Kerry face Limerick in the 2010 Munster Football Final

June 29th, 2010
by Weeshie Fogarty

We remember the 1965 battle between the two counties and wonderful memories of Thomas Mahoney of Moyvane who scored the winning goal in the 1926 All Ireland Final replay against Kildare.

When the full time whistle blew in the recent National League division four final, in Croke Park it signaled the end of a century long barren spell for the footballers of Limerick. That day they won their first piece of national silver ware in one hundred and fourteen years. Not an earth shattering event by any means, however it was significant in the fact that it broke that long losing spell  and more importantly is the fact that there was not just one but two Kerrymen deeply involved in that historic victory. Mickey "Ned" o Sullivan was the manager and Donie Buckley from Castleisland was the trainer. And they will be the men attempting to bring about the down fall of their native county next Sunday in Fitzgerald Stadium and claim Limericks first senior Munster football title since 1896. It's an awesome challenge for the Treaty men and they will go into the game as raging under dogs.  So what hope if any have the men in green and white of shocking this great Kerry team, and it is a great Kerry side? 
Well there is one defining thread running through many of the Kerry/Limerick Munster finals since I first saw my first between the two counties away back in 1965. And that is whenever a Kerryman was in charge of Limerick in one of those finals they were capable of giving Kerry a fairly good run for their money. And of course this is due to the fact and I always believe this, when a Kerryman is in charge of a team outside of his own county his knowledge of football, his passion, and his expertise gives him a head start before all others. Who will forget that superb Munster final back in 1991 in Killarney when the great Johnno Keeffe was in charge of Limerick. This was a wonderful game and eventual Kerry scraped home on the score 0-23 to 2-12. And at the end of the day only for the brilliance of Maurice Fitzgerald Limerick would have won. He scored 0-12 as he gave a memorable display of sheer skill and deadly accuracy.

And what about 2004 when another Kerry man very nearly brought about the down fall of the Kingdom again in the final. Austin Stacks Liam Kerins saw his side draw with Kerry in Limerick, 1-10 each and only for Dara o Se bringing down two balls from over his own cross bar in those heart stopping minutes Limerick would have triumphed. Kerry won the re-play 3-10 to 2-9, Dara o Cinneide and Eoin Brosnan finding the net.  Now hands up any reader who can tell who were the two Kerry men deeply involved with Limerick when they faced Kerry in a dramatic Munster final in the Gaelic Grounds forty five long years ago? Father Dermot McCarthy from the parish of Duagh was the chairman of the Limerick county board and that great Kerryman and All Ireland winner with his county the late Garry McMahon was the trainer of that county.  It was one of my first excursions to the Ennis Road grounds and I was in the company of my Killarney Legion club men, Danno Keeffe, Mickey, Culloty both deceased, Lui Nolan and also another highly knowledgeable GAA man Seamus o Mahoney from Woodlawn.

Limerick gave a stunning first half performance and led at the short whistle 2-5 to 0-6. The Limerick supporters rose to their feet and cheered them off the field as a stunned Kerry side rushed to the dressing rooms under the stand. 19,943 was the official attendance that memorable day. In the 7th minute Limericks burly full fordward Mick Tynan had rounded the late Paudie o Donoghue and crashed the ball past Johnny Culloty. Then shortly after this corner fordward Pat Murphy goaled from close in and Kerry were in deep trouble. My memories are of two well engineered scores both beautifully executed.  Kerry's Mick Fleming and Jimmy Lucy were completely outplayed at mid field by John Ahern and David Quirk and at half time the Kerry mentors made the match winning moves. Mick o Connell and Denis o Sullivan went to mid-field, Derry o Shea came on and the whole game changed. O Connells combination with Derry o Shea was delightful and it was the Mitchels man who set up J J Barrett for the vital first goal. Bernie o Callaghan also goaled nearing full time. My memories are of Mick o Connell superb, Derry o Shea destroying the Limerick defense with some jinking runs and setting up many scores and Johnny Culloty saving twice from close range near the finish from Mick Tynan. Eamon Creagan, Tim Wolfe and Seamus Cox were other that failed to stop Kerry winning their eight in a row Munster titles.  It finished 2-16 to 2-7. Kerry scorers; Bernie o Callaghan RIP (1-1), J J Barrett (1-2), Vincent Lucy (0-6), Mick o Connell (0-5), Mick Fleming (0-1), Mick o Dwyer (0-1).

So now Mickey "Ned" attempts the near impossible and if any one can achieve victory it is he.  One of the most knowledge and dedicated GAA men you will meet in a days march the Kenmare native is hugely experienced and has amassed a massive amount of knowledge since he first became involved in inter county football as a minor away back in 1970. He took over as Kerry manager from Mick o Dwyer in 1989 and trained both the Kerry seniors and under twenty ones until 1992. He has been Limericks manager since 2005 and it took two injury time goals from Cork to beat them in the 2008 semi-final. Then in 2009 In Pairc Ui Chaoimh in the final, Mickey "Ned's" men suffered cruel defeat when Cork got a late, late goal to deny them a historic Munster Championship. This Kenmare is a very shrewd operator indeed.

Jack o Connor will be under no illusions what so ever in relation to the challenge ahead and will as always have his men well and truly prepared both mentally and physically. While I have emphasized the games Limerick have worried Kerry in there have also been some very one sided matches when Kerry simply destroyed the Treaty men. So what will happen next Sunday? Kerry are as expected strong favorites and I fully expect them to win, however  Limerick have some fine players in John Galvin one of the great warriors of the game at mid field, Stephen Kelly, Stephen Lavin, Padraig Browne, Conor Fitzgerald, Seanie Buckley their captain and Ger Collins. A good start as they say is half the battle and Limerick will need this if they are to push Kerry as they did under Gary McMahon, Liam Kerins and Johnno Keeffe.
Fogra; One more abiding memory I have from the 1965 Munster final was the fact that I experienced my first ever minutes silence before the game observed for a former Kerry great. Thomas Mahoney was from Moyvane. He won a Junior All Ireland in 1924. However he is best remembered for his opportunist goal which turned the scales against Kildare in the famous replay of the 1926 All Ireland final.   Tom died in England the wek before the Munster final and he was one of a cluster of brilliant players including Con Brosnan and the o Sullivan's who came out of Moyvane the twenties. He first wore the Kerry jersey on the Kerry team which defeated Longford, graded Junior in the All Ireland final of 1924(played1925). He made his mark in that match and then we find him again on the Kerry team which engaged in the memorable draw and re-play with Kildare in 1926.
Though small of stature Tom was stockily built with a very accurate kick as he played in the forwards. In the 1926 replay Kildare led Kerry 0-3 to 0-2 at half time. The scores remained unchanged until mid way in the second half. Then Kerry forced a fifty and a second followed soon after. Moriarty's free was going wide when Sheehy fisted it across the square. Mahoney sprinted in from the opposite side of the square and fisted the ball into the Kildare net giving Kerry the lead for the first time. That score proved decisive and Kery won 1-4 to 0-4. Thomas toured America with the Kerry team in 1927and played in all the games from New York to Chicago. The visitors won everywhere except in New York. Tom assisted his native North Kerry in many hectic county championship battles with Tralee before retiring from the game. A great old Kerry remembered before that 1965 Munster final and his name remained engrained in my football memories since that day.

That historic 1926 win over Kildare is reputed to be the greatest Kerry display of all time. There was wild rejoicing all over kery when news of the great victory reached the Kingdom curtsey of pidgin mail. In Tralee there were scenes of wild jubilation. Windows were illuminated with lighted candles and bonfires blazed in the streets as they did on the hills and glens of Kerry. In Tralee a band headed by torch bearers paraded through then streets and serenaded the houses of then players in turn.  John M Collins trained the team for the drawn game and Dr Eamonn trained them for the replay. It was Eamonn's first time training the Kerry side... Sadly a few days after the match the death of the great Johnny Murphy of South Kerry was announced. Johnny had been the star of the drawn game but contacted tuberculosis before the replay. He was just twenty two years old and the South Kerry championship cup competed for each year is commemorates his memory.

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