St Marys Caherciveen and Templenoe win the Intermediate and Junior All Ireland titles

February 16th, 2016
by Weeshie Fogarty

It was another memorable and historic Kerry football day in Croke Park last Saturday when St Mary's Caherciveen and Templenoe wrote themselves into histories pages as they won the Intermediate and Junior All Ireland titles respectively. So the title, champions changed hands in the space of a few hours from Ardfert and Brosna who until then were they themselves the holders of those two prestigious titles. Templenoe's massive victory showed in no uncertain fashion why this side had been firm favorites to win the championship. Chalking up a huge score of 4-13 against Ardnaree-Sarsfields was really the icing on the proverbial cake for this side and it eclipsed the 3-13 scored by St Mary's when they won this same junior title back in 2011. Incidentally the biggest score of all recorded in a Junior All Ireland final was 5-7 by Two Mile House Kildare when they beat Fuerty (Roscommon) in 2014.

The remarkable debth of Kerry's club scene has been highlighted by our success at Junior and Intermediate since the competitions first began under the direction of Sean Kelly back in 2002. The success clubs from Kerry have enjoyed is almost identical to that achieved by clubs from the hurling stronghold of Kilkenny who have also won a host of titles in these very same grades. Indeed it's a wonderful and rare occurrence that in a day that managers Maurice Fitzgerald and Mike Crowley saw their clubs reach the summit another Kerryman Christy Walsh from the hurling stronghold of Kilmoyle was guiding his adopted Bennetsbridge Kilkenny's Intermediate side to their All Ireland win also in Croke Park.

Once again it was heartbreak for Mayo football as their two clubs yielded to the football skills and passion of the Kerrymen. In fact it's a remarkable fact that no club from Mayo has won either a Junior or Intermediate All Ireland title. Of course the input of the Spillane family in this historic Templenoe win has been well documented and as in most Kerry success stories when you delve into the histories and look behind  All Ireland success the football linage stretching back the generations is very often to be found.  And the Spillane boy's, sons of Tom and Pat copper fastened in no uncertain way just how important and vital this aspect of Kerry succession is. 

However there is even a stronger link with Kerry football heritage in this aspect of Templemore's great win in relation to the Spillane family because the young men's late grandmother was a sister to the legendary Lyne family of Cleeney. Jackie All Ireland medal winner and trainor of winning Kerry senior and Denny the Polo grounds captain in that 1947All Ireland defeat by Cavan. Another brother Fr Mickey also won a Celtic cross while yet a fourth Teddy won a junior medal.  And then to add luster to it all the present Kerry All Ireland medal winner Jonathan Lyne is first cousin to the Spillane's. So the old adage blood is thicker than water was never more appropriate than in this instance.

Easily the greatest game of club football I saw this year and for many the long day was the Kerry Intermediate county semi-final when St Mary's defeated Castleisland Desmonds 3-17 to 3-15. It was scintilling stuff, from start to finish and from that day I was in no doubt whatsoever but that Caherceiveen would win the All Ireland.  From one to fifteen they have quality in every line and with a leader like Bryan Sheehan in their midst they really were never going to let this slip. Ten minutes of the second half decided last Saturdays final. Level six points each at half time a cracking Daniel Daly goal opened up the gap. A magnificent left footed point into the Canal goal; from Brian Sheehan was added, and then the crucial score of a the game, Anthony Cournane's beautiful delicate flick of the wrist punched goal from a Niall o Driscoll high center sent St Mary's on their winning way.  Those few instances of sheer class and skill and the magnificent display of their full back line all through were for me the deciding factors in a close fought, hard earned win. 

The contribution of manager Maurice Fitzgerald was also critically central to this win as the Intermediate title follows their Junior win in 2002. The former great Kerry forward has no doubt inspired his charges by word and action all along the way and indeed any footballer who cannot be enthused in their football careers by this man simply has no chance of been successful.  I have watched closely as St Mary's won the Kerry, Munster and All Ireland titles as well as the South Kerry championship when Waterville were put to the sword in a superb final and then many of their players were instrumental in helping South Kerry to county championship victory.  He players have been handled superbly all during this marathon run of victories.

It has been a roller coaster year for The Boys of Barr na Sraide, Sunday after Sunday, training, playing, resting, striving for perfection. I never cease to be amazed by the dedication, commitment and sheer will to win from our All Ireland club teams. However the most fascinating aspect of all which might often be overlooked is the immense knowledge and deep understanding in every aspect of the modern game displayed by the men on the side line. Those men, guiding directing, coaching, watching over and handing down to their young charges their massive experience which they themselves have amassed both as club and county footballers in their day. The handing down of club traditions.

So salute the St Mary's back room team, manager Maurice Fitzgerald, Noel Cournane, the wonderful enthusiastic James o Sullivan, Seamus Fitzgerald, Mossey Coffey, Marie Teahan, Brendan Casey and John Teahan.  And finally the Templenoe side line generals who have dedicated their lives to their clubs amazing run of success, from the fifth division in Kerry to the first and all the way to All Ireland glory. Mike Crowley, Paul Crowley, Neille o Sullivan and Mike Hussey. These are the grass roots men and women who contribute hugely to The Secret of Kerry.

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