Wednesdays under 21 defeat by Cork that this was a massive improvement on the very inept performance at the same stage last year when the same opposition literally hammered Kerry. Nevertheless failing by just one point after extra time will raise the hopes of supporters that success is not far away. With a number of the panel young enough next year and more importantly with the attitude of the men in charge the vast improvement we saw this year will continue. Two weeks ago I wrote here that in my opinion Cork were going into the game as slight favourites and indeed that was the way it turned out as they were I felt just that little bit better than the home side who were playing catch up from the very first whistle.

The old adage, "a good start is half the battle" was once again proved true as Corked surged into an early four points lead before Kerry had settled down, then  a fortitudinous goal from the winners before half time again put Kerry on the back foot. However the biggest damage of all was done during the first half of extra time.  Once again Cork began with a devastating display. Their best period of the game saw them raise five flags, one green and two white to open up a 2-11 to 0-11 lead. Kerry failed to score in this opening period of extra time.  So Cork were that bit stronger and more physical and were able to up their game when the occasion demanded. The beginning of extra in particular proved this.

While Eamon Fitzmaurice, a born winner will be bitterly disappointed he will nevertheless look at the over all picture and he has a great foundation for next year. He and his fellow selectors did what any good manager/trainor should do; get the very maximum, the very best out of each and every one of their young men. They did this and there is no disgrace in bowing the knee to a better side.  Shane o Carroll's point from a side line kick was the best I have ever seen from an under ager player, in fact I have never seen this it done at youth level before. The tremendous fighting spirit shown by Kerry would gladden the heart while the displays of Connor Cox, Stephen o Brien, Darragh o Sullivan, Kieran Hurley and especially outstanding prospect James Walsh at midfield showed the way to their team mates. I won't even comment at the refereeing. Last week i wrote here hoping we would see a referee using common sense, I should have known better.

So Kerry's league campaign is over and done with and I believe that last Sunday's defeat should be looked at in isolation to what the league campaign in general has done for Kerry.  While defeat to Mayo was unexpected the manner of the defeat will be more worrying to the men in charge. Surrendering a four point lead in the closing stages of the game was very reminiscent of what happened against Dublin in the All Ireland final last year. The old adage "once bitten twice shy" was certainly not adhered to by the boys last Sunday and to see three of our top forwards defending inside their own twenty one meters line as Mayo came looking for scores late in the game was inviting trouble of the Dublin kind. Born forwards are not coached to be defenders and will invariably foul when they are back defending in the white heat of battle especially in Croke Park.  Whither the players do this off their own bat or are instructed to do so I simply don't know but whatever the reason it has to be looked at because it's not the Kerry tradition in Croke Park to lose two consecutive major games championship and league playing in such a defensive manner. It's very easy to develop bad habits and I would certainly be of the old school that attack is the best form of defence.

The two late Mayo goals could have been avoided and no one will know better than Kieran Donaghy himself that his sliced cross field pass from which the penalty resulted at the canal goal was totally the wrong option. All the great players learn from their faults and Kieran will never make a mistake like this again, and you can be certain of this.  Hard to figure out how wing back Colm Boyle despite being surrounded by three defenders beat Brendan Kealy for the decisive late late goal. It was a great finish by the Davitts man.  We have since learned that some of the Kerry players were under the weather as a result of some bug, Declan o Sullivan's driving runs to goal were sorely missed but generally I felt that Mayo wanted this win much more than Kerry and they looked fresher and speedier especially during extra time.  Jack o Connor and indeed many supporters I have since spoken to won't lose a wink of sleep as defeat means avoiding another clash with Cork. It looked as if the final would have been played in Killarney if it had transpired as a Kerry/Cork affair. So the big losers are the county board treasurers and the pubs and eating houses of Killarney. And if the day was good even the jarveys rake in a few bob from the visiting Cork families.

The legendary Dingle fisherman Paddy "Bawn" Brosnan winner of three All Ireland medals, eight Munster's and six Kerry County Championships once remarked to me at a function in the Skellig Hotel that "leagues were for playing in and championships for winning'.  He never won the league despite all the magnificent sides he played with in a career which lasted from 1940 to 1952. So now the Kerry management will sit down and they have lots to ponder on as they burn the mid night oil. When Kieran Donaghy went in full forward last Sunday in the second half he literally turned the whole game and his play resulted in many scores and near misses. So a decision will be arrived at as to where Star is best suited to the team. Which of the youngsters will be drafted in to the first fifteen for the championship and who will make way for them? Thomas o Se will be back and what style of football will be adopted for the championship? All of this and much more is for further debate. So hopefully any serious injury will be avoided by the star players as the business end of the season is now about to begin. In a newspaper interview last Sunday Jack o Connor summed it all up when he was quoted as saying. "winning the All Ireland is all that matters in Kerry". He never said a truer word.

The recent death of former Castleisland Desmonds and Kerry midfielder, Dermot Hanafin, at the age of eighty four has taken from our mists another of Kerry's football midfield stars.

Dermot, who was born in Fenit, was a primary teacher, and spent most of his working life in Castleisland, where he was a leading light with the local club for many years. He lined out at midfield when Castleisland District, won their only County SFC title defeating Killarney in 1950.  His mid field partner that day was John Joe Sheehan. That was a star studded Castleisland side with Eddie Walsh, The Shanahan brothers Paddy Batt and Tom as captain, Tadgh Prendiville Martin Culloty and Martin McCarthy at full forward. That was the final famous for the broken cross bar which occurred in the second half.

Dermot made eight championship appearances for Kerry between 1950 and 1953 at midfield, scoring 1-1. He won Munster medals in 1950, 51 and 53, before winning the coveted Celtic Cross in 1953. In the 1951 Munster final played in killarney Dermot scored the only goal of the game as kerry6 defeated Cork. His son Dermot Jnr also played with the Kingdom.

He was predeceased by his daughter Kathleen and to his wife Mary, sons Brendan, Kevin, Kieran and Dermot, daughters Eileen and Emir; we extend our deepest sympathys.

Radio Kerry - The Voice of the Kingdom