What a shame it would be to lose the Munster Final

July 16th, 2013
by Weeshie Fogarty

While the Kerry seniors victory in the Munster final last Sunday week was greeted with a huge sigh of relief by Kerry supporters every where it has nonetheless been generally acknowledged that it was much too close for comfort. Indeed at the conclusion only for Brendan Kealy's brilliant injury time save Cork would have secured the draw and the pubs, hotels, Bed and Breakfast, and eating houses of Killarney would have been dancing around the garden in anticipation of yet another big pay day for Ireland's tidiest town. 

It was one of the most memorable Kerry/Cork weekends I have ever witnessed and let me add I have seen in the region of twenty eight championship clashes between the old rivals in Killarney alone since I first stood on the old grass terrace in 1955. Every time the men across the border ride into town it is something special and it would be a very brave person undeniably who would even suggest that the provincial championships be got rid of. And let me add there has been mutterings behind closed council doors that this should happen.  No doubt it would be a case of "Munster says no" if this was even remotely suggested.  This year far surpassed anything I have ever experienced in Beauties Home. And it was not just the game itself that added to the occasion, it was much more than that. The Radio Kerry Ring of Kerry charity cycle  began and finished in the town on the day preceding the final and  when the great Denis Geaney began this amazing event 30 years ago never in his wildest dreams could he have visualized that it would grow in to the monster event it is today. Close to nine thousand participants took part, add on the family's and relations that came with them not forgetting boyfriends and girl friends and it swells the influx of visitors to well over ten thousand.

We were about to experience two wonderful events the likes of which we will rarely experience. And remember this most of all; both were organized under the auspices of two amateur bodies. The town was a kaleidoscope of magnificent colors as the cyclists peddled around the streets following their grueling cycle, and all in the name of charity. The New St. car park specially set aside was the venue for massive open air celebrations. The atmosphere down there was simply electric. I met hundreds of participants both inside and outside the Killarney bars downing badly needed pints of all sorts of refreshing liquids as a terrible thirst worked up following the cycle was well and truly satisfied. The Killarney Chamber of Commerce led by the highly proficient chairman Johnny Maguire had the streets festooned with the flags of the thirty two counties and more besides. And then there was the weather. Its official, as the Bing Crosby song told us "we're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave". It added greatly to the carnival atmosphere which prevailed through the town, and then the football fans began to arrive from Friday onward. They came in their thousands, from north, south, east and west as every bed for miles around was booked, I met people from all corners of the country seeking accommodation.  Intrepid followers of our national games drawn to this iconic Munster final hoping to see The Kingdom and the Rebel County serve up something special.

And what a day for Kerry supporters as they witnessed a Kerry minor/senior double in Killarney on the same day for the first time since 2003 and only the second occasion since away back in 1975. Yes indeed only one double had been achieved up to Sunday week last in Killarney since 1975, but of course we had as my great friend GAA historian Tim "Tiger" Slattery informed me seen the double achieved since '75 in Limerick, Cork and Thurles. But back to '75 and never in their wildest dreams did Mickey Ned o Sulivan and Johnno Keeffe visualize as they left the Fitzgerald Stadium that memorable day thirty eight long years ago after starring in Kerry s senior win over Cork that they would be training Kerry to Munster minor glory in 2013.

I can still see in the minds eye as if only yesterday Mickey Ned haring up the field towards the score board goal in one of his dazzling solo runs as he left a series of Cork defenders trailing helplessly in his wake to pop the ball over Billy Morgan's cross bar. And then Johnno, the greatest Kerry full back I have ever seen turning in a magnificent performance. Classy, stylish, big and strong, with, as they say a great pair of hands, and a superb fielder of the ball. In my recently published book of memories he was my automatic choice for the full back berth in my best ever Kerry fifteen since 1955. Two gentlemen of Kerry football. And they picked a good man in Peter Keane to join them on the side line. Son of the late exemplary Tom, his mother Nula is one of the greatest Kerry lady followers; Peter guided his beloved St Mary's Caherceiveen to All Ireland honors recently. Three good men and true wisely selected to guide, coach, train, educate and tutor the young men of Kerry football handed on by the clubs of the county as they dream of going on to play with Eamon Fitzmaurice senior side. 

Mickey Ned and Johnno have a wealth of managerial experience having trained not alone the Kerry seniors but other counties as well.  Now they might not succeed in winning the All Ireland but one thing is absolutely certain, their strictly held views that Kerry footballers should have certain qualities. Those would be, skill, flair, style, fitness a never-say-die attitude and an outlook, the mind-set of winning games in the Kerry way. But most of all these three men responsible for the football education of our youth will I am utterly convinced leave an indelible mark not alone on their football futures but even far more significantly on aspects of life in general. If this lovely minor side go on in the world and bring with them some of the other exemplary life qualities displayed by the men in charge then their parents will be even more thankful. Life is not just all about playing with Kerry you know. Not by a long shot.     

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