Weeshie's Week

My New Book - The Heart and Soul of Kerry Football

June 24th, 2016
by Weeshie Fogarty

Over two years of patient work is finally drawing to a conclusion as the final touches are corrections to be more precise are being put to a new publication on Kerry football which I have been working on for over two years. Entitled, The Heart and Soul of Kerry Football this work records and examines many of the victories, defeats and controversies that I have witnessed since I first became obsessed with Kerry football in the fifties. The story behind the shock defeat by Waterford in 1957, the low times, the domination of Down and Galway over Kerry in the sixties and how Kerry football style had to change as Dr Eamon op Sullivan's training methods became obsolete. .

The Golden Years under Mick o Dwyer as Bomber Liston, Ger o Keeffe and Mickey Ned o Sullivan bring us behind his training methods.  Kerry's greatest opponents, Dublin, Cork, Tyrone are featured, Kerry Captains, The Agony and the Ecstasy,  my interviews with John Egan, Tim Kennelly, Paudie o Se, Jas Murphy, Sean Og Sheehy,  Darren o Sullivan, Joe Barrett and Con Brosnan, and of course Mick o Connell.

The publishers insisted that I write about three great Kerry GAA women who have influenced Kerry football affairs and also trace the birth of Kerry Lady's football, this I did through the memories of retired Garda Mick Fitzgerald the man who began it all. The first county board was formed on August 8th 1974.  You will read about the exceptional Kerry supporters, and the influence of training behind closed doors. I laboured, thought long and hard as I was asked to choose not my best ever Kerry fifteen but my most stylish, classy, skilful Kerry fifteen.  Memorials to Kerry footballers in the county are examined and I trace the Kerry player's strikes of 1960 and 1910.

 My position as presenter, analysist and interviewer with Radio Kerry for close to twenty years now has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to record hundreds of interviews and open up doors to people and places which would not otherwise have been possible.

The idea for this publication was born in Cork, October 2014, in beautiful Innishannon to be precise. The wonderful Alice Taylor, author extraordinaire, a great friend had asked me to speak at the launch of her latest book, Do You Remember. This took place at the Private Collectors Gallery in the village and chatting afterwards to the genial Michael o Brien of The o Brien press the discussion, as what generally usually occurs in my experience turned to Kerry football and its greatness, its secret and its people.

To make the long story short as they say before the evening drew to a close Michael had persuaded me to consider writing about some of my experiences in relation to Kerry football, and its people. And very simply the idea for The Heart and Soul of Kerry football was conceived.   

Of course it's utterly impossible to capture the true soul of Kerry football in print, that is something beyond human capacity, but this is my honest endeavour to portray a snapshot in time from 1955 to the present day of some of my experiences, events, memories, good and bad, and the amazing players, officials and supporters who contribute to The Heart and Soul of Kerry Football.

Distance lends enchantment to the view they say and peering back through the mists of time through rosy spectacles of a boy my views of players and games back in the fifties and sixties especially may have appeared better than they really were but this for me is one of the secrets of Kerry football.  But thankfully the youthful memories and impressions remain, fresh and vibrant, warming the heart, touching the very soul.

So this publication is just a mere snapshot in time of the never ending Kerry story and the end is not yet. At some future date a far more competent hand that mine may add more chapters and further chronicle the achievements of Kerry footballers, men and women.  The story to the present day is a fascinating one and as I have observed myself in my travels has brought great joy to thousands of Kerry exiles particularly in America.

So what form will they take, those further chapters in Kerry's football story, the material will as in the past be supplied by the present generation of brilliant young footballers or those yet unborn. And as in the events of the past they will find great inspiration, ample incentive to follow in the footsteps of those legendary men who have gone before.  What other county can boast of such glorious tradition? Kerry must never forget- If you forget your past you have no present and if you have no present how can you have a future?

My sincere thanks to Michael o Brien and his amazingly helpful and patient team at The o Brien Press. They all in their own hugely professionally way helped me, encouraged me and challenged me along the way towards that final chapter. To Ide Ni Laoghaire, Emma Byrne, Nicola Reddy and Brendan o Brien my sincere thanks for your wonderful courtesy and expertise as I struggled to complete the task. Failure was never an option with you beside me. 

In my travels around Kerry and Ireland and beyond pursuing my Radio Kerry duties I have always been in awe and in huge admiration for the work of our amazingly talented and professional photographers.  I am so fortunate to have befriended them all.  They are a remarkable group of Kerry men and women and their work has been recognised and honoured not alone in Ireland but beyond.

Shortly before his death on May 21st 2011, aged 82 I spend an unforgettable afternoon at his West Kerry home with the late great founder of Kerry's Eye, photojournalist the exemplary Padraig Kennelly, one of my all-time favourite people. During the course of a lengthy interview for my Radio Kerry In Conversation program I asked him why we were blessed in Kerry with such highly talented photographers who excel in sports and life photography? His answer has remained etched in my memory as if we had only spoken yesterday,

"I have no doubt Weeshie but that we are hugely influenced by the sheer beauty of our county, its towering mountains, its lake and valleys, the mighty Atlantic pounding at our door steps, its flower and fauna, its poets, artists and authors,   and of course its brilliant sportsmen and women and in particular its footballers who have been part and parcel of the lives of particularly ever family in Kerry since 1884, football and its heroes has shaped the way we approach our work".

And so I feel greatly privileged and indeed humbled to include in this publication the work of fourteen of Kerry's gifted photographers. When asked, each without one moment's hesitation offered what they considered one of their favourite Kerry football photographs. They have helped greatly in my attempt to capture The Heart and Souls of Kerry football. It's a priceless collection within one publication

My sincere thanks to Valerie o Sullivan, Michelle Cooper Galvin renowned Kerryman photographer, Don MacMonagle, Eamon Keogh, Mike Brosnan, Domnick Walsh, Julien Behal, Christy Riordan, Kevin Coleman, Kerry Kennelly, Stephen McCarthy, Brendan Landy, John Reidy and Bryan o Brien. Thanks too to the legendary GAA photographer Ray McManus and his Sportsfile team for providing photographs.

Billy Keane has written the introduction for The Heart and Soul of Kerry Football, Kerry legend Jack o Shea who strides across the cover of the book as only he can will launch the publication in September. Its just an honest effort to record history and acknowledge those who are forgotten in many ways.  

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