Weeshie's Week

Bruddy was one of the all time greats

October 6th, 2015
by Weeshie Fogarty

When Jack o Connor guided his young Kerry lads to a second consecutive All Ireland minor title last month he was following in the footsteps of the late Dr Jim Brosnan who also achieved that distinction with his two great minor sides in 1962-63. Those star studded sides of over fifty years ago are historic for the fact that two brothers from the famed John Mitchels club Tralee wrote themselves into history's pages as they became and remain to this day the only two brothers to have won back to back All Ireland minor football medals.
Bruddy and Seanie Burrows were two outstanding Kerry sportsmen excelling at both football and basketball and in to days world when we are bombarded with stories and explanations of over training, over playing, tiredness and other pretexts these two men were playing at the very top of their two sports. Minor and senior football with their club, minor football with Kerry, minor and senior basketball with Kerry and their clubs, and of course this necessitated intense training nearly every day of the week.
And it was with great sadness that I heard of the death of the older of the two boys, Bruddy, last Friday morning, Friday October 2nd. Only two weeks previously I had the great privilege of spending time in his company as he and his family celebrated his 70th birthday. Unfortunately the cancer which he had been fighting with great determination and resolve escalated in the intervening weeks and this courteous, quite, gentle and polite sportsman who rarely spoke of his achievements took his last breaths in Tralee General Hospital.
A born and bred John Mitchels man Bruddy spent all his young days as he told me. "Shooting at a basketball ring hanging from a telephone pole in Mitchels Avenue with my friends. Our coach Mickey Murphy was a great help to us when we joined the FCA team and later we founded our own club Na Mistelaig". This was the beginning of a magnificent career for Bruddy, his club captured two minor and five Kerry senior championships as they and Tralee Tannery dominated that golden era of Kerry basketball. My own clubs The Busbybabes were also to the fore during this wonderful era winning minor, junior and senior county championships.
The Kerry minor selectors were quick to spot this emerging young Tralee star and at just fourteen years of age Bruddy was selected for the county minors in 1960 and he went on to dominate the boards as he won four All Irelands in a row. And to add to his joy his brother Seanie was on two of those winning sides. 1969 saw the two boys help Kerry to a historic senior All Ireland basketball title, the first of two for Bruddy. His lifelong friend Bruddy o Grady was player/coach to the team and his memories of Bruddy are vivid and special. "He was a wonderful player; one of the best two players I have ever seen in this county, Paudie o Connor, Killarney was the other. Bruddy was a superb athlete, possessed a wonderful jump shot and would regularly shoot, twenty thirty, and forty points in big championship games. I remember one weekend he helped Kerry win a Munster junior on Saturday and the following day starred as Kerry won minor and senior Munster title".
It was inevitable that the Irish selectors would come calling and Bruddy went on to win 25 Irish caps, being honored with the captaincy on more than one occasion. His memories were mixed as regards these Irish appearances, " "money was scares and often we would have to thumb a lift to play with Ireland but my parents were great they always had a few bob to help Seanie and myself and the late Denis Foley often paid for our fare too, he was a very generous person. I played in Paris, London, Glasgow, Manchester and all over Ireland. I spent two years in London and played with London Polytechnic who had four English internationals and I played football with the Kingdom club there winning a London championship, but I always longed to be back in Tralee".
Combining basketball and football at the highest level was no problem to Bruddy and Seanie. He won his first All-Ireland medal in 1960 with the Kerry Vocational Schools but 1962 and 1963 were momentous years in the Burrows house hold as the two boys starred in the green and gold winning those back to back All Ireland minor medals. Seanie at left corner back and Bruddy outside him, Mayo were defeated in 1962 with a record score 6-5 to 0-7. Six John Mitchels lads were on that team, a remarkable achievement and Jimmy o Mahoney the captain scored 3-2. A massive day for the Mitchels as Sean Og Sheehy captained the Kerry seniors to victory over Roscommon.
While Bruddy went on to win two senior county championships with the club to add to the minor county championship medal of 1961 failure to gain a permanent place on the Mitchels side was as he told me responsible for his decision to concentrate on his basketball career, and a Kerry football star was lost. So how good would he have been, his great friend and cousin, himself a renowned dual star Derry o Shea summed it up beautifully when he told me.
"Bruddy would without doubt have gone on to become a Kerry mid field star if he stayed with the football. He had everything, magnificent high fielder, two great feet, oozing with class and style and as brave as a lion.  I remember as the Kerry minors trained with the seniors one night Bruddy took two high balls over Mick o Connell from behind without even touching him, can you believe that? Connell turned to me and said who is that fellow? and I says, he is a Kerry minor and will be the next great Kerry midfielder after yourself".
Including basketball and football Bruddy and Seanie won sixteen All Ireland medals between them, a glorious achievement, but we will never know just what Bruddy would have achieved if football had been his first love. It is all irrelevant now of course and while my recollections of him as a sportsman are clear and vivid as we often opposed each other it is not Bruddy the great Kerry and John Mitchels star that I cherish most of all. My fondest memories are of a great friend whom I loved meeting, a wonderful conversationalist, unassuming, gentle, quite spoken and inoffensive, a kind caring person with a great sense of humor. It was a privilege to have known him as a close friend.

To his wife Margaret, ( My lovely sister in law) daughter Paula, sons David and Alan, sisters Marie and Helena and brother Seanie and extended family we extend our deepest sympathies on behalf of all Kerry sports followers.

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