The Kingdom just dont have any luck at the Hill

September 10th, 2013
by Weeshie Fogarty

What is it with Kerry and the Railway End goal in front of Hill 16 in Croke Park? You may well ask what in the name of heavens he is on about. Well I have a theory floating around in my head for a long time which continues to aggravate and irritate in relation to strange happenings at this particular goal and only where Kerry are involved and always during vital times throughout the course of big championship games.  I have constantly ignored this and consigned it to the back of my mind but last Sundays weeks happenings against Dublin only confirmed my suspicions in the strongest possible way. I firmly believe there is some sort on an Indian sign or an old footballers curse floating around the square in front of Hill 16. So lets first look at some of the events that have greatly affected the fortunes or should I say misfortunes of Kerry teams around this goal down the years. Then judge for yourself. Fact or fiction, imagination or reality?  Or maybe sheer coincidence.

A dramatic incident last Sunday week revived long lost memories in relation to two goals and indeed evoked comparisons and associations with two of my own Killarney Legion club men and both incidents are separated by forty five long years. Now you may well recall mid way through the first half last Sunday week against Dublin in that magnificent match in another one of Kerry's brilliant attacking moves James o Donoghue shot high for a point at that aforementioned Railway goal. The ball hit the very highest point of the left hand post, fell back in the square, Donnacha Walsh gained possession, was fouled, James o Donoghue duly cracked the penalty past Stephen Cluxton.  Now not everyone will be able to recall but if you can, cast your mind back to September 22nd 1968, Kerry and Down contesting the final. I am seated high up in the old Hogan Stand, I won my ticket in a club draw and I am seated with a great club mate and founder member Mickey o Leary RIP. His brother Timmy had won three minor All Ireland medals with Kerry and two senior medals. We were seven minutes into the game, a high attempt for a point from Downs's corner forward John Purdy hit the very top of the left sided post and fell back down into the small square, (no large square back then). Sean o Neill one of the greatest and gifted forwards of all time was perfectly positioned to connect beautifully with the falling leather, he did not catch it, but with his right boot finished the ball to the Kerry net, Johnny Culloty had no chance. Ten minutes gone Down were ahead 2-3 to 0-1. They eventually won by a two point margin.

Go back even further if you can to 1960. Down bidding to win their first All Ireland. Kerry defending THAT goal in the second half. I am sitting in the old corner stand directly behind the action. Eleven minutes gone, Down have just forced three fifties in a row, then a speculative lob from the powerful James McCartan completely deceived Johnny Culloty in the Kingdom goal, up went the green flag. Minutes later Paddy Doherty blasted home a penalty, Down won, 2-10 to 0-8. Now we fast forward to that superb All Ireland semi-final of 1977, Kerry/Dublin. Six minutes to go in this enthralling encounter Kerry two points ahead. I am now seated high up on the old Cusack stand with the perfect view as the concluding stage of this drama unfolds below me. The great Spa goalkeeper Paudie o Mahoney is manning that Railway End goal. Then it happens. Anton o Tool shoots for goal. Ogie Moran seems to have the danger covered, but John o Keeffe flung himself at the ball which now breaks to Tony Hanahoe who passes to David Hickey and he blasts to the net. Minutes later Bernard Brogan adds another goal and Hanahoe points. Kerry loses 3-12 to 1-13. Astonishingly similarly last minute happing's to that recent game.

And who will forget the greatest Railway End heartbreak of all. The goal that has gone into GAA folklore. Its September 1982, I am sitting in the Hogan Stand, my young son Kieran is on my lap. Ninety seconds to go, Kerry leading Offally by two points. Liam o Connor the Offally full back comes up field, lobs a high ball towards the Kerry goal. Seamus Darby has just come on the field; the slight nudge to Tommy Doyle's back, Darby fields, turns and blasts the ball to the roof of Charlie Nelligan net. It's the only kick of the ball he gets. Offally win, 1-15, Kerry 0-17. The All Ireland quarter final, 2010. Down are once again Kerrys opponents. Just 23 minutes into the game Kerry are attacking THAT goal, Colm Cooper and Donnacha Walsh combine superbly to send Killian Young in to blast the ball past Brendan McVeigh. Referee Joe McQuillan disallows the goal for an illegal hand past. Shocking decision, the Kerry players and sideline men are incensed. Kerry loses 1-16 to 1-10.

The list of misfortune at this Hill 16 goal goes on and on. Little need to delve into too much detail about the heartbreak of 2011 when it looked as if the game was done and dusted and then came that late late Paul Kevin McManamon goal which shattered the hopes of a 37th title. The following year 2012 Kerry face Donegal in the quarter final. Seven minutes gone, goal for Donegal! Colm McFadden arrows in a sideline ball from the Cusack Stand side and as Michael Murphy rises to challenge for it with Aidan O'Mahony, the ball appears to miss both and travel past Brendan Kealy in the Kerry goal before going into the net via the crossbar. Once again bizarre and weird happenings in front of the Hill. This goal decides the game. Kerry loses 1-12 to 1-10. And then last Sunday week, injury time, Kevin McManamon goes for a point, the ball dips, goal, as if pulled down into the Kerry net by some unseen hand. The Hill goes crazy. Eoghan o Gara's bullet of a shot goes in off the underside of the cross bar   Kerry lose, 3-18, to 3-11. The Kerry curse under Hill 16.  Fact or fiction. Imagination simply running away with me, or reality? You decide for yourself.  Oh by the way I forget to mention Peter Caravan's injury time goal which beat Kerry in the 2005 final; and yes it was at THAT goal?

Radio Kerry - The Voice of the Kingdom