Defeat and despair in the early Fifties and the stars of the Forties bow out.

May 15th, 2014
by Weeshie Fogarty

Chapter which didn't make it for final inclusion in my book - My Beautiful Obsession.

With Kerry still trying to come to terms with the shock defeat to Clare the previous year the same county traveled to Tralee in June 1950 for the opening round of the Munster Championship and a late point gave Kerry a very fortunate reprieve thus escaping the indignity of a second successive defeat by the Banner County. It finished 2-3 to 1-6. Kerry however made no mistake in the re-play in Ennis winning 5-6 to 2-4. Three men from the town of Killarney goaled that day. The o Sullivan brothers of the Killarney Legion, Gerald and Teddy and Dr Crokes Teddy o Connor all raised green flags. The Munster final in July attracted an attendance of 25,000 to the Cork Athletic grounds where they witnessed a thrilling contest. Cork led at the short whistle 1-5 to 0-3 but two great goals within a minute of each other by Dan Kavanagh turned the tables in Kerry's favor who regained the title on the score 2-5 to 1-5.
The first time ever for a semi-final Kerry trained under Dr. Eamonn o Sullivan. Amazingly the committee who selected the team consisted of thirteen selectors representing all districts in the county.   Louth proved the masters in the semi-final 1-7 to 0-8 and probably the deciding moment was a brilliant save by Louth's legendary goalkeeper Sean Thornton when he dived at the feet of Batt Garvey to save when a goal seemed certain. The county was still undergoing transition and some of the heroes of 1946 continued to answer their county's call. Louth had outstanding players that day back in 1950 in Hubert Reynolds, Jack Regan outstanding at mid field, Stephen White, Paddy McArdel, and Sean Boyle. Trailing by a point with minutes to go Kery did have an opportunity to level the game amid high drama as P. F. wrote in the Kerryman the following Thursday. "A free for Kerry thirty five years out from the Louth goal. A point down, there is a huddle between the Kerry players. Teddy o Sullivan is entrusted with the kick. He walks up to the ball in a hush where even the sea gulls wheeling and diving overhead seem to stifle their cries. Teddy's kick falls short and Kerry are out".
 Kerry team: Liam Fitzgerald, Jas Murphy, Paddy "Bawn" Brosnan, Donie Murphy, Mick Finnucan, Jackie Lyne, Teddy o Connor, Jim Brosnan, Eddie Dowling, Teddy o Sullivan (0-1), Mixi Palmer (0-1), Paddy Godley, Dan Kavanagh, Phil McCarthy (0-1). Batt Garvey (0-4) Subs: Paddy Batt Shannahan, Gerald o Sullivan (0-1), Bruddy o Donnell, Tim Healy, Michael o Connor (Rathmore). Others who played in or trained for that campaign, Tom Dowling (goals), Dermot Hannifin, John Joe Sheehan, Paddy Murphy Castlegregory), D. J. McMahon (John Mitchels), Tom Spillane, Tom Long, Sean o Connor (Knocknagoshel), Ger Pierce (John Mitchels). Teddy o Sullivan was top scorer for the year with (2-6).
There was joy for the county however when the minor footballers captured their sixth provincial title in a row and went on to defeat Antrim in the semi-final 2-9 to 0-1 and Wexford in the All Ireland final 3-6 to 1-4. Team : Donal "Marcus o Neill, Mick Galway, M Brosnan, J Collins, T Murphy, P o Donnell, Joe Kerins, Sean Murphy, Paudie Sheehy, Bobby Miller, Colm Kennelly, Con o Riordan, Brendan Galvin, Tom Lawler, P Fitzgerald. Subs: M o Driscoll, B o Sullivan, Kevin Barry, Liam Sheehan, M. A Kerins, J McAuliffe, M Murphy, S Walsh, T Keane, Tony Gaughan.
At the county convention of 1951 the selection committee was reduced from thirteen to ten. The Chairman told the meeting that picking a Kerry team "was like being present at a county council meeting". However this slight change was not to bring All Ireland wining joy to the county as 1951 began. Waterford at home were easily overcome in the opening round of the Munster championship, 5-6 to 1-1. Colm Kennelly played at full forward scoring a goal while Sean o Connor of Castleisland at wing fordward scored two goals. Tom Ash and Frank o Keeffe were the other goal scorers.   Neilly Duggan (Cork) and Paddy "Bawn" were the stars of the Munster final played in Killarney as Kerry retained their title 1-6 to 0-4. A late goal from midfielder Dermot Hannifin who had moved in full forward sealed the victory. Young Paudie Sheehy son of the legendary John Joe who had captained Kerry to All Ireland glory in 1926 an'30 appeared on the scene and made his debut in the second half. His brothers Niall, Brian and Sean Og would also wear the green and gold with great distinction during the following years.
An emerging Mayo team awaited Kerry in the All Ireland semi-final. The star of a side sprinkled with stars was Sean Flanagan. A superb corner back he was one of the finest fielders of the ball to have graced Croke Park and he was the driving force as that Mayo team won two All Ireland titles (195-51) and two league crowns (1949 and '54). However in this 1951 semi-final Mayo were four points down against Kerry as the match entered lost time. Paddy "Bawn" was having a blinder at full back. Tom Langan was switched in on him. >From a Kerry kick out Eamon Mongey out fielded John Joe Sheehan, centered the ball and Langan lurking on the verge of the square flicked the ball to the net while well off the ground. Paddy Irwin pointed for Mayo from far out and the full time whistle went immediately after this. Mayo had snatched a draw (1-5 all). Pat Godley found the net for Kerry. 
Jas Murphy lined out at corner back that day and when I spoke to him many years later he was under no illusion as to what transpired in those closing minutes. "We sat back on our lead, our preparations were very poor for the game and they finished very strong. I still regret that day and I firmly believe with our Croke Park record in All Ireland finals we would have beaten Meath in the final". Then he remarked on the teams preparations. "Kerry teams were very badly prepared for big games around that period and I clearly remember that the duels between Jackie Lyne and Padraig Carney were the high light of those two matches". Sean Murphy arrived on the big stage that day and the Doctor from Camp in West Kerry would go on to become one of the all time greats of Gaelic football. Three weeks later the sides returned to Croke Park to settle their differences and before a crowd of 53,345 two goals from Mayo corner forward Mick Flanagan saw the Connacht champions advance to the final 2-4 to 1-5. Kerry fought to the bitter end. Bruddy o Donnell set up Eddie Dowling and the Ballydonoghue man blasted the ball to the net. However time ran out and the Kingdom had lost a semi-final re-play for the first time in thirty two years.
Kerry; Liam Fitzgerald, Jas Murphy, Paddy "Bawn" Brosnan, Donie Murphy, Sean Murphy, Jackie Lyne, Mixi Palmer, John Joe Sheehan, Dermot Hannifin, Paddy Godley, Eddie Dowling (1-1), Jim Brosnan, Tom Ash (0-1), Gerald o Sullivan (0-1), Paudie Sheehy. Subs: Sean o Connor (played in the drawn game), Teddy o Connor (on), John Dowling (on), Tim Healy (on), Dermot Lawler (St. Brendan's), Bruddy o Donnell (0-2), Mick Finnucan, Frank o Keeffe. Gearoid Byrne (Geraldine's Dublin).
It was the last Croke Park appearance for a number of the legendary Kerry players who had served their county with great distinction. Paddy "Bawn" had played for Kerry from 1938 to 1952 scoring 2-6 in 40 appearances while Frank o Keeffe, Gus Cremin, Eddie Dowling, Teddy o Connor and Bruddy o Donnell all bid farewell to the stadium they had graced since the early forties. 
In June of '51 the Kerry minor hurlers were beaten in the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick in the Munster Championship by the home side, 1-7 to 2-0. This game marked the arrival on the inter county scene of a fourteen year old youngster named Johnny Culloty. He gave a brilliant performance between the posts and one wrote of him. "The game was best remembered for the superb display of Kerry's diminutive young goalkeeper Culloty who saved his side from a heavy defeat. After the final whistle Limericks legendary hurler Mick Mackey approached the youngster and shook his hand in appreciation of his brilliant display of goalkeeping". Culloty would go on and win five senior All Ireland football medals with Kerry and serve his club and county in various capacities during the following sixty years. John Dowling and Tadghie Lyne both of whom would go on to play a huge part in Kerry's football story also made their Kerry debuts. The Kerry minor footballers just like the seniors drew in the All Ireland semi-final with Armagh but lost the re-play 2-3 to 0-7.
That Kerry minor hurling side of 1951; Johnny Culloty, Denis Hegarty, James McCarthy, Liam Murphy, John Carroll, Derry Kennelly, Pat Joe Brosnan, Kevin barry, J. J. o Sullivan, Michael Looney, Raymond Vaughan, Paddy o Shea, Brendan Bourke, Eddie Barry, Willie o Leary. Subs: Pat Hennessey, Paul o Mahoney, J. J. Brosnan, Liam Brosnan, Mick Fleming, Eddie Murphy, Patrick o Donoghue.
There was to be further heart break for the suffering Kerry supporters the following year 1952. An unconvincing 0-14 to 1-7 win over Waterford did nothing to dispel the fears of another barren season ahead. The Munster final played in the Cork Athletic Grounds was a disaster for the Kerry side now showing lots of changes as the old guard bowed out. Cork won 1-11 to 0-2 as Kerry scored just one point in each half. Only for goalkeeper Marcus o Neill and Paddy "Bawn" Brosnan playing his final championship match for his county the score against would have been much greater. The winners had stars in Denis Bernard, Eamon Young, Donie Donovan, "Toots" Kelleher, and Paddy o Driscoll whose son Padraig would later emerge as one of the world's great golfers winning the British Open Championship in
Kerry: Donal "Marcus" o Neill, Jas Murphy, Paddy "Bawn" Brosnan, Gerald o Sullivan, Sean Murphy, Jackie Lyne, Mixi Palmer, Dermot Hannifin, Brendan o Shea, Paudie Sheehy, John Joe Sheehan, Tadghie Lyne, Jim Brosnan, Sean Kelly, Tom Ash.
Subs: Teddy o Connor, Colm Kennelly, Eddie Dowling, Brendan Galvin, Paddy Godly, J Spillane, Jerome o Shea, Paddy Murphy (Geraldine's), Tim Healy, John O Connor, Bobby Miller.
Jackie Lyne was now the only remaining playing link with the sides of 1946 and the defeated New York Polo Grounds men. The names of Teddy o Connor, Eddie Dowling, and Tim Healy had appeared on the match programme for the very last time.
The big surprise of the year was the defeat of the Kerry minor footballers in Tralee by Clare 3-4 to 2-5 while the Junior footballers were defeated in a re-play by Tipperary in the Munster final 0-8 to 0-6.

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