The day two Kerrymen played against each other in goals in an All Ireland Final in Croke Park

March 1st, 2013
by Weeshie Fogarty

Little did I imagine as I stood on the grassy embankment of the old Cork Athletic ground for the 1967 Munster final between the legendary rivals Cork and Kerry that dramatic events late in the second half would be directly responsible for me winning a precious and coveted Junior All Ireland medal with my beloved Kingdom.

This era of the middle sixties coincided with the retirement of some of the greatest players the game has ever seen. Johnny Culloty, Mick o Dwyer, Mick o Connell and Seamus Murphy had all departed the scene; they were however still playing club and county championship football and it had proved impossible to fill their Kerry boots.

Being on the goalkeeping circuit myself during that period I have vivid memories of the merry-go–round of goalkeepers being tried out in an effort to replace Culloty. Peter Hanley, (Kenmare), Josie o Brien, (Kerins o Rahillys), Seamus Fitzgerald, (An Gaeltacht), Eamon o Donoghue, RIP. (Ballylongford), and Teddy Bowler, (Glenbeigh/Glenbeigh), were all tested between the sticks at one time or another.

Indeed things were in such disarray during these black years for Kerry football that the selectors at the time were chopping and changing to such an extent that Teddy Bowler was in goal for the 1966 Munster final and the following year he was full back. One of the great fielders of the ball Teddy was an outstanding defender.

Then in 1967 the late great Eamon o Donoghue a forward of great poise and a gentleman of the highest caliber was selected in goal for the Munster final and what drama we witnessed that day as lashing rain swept across the old Cork Athletic grounds and turned the field into a quagmire. Two minutes remaining, Kerry trailing by a point. They are awarded a free some twenty five yards from the posts and very close to the side line. We then saw one of the most bizarre substitutions ever witnessed in a Munster football final. The Kerry selectors in sheer desperation decided to bring Eamon o Donoghue out from goal to corner forward to kick the free which would decide The Kingdom's fate. John "Thorny" o Shea was called ashore and they replaced Eamon in goals by Josie o Brien.

Now with a dry ball that vital free would not have offered much of a problem for Eamon but "the lump of soap" which was handed to him was a completely different kettle of fish even for a sweet free kicker like Eamon. And lets not forget that it was the old pig skin football which would become as heavy as lead when it soaked in the water. The suspense was killing as the Ballylongford man moved up to take the kick and although he had the height and distance the ball curled wide at the far post and Kerry had failed by a matter of mere inches to snatch a draw. Cork were victorious, 0-8 to 0-7 but lost the final to Meath 1-9 to 0-9.

Josie o Brien had helped Kerry reach the Munster junior final when he was added as substitute goalkeeper for that senior final, however as soon as he handed his name to the referee in Cork that day he was immediately barred from continuing as Kerrys junior keeper.

It's an ill wind that fails to bring luck to some one. And in this situation I was the lucky person. I was playing soundly for East Kery in the county championship, the selectors were impressed and I got the call up for the Munster final to replace the unlucky Josie o Brien.

We defeated Cork in Kenmare, 2-7 to 0-9, proved too good for Kildare and Mayo and in the final played in London were easy winners over the home side, 0-9 to 0-4. Due to a strange quirk of fate I had achieved one of my great boyhood ambitions and helped Kerry win an All Ireland. It might have been "only" a junior medal but for me, and I considered myself a fairly limited player it was very special. Team mates that day included Mick Gleeson, Derry Crowley, Brendan Lynch P J McIntyre, Paudie Finnegan, Gerry McCarthy, and Billy Doran. Kerryman Harry Sheehan, an outstanding player from South Kerry was corner forward for the opposition.

We danced in the Galtymore ballroom in Cricklewood that night, the place was packed, Brendan Bowyer that great entertainer from Waterford and his group The Royal Showband was, back then a massive draw.  We were introduced to the crowd during the course of the evening and I was amazed at the number of emigrant friend's whom I met that night. Their sadness very evident at having to take the emigrant boat has remained one of my memories of the wonderful weekend.

Teddy Bowler at full back was Kerry's man of the match in that 1967 Munster final. Josie o Brien was also on the Kerry under 21 team and they lost to Mayo in the final following a re-play. So he played in goal that year for all three Kerry sides. Senior, Junior, Under 21. A great record.

That 1967 Munster final team;      Eamon o Donoghue, (Ballydonoghue), Paud o Donoghue, (do), Teddy Bowler (Glenbeigh), Seanie Burrows (John Mitchell's), Denis o Sullivan (Kerins o Rahillys), Mick Morris (John Mitchell's), Seamus Fitzgerald (Ventry), Mick Fleming (Cordal), Pat Griffin (Glenbeigh), John Saunders (Rathmore), Jer Do Connor (Ballydonoghue), Tim Sheehan (Kilcummin), Tom Prendergast (Keel), D J Crowley (Rathmore), John "Thorny" o Shea, (John Mitchell's).

Subs Tim Kelleher, Tony Barrett (on), Pat Aherne, Gerry McCarthy, Declan Lovett. Josie o Brien

Donie o Sullivan had been picked at corner back but cried off during the week.

Selectors   Mick o Dwyer, Paddy "Bawn" Brosnan, Murt Kelly, Fr Curtin, Donie Sheehan and Dr Jim Brosnan was the trainer.

John Joe Sheehy and Johnny Walsh had been selectors the previous year 1966 but retired for 1967

It was the first time ever that Tralee did not have a senior selector.

Two years later in 1969 I was back in goal, on the Junior team helping Kerry win the Munster championship, we beat Derry in the semi final but earned the unwanted distinction of been defeated by Wicklow in the Home final in Croke Park, 0-12 to 1-8. The late Moss Keane who later went on to become a legendary Irish International rugby star was full back that day. Wicklow went on to suffer defeat at the hands of London in the final.

Then in 2010 a phone call certainly rolled back the years for me and brought a legion of memories long since forgotten flooding to the surface.  The caller introduced himself. "Pat Cronin from Wicklow here Weeshie, you probably will not remember me but we played against each other forty one long years ago in 1969". Immediately Pat mentioned the year 1969 and the county Wicklow I knew exactly who I was speaking to. We chatted briefly and a few hours later I met with him and his lovely wife Margaret at their Killarney hotel where they were holidaying. It was that All Ireland Junior Home final the day Wicklow shocked the Kingdom coming out on top 0-11 to 1-8. Pat Cronin guarded the Wicklow net that day and I was in the Kerry goal. The only time in history to my knowledge that two Kerrymen opposed each other as goalkeepers in an All Ireland Final.

The Cronin family left Kerry and settled in Wicklow in the fifties. They were from Duagh. Pat now living in Stratford has an amazing record. In that year of 1969 he played minor, under twenty one, junior and senior football in goal for Wicklow. And he did like wise in hurling playing in goal in all grades for his adopted county. He informed me how the late Tadge Crowley county secretary at the time contacted Pat asking him to declare for Kerry in the early seventies and assured him that the goal keeping position would be his.

However the genial Stratford man declined the offer as it would require him travelling from Wicklow on a constant basis and uprooting his family connections in Wicklow. It is believed that Pat holds a record number of Wicklow intermediate and junior football and hurling championships medals. And it was he who persuaded All Ireland medal winner with Kerry 1969-70, Mick Gleeson back in the seventies to train his club helping them win the Wicklow county championship. Mick was teaching in Dublin at the time.

Not alone has Pat been a successful trainer of his club sides but he has also made a huge name for himself as successful handler and trainee of greyhounds. His kennels and gallops are on his own farm at Randallstown and turns out many winners on a constant basis.  Both his sons, Patrick and Diarmuid are class footballers. His daughter Hillary is the club juvenile secretary while wife Margaret is also a long term officer of the club and is present PRO. It was a special reunion and confirmed for me, if that is necessary, that one of the great strengths of the GAA is the friends you make for life over the years. Kerry's loss of this great dual player was certainly Wicklow's gain. It was a great pleasure to renew old acquaintances. The old adage "old friend's are best" were never more apt than in this story.

That Kerry Junior side who became the first team from the Kingdom to lose a championship match to Wicklow 0-12 to 1-8, is worth recalling for the record.

Weeshie Fogarty (Killarney Legion), Gerry McCarthy (Gneeveguilla), Moss Keane (Currow), Jim Coughlan (Beaufort), John o Keeffe (Austin Stacks), Tom Doyle (Laune Rangers) (0-1), Tom McGill (Clanna  Gael Dublin), Mick Aherne (Currow), Donal Kavanagh (Dr Crokes), Paudie Lynch (Beaufort(0-1) Christy o Sullivan (Finuge), Derry o Shea (John Mitchels (0-1), Tony Barrett An Gaeltaght), P J Burns (Sneem), Paudie Finnegan (Kenmare (0-4), Subs: Noel Power (Kenmare), Sally Long (Dingle), Gerry o Mahoney (Renard), Johnny Guerin (Listowel), Michael Slattery (Dingle), Colm o Callaghan ( North Kerry (0-1).

The sixties proved to be a very successful year in my sporting life. I was playing outfield for my club and in 1962 when the first ever Kerry under 21 was picked to play Clare in Kilrush I was chosen at centre forward. My younger brother Geni was also on the panel that day so it was very special for the family. We had received a walk over from Limerick in the opening round and our trip to Clare was successful as we won 1-6 to 0-8. My one abiding memory of the day occurred with ten minutes to go. I was running out of steam and the selectors called me ashore. One of those selectors was the late great Kerry footballer Murt Kelly a Beaufort man, called me aside and questioned me, "do you smoke young fellow"," yes Mr. Kelly". I replied. He was quick to reprimand me in his lovely quiet way advising me that if I wanted to become a Kerry footballer I should give up the fags. I never smoked after that during my playing days.

I have vivid memories of Murt, impeccably dressed; wearing a hat, always smoking a pipe and the smell of that beautiful tobacco aroma which wafted around the dressing rooms is still with me. John Joe Sheehy, Paddy Bawn Brosnan and Jackie Lyne were also selectors that day. All legends in the history of the game. It was daunting I can tell you having the eyes of these men all laden down with All ireland medals watching your every move. However it is situations such as this which I believe inspires and greatly encourages all young Kerry footballers to go on and attempt to reach the heights of others.

The final of that competition was played in Kenmare in December 1962 and following a cracking game we became the holders of the very first Munster under 21 Championship defeating old rivals Cork 2-7 to 1-4. I lined out at wing forward surrounded by five Tralee town men. Seamus Roche, Derry o Shea, Dom o Donnell, Bruddy o Donnell (RIP), and John "Thorny" o Shea (RIP). Fifty years later to commemorate that occasion the Munster council brought the two teams together in Pairc Ui Chaoimh. It was a very poignant and special occasion as many of us had not met since that day long ago in Kenmare. It was also great to meet the Cork lads many of whom had gone on to represent their county at senior level in both hurling and football.

Living in the town of Killarney my club Killarney Legion played under the auspices of the East Kerry board. In 1961 the fourteen clubs of that division came together to play as one team in the Kerry county championship. It was the beginning of a magnificent decade in our football lives. We went on to contest six Kerry senior county finals winning four. We also won three Munster club championships and one All Ireland in 1970. In the 1965 final we defeated Mid Kerry following a re-play and I became the proud holder of my first county senior medal.

That final was notable as it singled the arrival on the county scent of Rathmore's Din Joe Crowley. He was just a substitute in the drawn game but was drafted in for the re-play and turned in a stormer. Tremendously strong and always superbly fit Di Joe was drafted into the Kerry senior panel and helped his county win two All Ireland titles in 1969-1970. His magnificent goal against Meath in the '70 final I regard as one of the greatest I have ever seen. Years later in an interview for my Radio Kerry programme Terrace Talk with the former Garda he described that superb goal.

"It all began with a kick out from the late Paud o Donoghue, John o Keeffe fielded at mid field, I was running alongside him and took the pass and set off from the middle of the field on a solo run. I used to practice this kick of pulling the ball back to my foot; Mick o Connell always did this. I was soloing with my left leg and pulled the ball back to my right foot, I screwed the kick around the full back and it went into the left corner of the net. It worked like a dream that day, I had often practiced it in training but it was never successful for me before or since". Mick Gleeson also scored a goal against Meath that day.

Our two county final losses occurred in 1964 and 1966. That first year's loss against Shannon Rangers Johnny Culloty who played all his Kerry championship football out field kicked a penalty wide late in the second half, Teddy o Sullivan scored the Rangers goal and the late Dam McAuliffe was outstanding in the North Kerry sides win. Two years later John Mitchels that legendary Tralee club defeated us and it took a superb goal fro Niall Sheehy to clinch what was to prove their last victory in Kerry. A few years before that they had completed an unbelievable five in a championships wins. An achievement I believe will never be repeated.

East Kerry were back in 1968-69-70 to complete a hat trick of wins and I had the great honour of captaining the side in 1968. My club had won the East Kerry championship the previous year and Johnny Culloty my team mate very kindly stepped aside to offer me the captaincy. The game was an unforgettable experience for me. Leading the parade around Austin Stack Park behind Gil Brien's band and following behind me great men like Tom Long, Din Joe Crowley, Derry Crowley, Donie o Sullivan, Mick Gleeson, Johnny Culloty. All these men either had won or would go on to win senior All ireland medals with Kerry. John Saunders, Larry Kelly, Pat Moynihan, Gerry McCarthy, Tim Sheehan, Ger o Donoghue and Florry Mahony

The  team on that special day who had an easy win over Waterville helped by four Tom Long goals had in the starting team fourteen men who had worn the green and gold at either minor, junior, under 21 or senior for Kerry. The odd man out was corner forward Mickey Lyne. A small hardy farmer from Muckross just outside Killarney and a player with my own club Mickey was made of bell iron and while not up to county standard he played every minute of those six county finals scoring and setting up many goals in our victories. Killarney chemist Donie Sheehan was an inspirational if old fashioned trainer and always inspired us with his dressing room talks. Waterville with Mick o Dwyer training and playing were unfortunate to meet us in each of those three finals. If they had met a club side I remain convinced that little South Kerry village holiday home to film star Charlie Chaplin would have won at least one Kerry senior title.

Dwyer was one of the greatest men I have ever seen on a football field.  In one of those finals I had a close up view from goal of Mick o Connell who lined out at full forward but even his regal presence failed to inspire his side to victory.  Years later in 1997-98-99 East Kerry inspired by the magnificent wonderful Seamus Moynihan again completed another three in row victories. Seamus played his last county championship game with East Kery in their loss to Mid Kerry in the county semi final of 2011. Those teams and indeed all successful divisional Kerry teams have contributed greatly to the Kerry multitude of All Ireland wins in ALL grades. Amalgamations such as this give the ordinary club player with potential a wonderful opportunity to go on and greatly improve his potential and I will forever remain convinced that this has been one of the majour reasons why Kerry have been and remain so successful.

While I myself through sheer hard work, I was never blessed with great skill, was fortunate to wear the Kerry jersey in all grades only for the opportunity I got with East Kerry, mixing, training, playing with and against great players I would never have achieved the limited success I had.    

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