Beale reclaim North Kerry Championship after a 25 year lapse

January 13th, 2015
by Weeshie Fogarty

Last Saturday in o Rahilly Park Ballylongford the final curtain came down on the 2014 North Kerry Championship and in what was a magnificent final we witnessed a superb trained Beale side reclaim the title after a lapse of twenty five long years as they edged out the holders Listowel Emmets amidst scenes of great joy and euphoria. When excellent referee Eddie Barrett sounded the final whistle and the stewards threw open the entrance gates to the field a surging wave of red, black and green color raced to meet their heroes. Hats, scarves and flags were thrown into the air, grown men hugged each other, as did young and old, the players were engulfed in a sea of emotion and tears of sheer joy and total happiness were every where to be seen.

It was mighty stuff, the grass roots of the association at its very best, everything that is good and great about the clubs of Kerry and the traditions and enduring wonder of our divisional championships. There is something honest, pure, emotional, exciting and exhilarating about North Kerry football. We have witnessed the final stages of this remarkable competition before, during (St Stephens Day) and after Christmas, we are in the deepest, darkest, dreariest bones of winter. A savage hailstone shower dancing a tune on the roof of the stand, before the game last Saturday reminded us, if reminding was necessary exactly what time of the year we had. And yet not one person I met, and I had the privilege of meeting many before and after the game expressed one single comment or derogatory remark in relation to the weather, the time of year or any other aspect of the day.  

Numerous Beale supporters remarked to me that beating Listowel in the final was akin to other counties beating Kerry in the championship. Listowel are the bench mark and indeed they might have won the final despite the fact that Beale superbly trained by South Kerry native Patie o Mahoney were the more superior side on the day and the longer the hour went on the better they were getting. The great Emmets long serving warrior Noel Kennelly suffered a leg injury early in the hour affecting a brilliant block down and this greatly restricted his movement while Connor Cox, Bryan Murphy, Brian Maguire and David Sheehy gave their all for the Listowel cause.

But the day belonged to Beale, this little Ballybunion based club whose boundaries stretch to Asdee, Ballyduff and Ballydonoghue. It was founded in 1972 and two of it's most famous sons Bomber Liston and Ogie Moran who between them have won fifteen senior All Ireland medals, twenty Munster's and thirteen North Kerry Championship medals with their beloved Beale were there to savor the moment.  Both gentlemen were visibly emotional with the events of the day when I spoke to them amid the mayhem and bedlam on the field as the Eamon o Donoghue Cup was being presented to outstanding captain James McMahon.

You will sit and enjoy Timmy Sheehan's as always exemplary match report elsewhere in this edition, the Austin Stacks man positioned on the sideline endured the hail, rain and biting winter wind but thankfully no snow to cover the game but I am sure just like the rest of us media pack he hugely enjoyed this wonderful unique occasion because this was what you can refer to as "a unique occasion".  On the outskirts of Ballylongford village the approach road from Listowel was lined with cars to a distance of over a mile out long before the throw in and the Listowel and Beale supporters were making their way to the ticket van in their droves. And yes the North Kerry Board was using ticket vans long before Weeshie Lynch county board treasurer introduced the scheme around the county this year.  Stewards were to be seen every where helping, directing and welcoming, Mairead o Sullivan the boards exemplary PRO handed us a superb sixty page match program and Tara Mulvihill delivered a beautiful rendering of the national Anthem.

Beal trailed the townies 0-6 to 0- 4 at the short whistle but in a pulsating second half they came from behind not once but twice to claim victory 0-11to 0-10. Ger o Gorman was deadly from frees, raising five invaluable white flags While all were heroes on the day Neilus Mulvihill (with the Fellini hairstyle), Padraig Murphy, Barry o Mahoney, Shane Joy and the superb Declan Bambury will be forever remembered for their heroics but it was goalkeepers Sean Dee's two brilliant saves, one it each half that for me decided the issue.

I visited a great friend Alan Kennelly in the village before the game and our conversation covering all aspects of the day eventually turned to the remarkable and uplifting story of how the name of the Ballylongford field actually came about. It's a wonderful and sad account of one great Kerryman, and I wondered to myself how many of the massive crowds at the game were familiar with this patriot known as The o Rahilly.  Michael Joseph o Rahilly was born in Ballylongford in 1875; he was a Republican and a language enthusiast. He was very well traveled spending at least ten years in the United States and Europe; he was also a founder member and Director of Arms of The Irish Volunteers.

He fought with the GPO garrison during Easter week and on Friday 28th April 1916 volunteered to lead a group of volunteers in search of a rout out of the GPO to nearby Williams and Woods. Unfortunately a British machine gunner caught the group in his sights and they came under heavy fire. The Kerryman fell badly injured wounded and bleeding in a doorway in Sackville Lane (now o Rahilly Parade). Despite his obvious pain The o Rahilly managed to write a last very poignant message to his wife Nancy and this last message from the Ballylongford native is etched into his limestone and bronze sculpture.

It reads, "Written after I was shot. Darling Nancy I was shot leading a rush up Moore Stand and took refuge in a doorway. While I was there I heard the men pointing out where I was and made a bolt for the laneway where I am now. I got more than one bullet I think. Tons and tons of love dearie to you and the boys and to Nell and Ana, it was a good fight anyway. Please deliver this to Nannie o Rahilly, 40 Herbert Park Dublin Goodbye Darling".

A visit to a North Kerry Championship game can excite, educate, inform, lift the spirits in the deepest darkest days of winter and it is no surprise when we uncover stories such as the bravery and sacrifice of local hero The o Rahilly that this in some small way transfers to the players and supporters who live for occasions such as this. 

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Another National Award for Radio Kerry. Winning an All Ireland On the back of An All Ireland.
Just announced that Terrace Talk (on the air for 19 years) has won another prestigious GAA award for the best GAA radio sports program in the country. The program was based on the Sam Maguire Cup and it is fitting that Kerry is the county from which this came from. Coming the same year as the program won the prestigious PPI National award is unique and probably never before achieved.

As in all National wins in any sports or category it was a big team effort and the Terrace Talk team excelled in this production. Deirdre Walsh presented the show on the night and her lovely easy friendly style and professionalism shone through. Eileen Moynihan our receptionist, with the team for 15 years is our wonderful courteous link to the world and the listeners to the program. Sinead Prendergast is with the show as sound operator for 10 years and is always the cool professional lady, a rock to work with, she counts me out every Monday evening??. Ciaran o Reagan who edited the show is the exemplary producer and a new addition to the team but brings huge dedication and work ethic with him.

Marian Flaherty Radio Kerry Presenter and Kerryman journalist contributed greatly to the project with a beautiful West Kerry interview re "The Canister" as Paidi o Se referred to it. This help capture in superb style exactly the true essence of what the Cup stands for.
Winning two National Radio Awards in the one season would not be possible with those in charge giving full backing and Paul Brennan (Chief Executive) and Fiona Stack (General Manager) are always encouraging, and available to help whenever needed and indeed rarely question the content of the show which gives us great scope and range of sporting topics to explore.

Terrace Talk just continues into the Monday a superb weekend of sport, eight hours between Saturday and Sunday with head of Sport Joe o Mahoney and Gary o Sullivan and as I have learned following two recent trips to America it has a massive following all around the world with the Kerry Diaspora.

The whole concept of the winning program originated when Killarney man Pat Mannix (he worked for a while with Radio Kerry Sports) now a tour guide in Kilkenny Castle suggested that the man who made the new Sam Maguire Cup based in Kilkenny was available for an interview re his life as a world renowned silver smith. And so the foundation for this award winning program was born.

Radio Kerry - The Voice of the Kingdom