Sean McCarthy (1898 - 1977)

by Weeshie Fogarty

Sean McCarthy was born in Blennerville outside Tralee in 1898 and later moved to Strand Street in the town. He was one of the founders of the local club known as the Kerins O'Rahillys. As a footballer he was midfield with his friend John Joe Sheehy on the Kerry senior team beaten by Galway in the All Ireland semi-final replay of 1919. In 1924 he captained the Kerry junior team that beat Longford in the All Ireland final.

He was trainer of the famous Kerry football team that won four All Irelands in a row from 1929 to 1932 and he was manager of the Kerry team that toured America in 1931. He was also a well known referee and officiated in the senior football All Ireland finals of 1934 and 1936.

As an administrator in the G.A.A. he has a record that will probably never be surpassed. He was appointed Chairman of the Kerry County Board in 1927. He represented Kerry for six years on the Munster Council before becoming secretary in 1931, a position he held until his death in 1977. So all in all he served for over fifty years on the Munster Council of the G.A.A. During his life long service to the association he was always known for his humility and kindness.

He died on the 24th of July, 1977 on the day the Munster Football Final between Cork and Kerry was played in Killarney.

1919 Kerry Football and Hurling County Final Medals

In 1919, Jack McCarthy won a football county final medal with Tralee Mitchels beating Dingle in the county final 3-3 to 2-2 and also won a hurling county final medal with Tralee Parnells. Jack McCarthy played midfield for Tralee Mitchels with his friend John Joe Sheehy and both were subsequently picked to play for the Kerry team of 1919.

Account of 1924 Kerry Junior All Ireland Winners From Kerry's Football Story

Prior to the big match the Kerry Juniors beat Mayo by 3 goals and 3 points to 1 goal 1 point, in the All-Ireland Junior Football semi-final. On July 25th, 1925, the Kerry Junior Footballers defeated Longford (graded junior) in the All-Ireland Football Final. The teams were level at 3 points each in the first half, but in the concluding moiety the Kingdom boys asserted superiority in traditional style and won 1 goal 6 points to 4 points.

Kerry, J Riordan (goal), J. McCarthy (capt), Denis O'Connell, W. Riordan, John Slattery, P.Clifford, Thomas and Michael Graham, Thomas Mahony, Paud Sullivan, Tom O'Donnell, S. Kerins, E. Fitzgerald, Denis O'Connor, T. O'Connor.

Account of Jack McCarthy training the Four in a Row team from In the Name of the Game

Being non-politic though intensely nationalistic O'Donnell can look back at the political climate of the twenties with a neutral retrospective and his account of the interaction between the politically opposed footballers and officials of Kerry football in the twenties and thirties is worth recalling.

"There was certainly great tension in the dressing room at times when the political climate would over-boil. But, many of us would ignore the bad feelings in the air and get on with playing the game for our county. It could be very embarrassing of somebody brought up politics in the conservation. However, though I was a Garda during some bad times, I never felt any needle against me from my team mates. We were all very close". They were bound to be close due to the training regime they enjoyed as Kerry players. For, even in O'Donnell's first All Ireland winning year of 1929, the Kerry team spent three weeks in full-time training in Tralee under trainer Jack McCarthy, eventual Secretary of the Munster Council of the GAA.

"We were staying in the Central Hotel in Tralee. We trained under Jack at the Sportsfield from 11 a.m. until 1 o'clock when we broke for a good cooked meat lunch. It was back to training again from 3 o'clock until 5 o'clock when we went back to the hotel again for another substantial meal. After out dinner we went for a seven mile march before retiring to bed at 11 p.m.

We were very fit and the comradeship was outstanding. We would die for each other, though there were people there who were strongly opposed politically. We always broke up the training camp on Wednesday to go home for a few days. We would all meet at the 2 p.m. train for Dublin on Saturday when there was a separate carriage supplied for the team and officials. We were very well looked after and it paid off handsomely for Kerry football".

Account of the Munster Secretaryship Vote from The Kerryman and The Kerry Champion

The Kerryman Sat Oct 10 1931

Kerry County Board

At a meeting of the above held in the Park Hotel, Tralee, on Sunday. Mr. C. Brosnan, Vice-Chairman, and subsequently Mr D. J. Baily, presided. Also present Dr. E. O'Sullivan, V.P.; Messers J. Moran, Treasurer; J. J. Sheehy, Munster Council; J. Myles, J. Hickey, M. McQuinn, Tralee Board; M. McAuliffe, North Kerry Board; D. Daly, M. Clifford, M. Driscoll, South Kerry Board; M. Wade, E. Moynihan, J. O'Dwyer, East Kerry Board; F. Harty, J. McCarthy, J. Brosnan, North Kerry Hurling Board; D. P. O'Riordan and J. McCarthy, Secretary.

Muster Secretaryship

Dr. O'Sullivan proposed a vote of congratulation to the Country Board Secretary on his appointment as Secretary to the Munster Council. It was a great tribute to the Kerry that the five hurling counties should select the nominee of the one football county in the Province.

Mr. D. P. O'Riordan, N. T. seconded, and the Secretary suitably replied.

The Chairman associated himself with the vote, which was passed unanimously.

Election of Secretary

The appointment of Secretary was then taken up, the Chairman stating that  before they proceeded with the election he wished to compliment Mr. McGrath, acting sec, on the manner in which the accounts were presented to the Council. Having read the advertisement setting out the terms and qualifications for the Secretaryship, he went on to read applications, onclosing testimonials, from the following : Messrs D. Lanigan, Limerick; T. Considine, Clare; J. McCarthy, Kerry, Frank McGrath, Tipperary. P. P. McGrath, do. Mr D. B. Murphy, he said, who had been nominated by the Cork Co. Board, had withdrawn his candidature for business reasons. All the candidates were sanctioned by their respective Co. Committees and either of them would do credit to the Association. There was another matter which he wished the Council to carefully consider and that was whether the election would be by ballot vote or open voting. If it were by a convention the voting would be by ballot.

Dr. Bugler (Clare), seconded by Mr. Walsh (Waterford), proposed open voting.

Mr. Sean Murphy (Cork), seconded by Mr Glesson (Limerick), proposed that the procedure adopted at Congress be followed, and have the vote by ballot.

On a show of a hands it was decided by 8 to 5 to vote by ballot.

The Chairman read a resolution passed by the Gaelic League in Dublin bearing on the election, and pointing out that it was desirable that the candidate selected for the position should have  a competent knowledge of Irish. The question of a working knowledge of Irish. The question of a working knowledge of Irish was one for the judgement of the members of the Council. Any candidate who did not possess the knowledge of Irish required would have to make himself more proficient in it as soon as possible. If, he said, the voting came to a tie he would not give his casting vote. He would let it go to the Munster Convention. He left the members of the Council now to exercise their own judgement and vote for the best man.

The candidates were then taken as proposed and seconded.

On the first poll the voting was – Frank McGrath, 4; D. Lanigan, 3; J. McCarthy, 3; T. Considine, 2; P. McGrath, 2.

A poll between T. Considine and P. McGrath left the position – McGrath 7; Considine, 5.

The latter was accordingly eliminated

There was two spoiled votes, these having been recorded in mistake by Frank McGrath. The members who made the mistake were taken as not voting.

The next poll resulted as follows – P. McGrath, 5; J. McCarthy, 4; F. McGrath, 3; D. Lanigan, 2. The latter fell out.

The following poll was: J. McCarthy, 6; Frank McGrath, 5; P. McGrath, 3.

On a final poll between J. McCarthy and Frank McGrath, the former was elected, the voting being:- J. McCarthy, 8; F. McGrath, 6.

Mr Baily (Kerry) thanked the Council on behalf of the successful candidate, and said no mistake was made in electing Mr. McCarthy, who was a man of much experience, and had a thorough knowledge of Irish.

The Chairman said that Mr. McCarthy would do honour to the Council

The Kerry Champion, Saturday, October 10, 1931

Congratulations to Mr. Jack McCarthy and the Kerry Team

Dr. O'Sullivan said he thought they should congratulate their Secretary on his appointment as Secretary to the Munster Council. It was a great tribute to Kerry when Mr. McCarthy was appointed and they should appreciate it. Kerry was the only football county in the province, and to be voted for by five hurling counties and their own was a great tribute. They appreciated it . They would miss his services, he had been a very efficient secretary for a number of years. He was straight forward in his dealings with everybody and would be a great loss to his county. He wished him success in his new appointment.

Mr. O'Riordan said he had great pleasure in seconding the proposition with regard to the appointment of Mr. McCarthy as permanent secretary of the Munster Council. Mr. McCarthy had the unique distinction of being chairman for a number of years and afterwards he used that experience as secretary with great justice to the county. He also acted as trainer of the Kerry Team on various occasions and proved his ability as a trainer both from the mental and physical point of view. He heartily congratulated him on getting the appointment and hoped he would do his best endeavour for football throughout the whole of Ireland. He did very well during the tour of the Kerry Team in America and helped to make the game an international game. He hoped he would not forget the old Kingdom if ever anything turned up.

The Secretary thanked the members for their remarks. It was certainly a further glory for Kerry with its already great record. It was a big thing for him to be appointed secretary fo the Munster Council. He was wandering still hot it happened whether it was on merit or whether it was because he (Secretary) came from a great Gaelic county. They all appreciated the medium that brought this further honour which crowned all their honours. He though that all could be expect that he would never forget the Kingdom.

The Kerryman Sat Oct 10 1931

Heartiest congratulations to Mr. Jack McCarthy, Secretary Kerry Co. Board, on his appointment as Secretary to the Munster Council.

There was other capable candidates for the position in the persons of Messrs Denny Lanigan, Limerick; "Tull Considine", Clare; and Paddy and Frank McGrath, Tipperary. It is a tribute and an appreciation of his efficiency that he was selected from such worthy opponents.

Mr. McCarthy has been for seven years on the Munster Council. He has been Secretary of the Kerry Co. Board for the past three years, and was formerly Chairman. He is Secretary, also, of the Tralee Sportsfield Committee. A man of wide experience of G.A.A. work he is sure to fill his new position with credit. The election is likewise a tribute to the popularity of the Kingdom.

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