Tradition can't be discounted in the Kerry football tale

September 27th, 2016
by Alan Aherne, The Wexford People

Heart and Soul of Kerry FootballNowadays one would risk being frowned upon if 'tradition' was used as a reason to explain why the likes of Kerry and Kilkenny are so consistently successful in their respective codes.

A lot of rubbish talk permeates the airwaves and national newspapers in my view, and many of the worst culprits are the former players turned pundits rather than the journalists.

It's all about defensive systems and how teams are expected to 'transition' on the field. They simply mean moving the ball from A to B, but that doesn't sound trendy enough so it's consigned to dim and distant memory.

And while I'm not suggesting for a moment that tradition is the main reason for the triumphs of certain counties, it's an incredible help at the same time.

That point comes shining through in 'The Heart & Soul of Kerry Football' by Weeshie Fogarty which was recently released by O'Brien Press.

The examples are everywhere; take, for instance, the tale of the proud Kerry father who placed a football on the pillow next to his son, because he wanted it to be the first thing he saw and smelled when he woke up every morning.

The author doesn't reveal the identity of the child in question, but does say that he went on to wear the green and gold at Minor and Under-21 level.

Meanwhile, the first present for Weeshie's only son, left carefully at the end of his cot, was a football.

And then we read about the elderly man whose dying wish was granted: he wanted an ex-Kerry footballer to read a poem about the county's obsession with the game to the exclusion of the prayers of the faithful at his funeral.

Weeshie's own love of the game was fuelled by the visit of the three Killarney players on the team to his school with the Sam Maguire Cup after the All-Ireland final victory of 1953.

All of the above examples underline why tradition is, in fact, so important. These counties win so often, and the children are visited with such regularity, that every generation grows up with dreams of wearing the jersey.

Contrast this with our own situtation in Wexford where no teenager has a living experience of what an All-Ireland victory means.

The author of this book charts his own experiences of Kerry football since he attended his first final in 1955.

A retired psychiatric nurse, he's built up quite the cult following over the years after developing a very successful career in local radio and presenting the popular 'Terrace Talk' programme.

And unlike many bluffers on the airwaves, he knows what he's talking about after a distinguished club career, involvement with the All-Ireland winning Kerry panel of 1969 as substitute goalkeeper, and a number of years as an inter-county referee.

The book is written in the same conversational style as the author deploys on radio, and he's adept at recalling the many intersting stories that have shaped the success of Kerry football down through the years.

A lot has been written about the game in the Kingdom, and my own personal favourite is 'Princes of the Pigskin' which was penned by my former college classmate Joe O Muircheartaigh, and T.J. Flynn.

I enjoyed this book too, as it's an easy to read potted history of the last 60 years of a truly great football county, with the narrative flitting from topic to topic and moving along at a brisk pace.

Radio Kerry - The Voice of the Kingdom