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Away Days: The long trip to Edendork with Kerry’s most loyal supporters

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Animals. Cute hoors. Fair weather fans. Whatever way you look at it, followers of Kerry’s senior football team have a reputation. Last Sunday, Adam Moynihan joined a busload Kerry fans on the 924km, 12-hour round trip to Tyrone to find out the truth about the county’s most passionate supporters

The taxi driver bringing me to O’Callaghan’s bus depot offers little by way of encouragement. It’s 5am on a dark and miserable Sunday morning and I’ve just told him that I’m heading to Omagh for the National League Division 1 match between old rivals Tyrone and Kerry.

“Jesus, that’s an awful jaunt,” he says, almost in disbelief. “And sure, that game mightn’t go ahead at all.”

He’s right. Storm Ciara is in full effect and the wind and rain that is currently battering his vehicle from all angles is due to continue well into the afternoon and possibly beyond. A pitch inspection will take place later in the morning and there’s a decent chance that the fixture, which is scheduled for 2pm, will be called off.

Of course by that point, many Kerry supporters, myself and my fellow passengers included, will already be halfway up the country.

“Good luck to you,” he says very earnestly as we reach our destination. “I hope we win.”

THE JOURNEY

The coach is comprised of 17 men, women and children, many of whom are season ticket holders who regularly travel to Kerry’s away matches with O’Callaghan’s, and, because of the length of the journey, two drivers. Our pilots Con and Connie explain that a larger bus would usually be required but the weather and the distance may have deterred some people on this particular occasion.

Those who weren’t put off are in fine form. As the bus pulls out of the coach yard, a woman recognises a fellow passenger from a previous trip. “We’re mad to be going up today,” she says with a smile. “This is about the earliest we’ve ever been out,” the man replies. Their tone is polite and casual, but you can hear the pride in their voices. Almost everyone in the entire county would sooner be (and is) wrapped up in bed. For these loyal football fans, there’s nowhere else they’d rather be.

Before we reach Castleisland, the previous weekend’s victory over Galway has been well and truly dissected and by the time we reach the county bounds there isn’t a footballer on the Kerry panel who hasn’t been analysed to within an inch of his life. The fans are mostly positive and understanding, although criticism is meted out too where appropriate. I’m impressed by their knowledge of Kerry football, which can only be described as encyclopaedic.

At around 8am, as the first hint of daylight creeps over the horizon, excitement about today’s match is building. But now the issue of whether or not there will even be a match comes sharply into view. “They’ll hardly call it off now,” someone offers, before being reminded of Inniskeen in 2018.

Kerry were due to play Monaghan in the league almost two years ago to the day but heavy snow forced officials to cancel the game at the last minute. Frustratingly, the O’Callaghan bus was at the Red Cow roundabout in Dublin when the news broke. They had no choice but to turn back and head for home.

With no confirmation forthcoming from either county board, the prospect of history repeating itself looms large.

We stop for full Irish breakfasts at Junction 14, a service station off the M7 in Monasterevin, Co. Kildare. Calling here (or to Barack Obama Plaza in Moneygall, Co. Offaly) is a rite of passage for any travelling Kerry supporter heading to a match in Dublin or further north.

An hour later, at around 9.20am, we’re passing by Dundalk when we finally get some white smoke. Healy Park in Omagh is flooded but the match will go ahead at an alternate venue. Great. Now where in the name of God is Edendork?

The sudden appearance of a multitude of Union Jacks lets us know that we have now left the European Union. We drive through the heart of Armagh and cross into Tyrone, motoring through the village of Moy along the way. Moy is the home parish of Tyrone footballer-turned-pundit Seán Cavanagh, who in 2019 controversially described Kerry supporters as “animals”. Unfortunately, Seán is not on hand to watch the zoo roll into town, and on we power to nearby Edendork.

We arrive at the pitch well before throw-in. We’re slow to venture out into the driving rain but when an Edendork official invites us up to the clubhouse for tea and biscuits, we disembark. Upstairs we meet the families of the Kerry players and some fellow supporters who have made the long journey up by car.

 

Down at ground level, at around ten past one, a local youngster is standing with his friends by the players’ entrance. “I can’t believe we’re going to see David Clifford,” he says as he giddily readies his camera. When Clifford appears, the boy resists the urge to approach his hero and instead snaps a photo from a respectful distance. It is the last bit of a restraint a Tyrone man would show around Clifford for the rest of the day.

 

 

THE MATCH

The match itself is almost as tough for the supporters as it is for the players. The violent wind blows the rain sideways from the scoreboard end down the pitch and through the terraces, as the soaking wet playing surface is quickly cut up by 30 pairs of boots.

With the wind at their backs, Kerry build up a first-half lead but Tyrone, cheered on by a boisterous home crowd, claw it back in the second thanks in no small part to Edendork players Niall Morgan and Darren McCurry. Mickey Harte’s side win by a single point.

We trudge back to the bus cold, wet and defeated but all things considered, the mood is still fairly positive. “There’s a long year there yet,” a wise head says, and we all nod in agreement.

I sleep for a good portion of the journey home.

As I drift off, those around me are talking about football. When I awake a few hours later, they’re still talking about football. They probably talked about football in the car home, and when they got out of bed the next morning there’s a good chance they talked about football again.

We pull into Killarney around half 10 and the only thing on my mind is my bed. The others, however, are already speaking in excited tones about the trip to Monaghan on March 15.

Fair weather fans? Not on this bus. Cute hoors? A few, perhaps. Animals? The people I travelled to Tyrone with the last day are some of the fiercest Kerry supporters around, and they are as decent and as knowledgeable as anyone you could ever hope to meet.

Far from animals, but certainly a different breed of football fan.

 

Pics: Adam Moynihan. To see more, check out Adam's Instagram page.

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Jobs to keep gardeners busy

The weather is glorious at the moment, so I thought I would put together some jobs to keep every gardener busy! Winter bedding is now available – so plant up containers and pots to keep everything cheerful this winter! Conifers such as Goldcrest and Elwoodiis are an excellent choice for a centrepiece, as are Cordylines, […]

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The weather is glorious at the moment, so I thought I would put together some jobs to keep every gardener busy!

Winter bedding is now available – so plant up containers and pots to keep everything cheerful this winter! Conifers such as Goldcrest and Elwoodiis are an excellent choice for a centrepiece, as are Cordylines, Phormiums and topiary plants such as Buxus and Bay laurels. Heathers give colour all winter, as do ornamental cabbages. Winter pansies, violas and Batchelor’s buttons are all in stock now, and will provide colour for months, Cyclamen are beautiful – but beware! They do not like getting too wet, so ideally use them in pots and window boxes which do not get too much rain.

Bulbs provide a welcome splash of colour in the early spring, at a time when things are looking grey and grim. Choose from an extensive range – tulips, daffs, crocus, snowdrops – to name but a few. Planting mixtures of different varieties can lead to stunning displays in a pot, for example, plant in layers: tulips at the bottom, then daffs, hyacinth, crocus and anenomes for a long lasting pot of colour. In the garden plant bulbs in informal clusters of uneven numbers to give a natural looking display. Alliums are particularly trendy at the moment, these ornamental onions are available in pinks, white and yellow.

PRUNING

Pruning is one of those jobs which can give immense satisfaction. All old flower heads, the straggly growth of herbaceous plants and branches of unkempt shrubs can go into the compost heap. Pruning equipment can be confusing for the new gardener, so here are a few guidelines: there are two types of secateurs, bypass and anvil. The anvil secateurs is used for dead wood, but the bypass secateurs can be used for live as well as dead wood. The hedge shears are used to prune large shrubs or hedges, but is best for soft or thin growth. Loppers are used to prune trees and thicker branches and have long handles. These also come as anvil or bypass. Some of these are geared, these take the strain and strength needed out of the job, an excellent invention!

As the days get shorter and wetter, moss will start to grow again. Treat paths before they get slippy, with a product such as MossOff. Try to keep fallen leaves off lawns as they contribute to poor growth of grass and strong moss growth. A leafblower makes the job easy – especially a cordless one!

Lawns benefit from a final treatment in the autumn with a product such as an Autumn Lawn Feed and Weed or Viano Recovery from the producers of MO Bacter. These products both treat the roots of the grass, making the plant itself stronger for the winter. They do not cause excessive growth.

Finally, if there are empty beds in your vegetable garden, consider sowing a green manure such as winter rye or red clover. These will prevent weeds from taking over as well as enriching the soil with nitrogen. In the spring they can be cut down and dug into the soil, providing essential organic matter.

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Take the stress out of a career change

By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors People change career for a variety of reasons. For some people the desire to change comes from feeling unfulfilled or stressed in a current role or the need for more flexibility and autonomy as circumstances in your personal life evolve. Other people are prompted […]

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By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors

People change career for a variety of reasons. For some people the desire to change comes from feeling unfulfilled or stressed in a current role or the need for more flexibility and autonomy as circumstances in your personal life evolve.

Other people are prompted to change because of ambition to develop professionally, the desire for more meaning or purpose, job security or to earn more money.

Whether career change is forced upon you through organisational restructuring or is an active choice you are making, it can bring a mix of emotions. Among them is the fear and a lack of confidence on how to navigate the change effectively and the feeling of overwhelm associated with not knowing where to start. Conversely, it can be a time of great excitement about the possibility of taking on a new (and maybe very different) role or opportunity. Either way, drawing up a career action plan that breaks down the process into manageable tasks will help to ease any stress associated with career change and save you time and energy in the long run.

UNLOCKING YOUR POTENTIAL

Start by thinking about where you are now and where you would like to be – what are your priorities and non-negotiables and what are the practicalities you need to consider? To dig deeper do a self-assessment audit of your transferable skills and competencies, your career values and character strengths. Journal your career change journey by recording anything interesting you find out about yourself or career areas you are interested in. Some people like the idea of drawing up a career vision board as part of the process. Set clear goals and a specific timeline for yourself. As you gain more clarity, write out what your ideal job specification might look like, this will guide your job search. Explore options to up-skill or retrain if you feel this is helpful or necessary. Do a spring clean of your CV so that it reflects you accurately and favourably. Reach out to people in your network who may be able to assist you as you navigate this transition. Think about possible side projects you could work on to explore different areas before taking a big leap. Set up or update your LinkedIn profile, it is an important part of career development. Practice interview skills, you want to be able to perform confidently when they come around. Think about this process as unlocking the potential of your ‘career brand’ so that you and prospective employers have a strong sense of who you are professionally, what you value and what you bring to the workplace. Doing this work will enable you to approach your job search and career change with renewed confidence. It will take some time but it will be worth it!

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Careers Advisor – For details see www.mycareerplan.ie or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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