Review of the GAA Year - a special one for Kerry

December 30th, 2014
by Weeshie Fogarty

It has been a truly momentous year in the history of Kerry GAA culminating in that unforgettable day in Croke Park last September, one of the many I have been privileged to have attended during the last five decades or so but this time it was extra special and its only now looking back in retrospect and with the benefit of hindsight that I can really appreciate as I begin to review the year gone by just why Kerry are recognized world wide as truly the aristocrats of Gaelic football. While most of the plaudits of that golden day are reserved for Eamon Fitzmaurice and his men for me the performance of our minors under the guidance of Jack o Connor must stand side by side with the senior's memorable victory.

What made the minor victory so special for me was the fact that when Jack o Connor was appointed as manager he came in with the massive weight of expectancy on his shoulders. He had done it all before with Kerry. Three senior All Ireland titles, three league wins and five Munster's as well as under 21 and college  All Ireland victories. But could he bring the under eighteen crown to the Kingdom which the passionate Kerry supporters craved for so much, it was a big ask.  And boy he delivered in glorious style as his under young men produced a devastating display of glorious football to put Donegal to the sword, 0-17 to 1-10, the first minor win in twenty years.

 But it was the manner of their display which thrilled most of all, is this the future of Kerry football?, a small county displaying all that was good in under age football. Short fast movement of the ball from defence, each man available to help his team mate, the quick long accurate delivery into the full forward line and then the sublime score. It was copy book football. Hightly disciplined, young Kerry footballers being handed the traditions of those legends players gone before them.  Ready for the next step to the under twenty or senior grade.

The senior's victory has been and rightly so hailed as special and unexpected, (not unexpected by the players and management I should emphasize ). The foundations were laid when the squad spend a week in Portugal and plans were well and truly laid for the Munster final and Declan o Sullivan's display against Cork was simply magnificent especially as the Dromid man was suffering serious knee problems. The two games against Mayo will go down as unforgettable and while lady luck smiled on the Kingdom their never say die attitude and superb movement of the ball was a revelation. And then the plans laid by Eamon Fitzmaurice and his side line generals to defeat Donegal  stunned the Northern men.

While it was in many ways a case of "if you cant beat then join them" as regards the packed defence system applied by Jim McGuinness in recent interviews I conducted with Eamon and Declan both were at pains to point out that Kerry did not apply the same stringent defensive system. It was a memorable victory savored to the full by the ecstatic and hightly knowledgeable Kerry supporters.  Once again as I have continuously pointed out in this column Kerry side line mentors are the best in the business and never has a Kerry team won an All Ireland without two or three All Ireland medal winners  plotting and planning the down fall of opponents. Kerry will not win every year but history has proved that they will always be capable of winning Sam Maguire. No other county can boast of this.

And then we had Phobail Scoil Chorca Dhuibhne winning the Hogan Cup in thrilling fashion and again the genius of Eamon Fitzmaurice, the quite, courteous side line leader showing  intellect and vast knowledge so necessary to succeed in the present day game.  Ardfert, Brosna, Austin Stacks and Castleisland ladies winning Munster titles copper fastening our belief that Kerry football is entering a new era as the coaching and preparation of young players in those selected squads in the county is bearing rich dividends.

And finally any man or woman worth their salt will wear their club pride on their sleeve and I am no different as I took great delight in my own Killarney Legion club annex fifteen trophies this year between East Kerry and county, men and women. A football committee in its first year set up by retiring chairman Pat Moynihan and driven on by our present  chairman Jimmy Reen and Vice Chairman Enda Walsh is beginning to bear fruit. Now the trick is to strive even more. James o Donoghue, Brian Kelly and Jonathan Lyne brought Celtic Crosses to the club and James displays despite a seriously damaged shoulder was a source of great pride to our club. We have so many dedicated individuals in The Legion and very often these club trojan workers are completely overlooked. Well done to one and all.   So much to look back on and so little space so next wek we will look at more golden moments in the sporting careers of Kerry men and women.

Fogra; Seamus o Mahoney the first Sports Editor of Radio Kerry was laid to rest in Rath Cemetery Tralee last Sunday morning. He was the man who build the foundations of the Radio Kerry Sports department we work for to day. The sun shone from a cloudless blue sky as our friend and collogue was buried. St Brendan's church was packed to capacity for the funeral mass and the three gifts brought to the alter by Seamus grand children signified three of his life's great passions. The Austin Stacks jersey, a Manchester United cap and a microphone which symbolized  the wonderful sports broadcasting he did on Radio Kerry.  Members of the Austin Stacks cub and his former working collogues in Radio Kerry formed a guard of honour from the church to the cemetery and his coffin was draped in the black and amber flag of the stacks the club he loved so much. Seamus was the man who started me with my life on radio. He was kind, generous, warm, sports mad, and down to earth and in many ways a simple man who loved his family and his home town of Tralee. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. May the sod of Rath rest lightly on a great friend and special man. To his wife Mary, children Helen, Kathy, Joe and Seamus and his beloved grand children we extend our deepest sympathies

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