Thirty reasons for my on-going love of the GAA

May 26th, 2009
by Weeshie Fogarty

AS the championship starts to roll for another year these are some of the reasons why I conduct an open love affair with the games. And while I can't go back 125 years since the foundation of the association I can go back to the golden era of the 1950s.

  1. Listening to my first game outside McNeill's pub on an old Bush radio in Lower New Street in 1953 as Jas Murphy led Kerry to a stunning victory over Armagh. Bill McCorry missed 'that' penalty.
  2. Sleeping on the over head baggage rack of the 'ghost train' as I attended my first Croke Park All-Ireland final in 1955. Early morning mass in Dublin following the ghost train journey.
  3. Two New Street teams playing for the "Sam Maguire" in the Seminary field in those far off days. The cup was an old gas lamp found in the Killarney dump, polished and shined with Brasso by my late mother.
  4. Buying our very first O'Neill's football for 10/6 from the late Danno Keeffe in Mulcahy's shoe shop Killarney. The money was raised from collecting, washing and selling jam jars.
  5. Receiving my first Killarney Legion membership card in 1954 as I paid my school friend the late Michael "Hawker" O'Grady 6p.
  6. Playing three goals to get in with my brother Geni. Our football was made from a bundle of papers, either The Kerryman or Cork Examiner rolled up and tied with twine.
  7. Attending my first Kerry football county final in the 1950s as South Kerry ruled the roost. Waterford man, neighbour and plumber Martin Morrissey brought a gang of us to Tralee in the back of his little green van. And seeing Mick O'Connell ( above) in action for the first time that day.
  8. 1959 playing my first senior county championship game against South Kerry in Caherceiveen. All the stars in action. O'Connell, O'Dwyer, O'Shea, Ned Fitzgerald, Marcus O'Neill, the Dasher. We lost.
  9. 1957 attending my first National League final as Galway's Terrible Twins Frank Stockwell and Sean Purcell lit up Croke Park with their winning late goal.
  10. Three victorious homecomings in the 50s. Bangers on the rail line as the train approached. One for each All Ireland won. Massed crowds on the platform. The cup appearing out the window of the old railway carriages. Blazing bon fires. The Killarney Brass and Reed Band leading the thousands in the parade to the Park Place Hotel.
  11. Watching Dr Eamonn O'Sullivan ( below) training the teams and been left into the field to be close to our heroes.
  12. Acting as a ball boy for the Prince of Forwards Tadghie Lyne as he practiced on his own in the stadium.
  13. The cup coming to the Monastery School and getting a half day and no lessons.
  14. Playing in the black and white colors of the Mon. The games during lunchtime in the little field at the corner of the New Road and Port Road. (It's still there).
  15. Training with The Legion for O'Donoghue Cup finals in the winter as Tim Moriarty our secretary lit the Tilly oil lamps in the old shed dressing rooms.
  16. Selling tickets for the Grand National Draw for the club, our only fund raising event for the year.
  17. My first pair of Old Blackthorn football boots.
  18. My first introduction to the "Secrets of Kerry" as I listened to the stories of the New St. butcher Joe Smith as he recalled old Kerry footballers as we sat by his fireside drinking soup made by his lovely wife Maggie. Joe walked from Killarney to Tralee in the 1940s to see the county championship games between Killarney Legion and Dick Fitzgeralds.
  19. Seeing a Kerry team beaten for the first time in the 1956 Munster final replay as Niall Fitzgerald kicked a last minute winning point at the entrance goal in Fitzgerald Stadium.
  20. Thumbing lifts to Killarney and Tralee from work in the Parknasilla Great Southern Hotel to see Kerry play.
  21. My first county hurling match in 1958 in Kenmare as Kerry very nearly shocked a star studded Waterford side who won 3-9 to 2-4. Johnny Culloty ( above) was the star in goal for Kerry.
  22. Mick O'Connell and Jim McKeever in opposition in the 1958 All Ireland semi-final. Derry won.
  23. Not believing the score when Waterford beat Kerry in the 1957 Munster championship.
  24. Playing in goal for the Kerry minors in the Munster final 50 years ago this year as Cork beat us. Team mates " Thorny" O'Shea, Ollie Kerins, Pat Dowling, Jack Whelan, Seamus Roche, Tom O'Conner (RIP), Alan Conway (RIP), Peter Hanley.
  25. Togging out in the Mental Hospital for that minor final and being overawed as we listened to the legendary John Joe Sheehy giving the pep talk before the game.
  26. Long hot summers of the fifties. Swimming in the Lakes of Killarney. Snaring rabbits in the Demense. Fishing in the Denagh River. No television. No DVD. No Radio Kerry. Charles Bucham Football Monthly. Watching the All Ireland on Path News at the pictures in The Casino Cinema.
  27. Lighting candles and serving mass for the Bishop of Kerry Rev Dr Moynihan and later in 1968 accepting the county championship cup for East Kerry, which he had presented to the board before his death.
  28. Uproar in Kerry 1954. Jackie Lyne dropped for the final as Meath hammered Kerry 1-13 to 1-7.
  29. Congress bans collective training following Kerry's 1953 win.
  30. A youthful acceptance of tradition and wonderment at "The Secrets Of Kerry".

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