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‘In April I was thinking, will I pack it in?’ – The remarkable redemption story of East Kerry’s unlikely No. 1

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In April, veteran goalkeeper James Devane was dropped for Spa’s crucial Intermediate Club Championship opener against Templenoe. Hurt by the decision, the 35-year-old teacher gave serious consideration to quitting football entirely.

Little did he know that just a few short months later he’d be in Austin Stack Park on county final day, standing between the sticks for the best team in Kerry.

Devane was a mainstay in an otherwise youthful East Kerry outfit who defeated Austin Stacks, Kerins O’Rahilly’s, Dingle and St Brendan’s en route to the final of the County Championship and on Sunday he played his part in a spectacular win over the holders, Dr Crokes. It was East Kerry’s first county final triumph since 1999.

The result capped an incredible turnaround for Devane, who went from surplus to requirements at his club to first choice for a supremely talented divisional selection in a matter of months. Could he have seen it coming?

“Nah,” he says, emphatically. “In April and May, I was thinking, ‘Will I pack it in?’ But I suppose I’d be stubborn enough that way. I wanted to get my place back.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser this week, Devane admitted that getting dropped for the Templenoe game “left a bit of sour taste”.

“I had a decision to make then. I had to either try and get my place back or I could have walked away. I suppose I stuck it out, and Sunday was a nice reward for that.”

Devane was subsequently reinstated as Spa’s No. 1 and his performances attracted the attention of East Kerry manager Jerry O’Sullivan, who included the experienced goalkeeper in his squad ahead of the first round of the championship in September.

What makes Devane’s redemption story all the more remarkable is the fact that despite being eligible to play for East Kerry for the majority of his career, 2019 marked his very first season as first choice keeper. The Spa native had previously served as back-up to Fossa’s Colin Myers in 2017 and Kilcummin’s Brendan Kealy in 2018.

And, as Devane himself is quick to point out, he may well have been wearing the No. 16 jersey again this year were it not for an untimely injury for last year’s Kerry minor keeper Marc Kelliher, who hails from Glenflesk.

“Marc, who is a very good goalkeeper, was injured there for a while at the start so I got to play the challenge matches. He was just a bit late coming back. It worked out well for me.

“It’s my first year starting with East Kerry – I played no football with East Kerry ever – so this is serious bonus territory.”

“Personally, it’s a bit surreal. It hasn’t sunk in properly yet but it’s a nice medal to have. There’s nothing stopping the younger fellas from winning three or four but for someone of my age, you’d probably take the one and be happy about it.”

East Kerry were slight underdogs heading into last weekend’s decider but they blitzed the four-in-a-row-chasing Crokes, eventually running out 2-14 to 1-7 winners. Reflecting on the match itself, Devane heaped praise on fellow Spa man Liam Kearney, a former All-Ireland-winning minor captain who has been dogged by injuries in recent years.

“Liam had a great game in midfield and that gave us a big platform to work off. We had them pinned back for a long time. Even though we were only up three points at half-time, I didn’t think we were under serious pressure. I thought they were going to put more pressure on our kickout, like they did against South Kerry, but on Sunday we were able to get the ball out.

“It’s a very young team but they’ve all won with the Kerry minors and with the Sem, so they’re just used to it. That’s the one major difference I see with a lot of the younger fellas coming through: instead of hoping to win, they just go out and expect to win. They’re all able to handle themselves as well. There’s no fear of them. And any time you have David Clifford on your team, you have a good chance.”

Clifford and co. will be back next year, as will the Crokes (Devane, half-joking, says that “they’ll never go away”), but what about Devane himself? Will he be back in the red and white (or white and red in his case) of East Kerry in 12 months’ time?

“Hopefully. I’m not retiring anyway, we’ll put it that way.”

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Possible return to campus for college students

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

The announcement by the Department of Education this week, that the Leaving Cert results will be issued on Friday, September 3, was followed by confirmation from the Central Applications Office that CAO Round 1 offers will be issued online, four days later on Tuesday, September 7 at 2pm.

This is about three weeks later than normal, although it is earlier than the 2020 dates. Coinciding with the release of these dates comes the news from Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, that it is the priority of Government to get college students back on campus for the 2021/2022 academic year. Because of the later issue of Leaving Cert results and CAO offers, this means that First Year students will start college a couple of weeks later than those who are returning to college in Second, Third and Fourth Year.

From the point of social distancing, the staggered start may be an advantage, as we will still be living with certain restrictions due to COVID-19. There are a number of contributing factors what will influence a safe and successful return to the college campus for students according to Minister Harris. They include the roll-out and take-up of vaccinations in the college-age cohort by September, the use of rapid testing on campus which has been run as a pilot in several universities this year, and a varied approach to face-to-face lectures. It is hoped that smaller classes, practicals and tutorials can be operated as before with social distancing while the larger lectures may need to be facilitated using a blended approach. It is also felt that if cafés, restaurants and bars are open everywhere else, there is no reason why they can’t open on campus. This of course is all based on vaccinations and public health guidelines.

ACCOMMODATION

A big concern for First Year students following the announcements is the fact that they will be looking for accommodation later than all other students. This is an issue every single year because when CAO offers are issued, many students get offers for colleges in locations where they have not secured accommodation. Naturally it is of particular concern to rural students and mirrors a greater societal shortage of accommodation. Minister Harris has also stated that he is bringing a proposal to Cabinet in the coming weeks to implement legislation which means that the owners of purpose-built student accommodation will only be allowed to charge rents a month in advance rather than insisting on payment of rent for half of the college year, something which has put enormous strain on students and their families over the years.
So, while any kind of certainty surrounding a return to ‘normal’ college life isn’t possible, it is both hopeful and exciting for new and returning college students to be able to look forward to the next college year with the prospect of getting to enjoy a real college experience and all that has to offer.

WEBINAR

I will be hosting a free webinar for Leaving Cert parents on June 16 at 7pm on ‘How to help your son/daughter with CAO Change of Mind and other career options’ ahead of the CAO deadline on July 1. 

To register see links on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: @mycareerplan or email me on info@mycareerplan.ie. 

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 Career Consultant. For details see www.mycareerplan.ie or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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Deadline for health and well-being fest fast approaching

Friday June 25, the closing date to register an interest in hosting an activity or event during the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, is fast approaching. This year’s #KerryMHWFest will run from October 9 to 16. It is held annually to highlight World Mental Health Day on October 10. Organised by an interagency […]

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Friday June 25, the closing date to register an interest in hosting an activity or event during the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, is fast approaching.

This year’s #KerryMHWFest will run from October 9 to 16. It is held annually to highlight World Mental Health Day on October 10.

Organised by an interagency steering group, the key focus of the Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest is to promote mental health and well-being in Kerry through a fun and interactive programme of events.

“The Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest aims to create awareness of, and schedule events that empower people to engage with the Five Ways to Well-being – Connect | Give | Take Notice | Keep Learning | Be Active – as well as raising awareness of the available supports and services in the county,” Chair of the Steering Committee, Donagh Hennebry, said.

“The Fest has a wide reach across Kerry and we want to continue to build on its success in 2021. But we can’t do this without you! We are inviting anyone who is interested in helping us achieve our goal, by hosting an event(s) during #KerryMHWFest, to register online as soon as possible.”

The organising committee is a collaboration between Connecting for Life Kerry, Healthy Kerry, Kerry County Council, the HSE, NEWKD, SKDP, Kerry Mental Health Association, Jigsaw Kerry, Munster Technological University/Kerry, and Kerry Volunteer Centre.

To register your interest to host an event for the 2021 Kerry Mental Health and Well-being Fest, visit www.healthykerry.ie before close of business on Friday, June 25.

For more information about registration, promotion, or the Fest in general, please contact the interagency steering group at: kerrymhwfest20@gmail.com.

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Free and subsidised higher education courses for Kerry

  11 free and subsidised higher education places have been announced for Kerry under the Springboard+ 2021 and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 initiatives. The courses, which open for applications today (Wednesday), will run at Munster Technological University Kerry. The courses on offer include a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy Management & Practice, a Certificate in […]

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11 free and subsidised higher education places have been announced for Kerry under the Springboard+ 2021 and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 initiatives. The courses, which open for applications today (Wednesday), will run at Munster Technological University Kerry.

The courses on offer include a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy Management & Practice, a Certificate in Retail Food Service Operations and a Postgraduate Diploma in Bioeconomy with Business.

Over 10,000 places are available across both programmes nationwide in 2021.

Springboard+ provides free courses for people who are unemployed, people who have taken time out of work or education to raise their families or care for loved ones, or people who want to upskill. Now in its 10th year, over 75,000 people have benefited from Springboard+ to date.

Courses under the HCI Pillar 1 programme are aimed at graduates and offer incentivised places for them to reskill in areas of skills shortage and emerging technologies. These are being run alongside, and complementary to, the Springboard+ offerings.

For those in employment, the Government will fund 90% of the cost of a Springboard+ or HCI Pillar 1 course. The programmes are managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.

Launching the programme, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD said, “As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, we will need to ensure that people have the skills they need”.

Helpline

Candidates who wish to participate will find full details on the approved courses on www.springboardcourses.ie. Experienced guidance counsellors will be available to advise potential Springboard+ and HCI Pillar 1 participants on their options on the freephone Springboard+ helpline: 1800 303 523. The helpline is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

 

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