Kerry Footballers

Bill Dillon

by Weeshie Fogarty

Cooleen, on the shores of the famous Dingle bay, was the birthplace of one of Kerry's greatest halfbacks - the wonderful Bill Dillon. As a young boy in the early 20's his favourite past time was beagling, and his knowledge of the hills and mountains of the Dingle Peninsula was unrivalled. His introduction to football started when he attended Dingle CBS where Sean Brosnan, Bill Casey and Paddy Ban Brosnan, later to become household names with Dingle and Kerry. were among his classmates.

He came to the notice of the Kerry Minor selectors in 1933 and teamed up with fellow Dingle man Sean Brosnan at midfield. This partnership proved unbeatable, as Kerry sailed through the championship and defeated Mayo in the AIl Ireland Final. He was now playing great football for Dingle for a number of years, and made his senior debut for Kerry in the championship of 1937. Playing from the centre halfback position when Kerry defeated Cavan in the All Ireland final after a replay, Bill was winning his first senior AII Ireland Medal. Despite a setback in 1938 when Galway defeated Kerry after a replay in the AII Ireland Final, Bill won his first senior Co. Championship medal when Dingle made the breakthrough in Kerry. In May 1939, he toured America with the Kerry team, and on return, playing from his favored no. 5 position and wearing the Dingle colours, won his 2nd AII Ireland medal when Kerry defeated Meath.

In 1940, Bill captained Dingle to victory over Kerins O'Rahillys in the Co. final and also won his 3rd senior AII Ireland Medal when a last minute point by Charlie Sullivan clinched victory for Kerry over Galway. 1941 was probably the highlight of Bill's career, as not alone did he win his 3rd Co Championship with Dingle, but he also had the great honour of captaining Kerry to victory over Galway and bringing Sam Maguire back home to Dingle, to complete a hat - trick of AII Ireland victories for the Kingdom. 1943, and Dingle were back on the victory trail and under the captaincy of the legendary Paddy Ban, Dingle won their 4th county title and also a fourth Co. Championship medal for Bill. He played in his last All Ireland final in 1944 when Roscommon defeated Kerry in the final but had some consolation as he won his 5th County Championship medal when Dingle defeated Castleisland in the Co. final.

He retired from inter-county football after the '44 All Ireland final but continued to give sterling service to Dingle up to the early 50's. 1948 was the swansong for the magnificent Dingle team, and they went out in style when they defeated Shannon Rangers to win their 6th County Championship. Bill Dillon had been part of all these glorious successes, captaining them to victory in 1940 and also captaining Kerry to AII Ireland victory in 1941. His immense contribution as a footballer is sometimes overlooked when the great names of the 30's and 40's are recalled. He was teak tough, an exceptional high fielder, one of the few exponents of the one-handed catch and his fitness level was so high that trainer Dr. Eamon O'Sullivan often sent him home as he considered him to be super fit. When Bill retired, he returned to the hills and valleys of the Dingle Peninsula up the Conor Hill or Mount Brandon with his pack of beagles, and as he said himself, if it came to Croke Park on AII Ireland Final Day or Conor Hill with the Beagles, l would have to toss a coin to decide. By a rare coincidence, within a couple of weeks in 1979, three of Kerry's great captains, Paddy Kennedy, Sean Brosnan and Bill Dillon passed to their eternal reward.

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