Kerry Footballers

The classiest most stylish Kerry Football Fifteen I have seen since my first game in 1955

by Weeshie Fogarty

Left full back
There were a number of contenders and I finally decided on the great Beautfort man Paudie Lynch. Blessed with all the attributes of skill this most elegant of players had wonderful hands and would simply glide his way past opponents. Tall and strong, for me Paudie is probably one of the most under rated of Kerry footballers? He began his career at mid field with Mick o Connell in 1971. The bigger the occasion the better he was and he lined out for his county in National Leagues and All Irelands at mid-field, wing-fordward, centre-back, and in the 1980-81 All Ireland wins starred at corner back. Was he the most versatile of all Kerry footballers? He won five senior medals and his brother Brendan won three and uniquely all in different playing times for those finals. .

Right half back
I go back to the golden fifties and the first the great stylish that I ever saw in the green and gold. Sean Murphy from Camp is the only single individual to have an All Ireland directly associated with his name. He won three medals, 1953=55=59 and the 1959 final is referred to as the "Sean Murphy final". He was magnificent that day and his play was always adorned with all the great skills of the game. Fielding, kicking, blocking and accurate foot passing. A brother of Seamus and now retired from his profession as a doctor he resides in Tralee. Chosen on the teams of the Century and Team of the Millennium Sean also won Texaco Footballer of the Year in 1959.

Centre Back
Seamus Moynihan would be on any team in any decade. One of the greatest players this county has produced. The near perfect footballer. I once described him in a match commentary of an All Ireland final as the Rolls Royce of Gaelic football. Sheer class in every thing he did on the field of play. To see him dancing and weaving past opponents for club and county was a thing of beauty. He had the fastest pair of hands I have ever seen and would snatch the ball from under the noses of opponents in the twinkle of an eye. Enough said about the Glenflesk man from the Townland of Shronedraugh.

Left Half Back
Over fifty years separate the careers of the two wing backs Thomas o Se and Sean Murphy. Thomas has given and will continue to give magnificent displays from his position at wing back. His scintilling runs out of defense time and again thrill the crowds. He has superb balance, a devastating swerve as he rounds opponents and his massive scoring of around 3-18 from defense must be a record for any player in that position. No matter what the weather conditions Thomas skills always shines through. Simply the perfect wing back.

Centre Field
Probably the most skilful footballer to ever lace a boot. Mick o Connell the man from Valentia simply had it all. I consider myself so fortunate to have witnessed all his near magical skills from close up when he was in his prime and I have yet to see any player come near his displays at mid-field for club and county. His classic high fielding, free kicking, precision passing with both feet and ability to float around opponents will for ever remain etched in the memory. Selected on the GAA Team of the Millennium and team of the Century Mick was awarded the Texaco Hall of Fame Award in 1959. Simply a legend in his own life time. The perfect epitome of that word, class.

Centre Field
Partner to o Connell I have gone for Seanie Walsh. He won seven All Ireland medals, four at mid-field and three at full back. Blessed with a fine physique (like his son Tommy) Sean was a pure stylist in everything he did. A magnificent fielder, he possessed a devastating side step. A beautiful passer of the ball he had this great ability of sprinting at full pace from a near standing position. Like John o Keeffe the Kerins o Rahillys club man had to retire in 1987 with a severe hip injury. One iconic photograph of him out fielding Brian Mullins in Croke Park as both reache into the clouds sums him up better than any written words.

Right Half Forward
This position goes to another great stylist Pat Griffin. From the Glenbeigh/Glencar club Pat was well before his time and his speedy jinking runs as he sold dummies all over the place played a huge part in helping Kerry to the wins of 1969-70. Blessed with superb balance he relied entirely on his beautiful skills to beat his opponent. Fit to take his place on any Kerry team of the modern era. On Kerrys world tour of 1970 I was playing as he received a serious back injury while in opposition to the Aussies in the out back settlement of Wagga Wagga . Pat is a retired Garda in Clonakilty.

Centre Forward
This goes to another West Kerry man. Tom Long was in my estimation one of the greatest of all Kerry players. Blessed with a superb physique he could waltz round opponents like a ballet dancer. His goal scoring ability was as renowned as any Kerry footballer and despite his great strength he relied entirely on his skills to defeat his opponent. As a team mate in one county final with Tom I watched in awe as he bamboozled the opposing defense to score 4-1 and all from play. How good was he? Let's say that Tommy Walsh is a younger version of Tom Long. Now retired from his position as school principle Tom Lives in Fossa Killarney. He would walk on any Kerry side of any era. He won his All Ireland medals in 1959-62.

Left Half Forward
I go back to the golden fifties once again. Tadghie Lyne was rightly dubbed "The Prince of Forwards". My first sporting hero the late Tadghie of the Dr. Croke club was a brilliant fordward. Superb fielder of the high ball he had a devastating turn of speed, and he was the top scorer in Ireland on a number of occasions. I saw him kick points from the corner flag as he practiced in the Fitzgerald Stadium in those far off days of my youth. In a fascinating interview just months before he died he revealed to me how he would hang a football by a rope from high on the ceiling of his fathers garage in High St. Killarney and practice for hours kicking and trapping the pig skin as it swung back and forward. He played basketball for Kerry and Munster and he captured his All Ireland medals in 1953-55=59 scoring a total of twelve points.

Full Forward Line
And so I come to the full forward line and here I am going to include my three choices as of one because all three possessed near enough the same magical skills. Colm Cooper fills the right corner fordward position. Maurice Fitzgerald occupies the full fordward berth and Mickey Sheehy slots in at left corner fordward. Indeed any one of the three would be quite at home in each of the three positions. Literally blessed with all the attributes of a truly great player this full fordward line represents all that is special in Kerry football. Each man is equally prolific with both feet, can score from any distance or angle, can sell dummies to their opponents for fun and can spot a team mate without even looking. If there was a transfer system in operation in Gaelic football these three greatest exponents of all the skills in the game would demand astronomical fees. Each man has excelled in All Ireland finals. The old adage," they are worth the admission fee alone to watch them play" was never more appropriate than in this instance. We may never see their likes again.

So there you have it, my own personal selection of the greatest fifteen classiest Kerry footballers I have seen in the green and gold since 1955. Of course there are others who will rate highly in this regard but we leave that to the reader to decide who you should have been included in any of the fifteen positions.

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