Memories of the 1954 Championship

June 10th, 2014
by Weeshie Fogarty

As Kerry prepares to begin their 2014 championship voyage hoping to reclaim the Sam Maguire it surly is an opportune time to remind ourselves of what occurred for three Kerry teams sixty long years ago.  And indeed that year of 1954 would prove to be a remarkable season in the history of The Kingdom for many reasons. The previous year Jas Murphy had led Kerry to that memorable Jubilee Final win over Armagh. The exemplary Kerins o Rahillys Garda made just one more appearance in the green and gold against Waterford and was then dropped  After sixteen championships appearance for his county from 1949-1954 Jas our winning captain was completely ignored. This was one of the most disgraceful decisions in my opinion ever taken by a group of Kerry selectors and to this day Jas now resident in Cork is still deeply hurt at the manner in which he was treated.

Collective training was in vogue up until 1953 and it allowed counties to bring their players together for two weeks before finals and accommodate them in a local hotel. The Park Place Hotel, St Brendan's College and Scotts Hotel all in Killarney and the Imperial Hotel in Tralee and Ballybunion were all favorite places of accommodation for Kerry teams of the time. Then at congress on April 18th 1954 despite huge protestations from the Kerry delegation and on a show of hands full time training was banned on a vote of 95-56. The Kerry delegates were John Joe Sheehy, Jack McCarthy, Michael o Ruairc, Paddy Drummond, Dan Ryan and Liam Guerin. It would have disastrous consequences for Kerry later that year.

Waterford playing at home were easily defeated in the first round, 3-10 to 1-2. Two goals from Bobby Buckley and one from Tadghie Lyne set Kerry on their winning way. An untrained Kerry side beat Cork in the Munster final in Cork 4-9 to 2-3. Jim Brosnan, (2), Jackie Lyne and Sean Kelly were the goal scorers. The players trained on their own for the semi-final against Galway and again goals from Tadghie Lyne and Paudie Sheehy saw the Kingdom through to meet Meath in the final on a score of 2-6 to 1-6. The Kerry minor and juniors were also in their respective All Ireland finals and this was the very first time any county had contested three football finals in the same year. With collective or full time training now banned and money scarce the county board took the amazing and disastrous decision to train the team at separate venues bringing together different groups of players. And to add to the poor preparations the county final was played the Sunday prior to the Meath game. The Kerry selectors that year were Paddy "Bawn" Brosnan, Johnny Walsh, Fr Curtin, John Joe Sheehy, and Murt Kelly. One of them would assume the role of group trainor and would travel to Killarney, Cork or Tralee where the players gathered and this was the preparation for the 1954 final.

And so to the final, a John Joe Sheehan goal saw Kerry ahead at the short whistle 1-5 to 0-7, however in the second half the wheels well and truly fell off the Kerry wagon and the far fitter Meath side captained by Peter McDermott (the man with the cap) ran their opponents ragged and finished up 1-13 to 1-7 victors. Jackie Lyne who had played with the county from 1944 scoring 4-10 in thirty five championship appearance was sensationally dropped for the final and this decision was to cause great divisions in certain areas of the county. Jackie would never again don the county colors.  Rumor and counter rumor swept the Kingdom following the defeat. At a subsequent county board meeting chairman Frank Sheehy hit out strongly at the rumor mongers saying. "The filthy lampoon going on around the county in which the selection committee is referred to as the mad committee is unforgivable and we will do all in our power to find those responsible". He continued. "It has been rumored that Paddy "Bawn" and Johnny Walsh beat one another and that John Joe Sheehy and myself attacked each other. Vicious lies all, but unfortunately it appears the there has been a leak from the selection committee".

That defeated Kerry side: Garry o Mahoney, Mixi Palmer, Ned Roche, Donie Murphy Sean Murphy, John Cronin, Colm Kennelly, Tom Moriarty, John Dowling (Captain), Bobby Buckley, J. J. Sheehan (1-1), Paudie Sheehy, Jim Brosnan (0-2), Sean Kelly, Tadghie Lyne (0-4). Subs: None used: Gerard Stack, Brendan o Shea, Jackie Lyne, Jerome o Shea, Tom Ash, Daniel o Sullivan, Dermot Dillon, Gerald o Sullivan.
Referee-Simon Deignan, (Cavan)

The Kerry minors suffered a heartbreaking defeat by Dublin in their final the same day 3-3 to 1-8. Five points ahead going into injury time two sickening goals in the space of two minutes from Vinney Bell and Andrew Kavanagh snatched victory. The Kerry Juniors won the All Ireland beating London in Tralee 1-7 to 1-5

That Kerry minor football team: M.J. Cournane, Tim Barrett, Jack Dowling, Liam Coughlan, Brendan Kennelly, Pat o Shea, Frank o Leary, Tom Long, Jim Foley, Teddy Dowd, Johnny Culloty, Freddie Lynch, Tom Garvey, Brian Sheehy, George White. Subs: Teddy o Sullivan, Jim Lambe, Tom Burke, George Weir, Johnny Foley, Eamon Horan, Mulvihill, Mick o Dwyer. 

The Kerry Junior side that won out that year of 1954. Niall Hussey, Tom Spillane, Tom "Walla" o Connor, Tim Healy, Tom Costello, Jerome Spillane, Denny Falvey, Ned Fitzgerald, Dermot Dillon, Tom Collins, Sean Lovett, Johnny Culloty, Pop Fitzgerald, Eddie Dowling, Brendan Galvin. Subs: Micheal Kerins, Pat Clifford, Jim Porter, Paudie Guerin, Sean Horan, and Diarmuid Lawler. Dan McAuliffe missed the final because of a hand injury.

Full fordward Eddie Dowling was one of the defeated Polo Grounds New York team of 1947. This junior final of 1954 was his last appearance in the green and gold. Eddie from Ballydonoghue had played for Kerry from 1944-1952 and scored 2-2 in 21 appearances for his county. Exemplary gentleman years later I would meet Eddie regularly at North Kerry finals where he would captivate me with his wonderful stories of great games and great names. Eddie died in June 2012.

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