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The Secret Kerry Footballer: I know hurlers are mad but cancelling Christmas is a step too far

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Writing exclusively for the Killarney Advertiser, The Secret Kerry Footballer reveals what’s really going on inside the GAA

Hurlers are mad. I was standing next to Jackie Tyrrell at some launch up in Croke Park a few years ago and while we were hanging around for our photo to be taken, I decided to strike up a conversation. Just to be nice, like.

“Well Jackie. How’s the form?”

“What do ya mean by that?!” he snapped, his eyes widening. “I know I wasn’t at the races against Tipp. I know that more than any man!”

By this stage, his nose was touching mine.

“Jesus, relax boy,” I said. “I’m only here to sell a bit of protein milk.”

“Believe you me, I’ll be back,” he growled through gritted teeth. “We’ll be back. Ye’ll rue the day ye ever wrote off Kilkenny!” Then he ripped off his Avonmore t-shirt and sprinted off down the tunnel under the Hogan Stand.

I turned and made eye contact with Cillian O’Connor, who was only a young fella at the time. He was rightly shook by the whole thing. There’s a joke to be made there about Mayo footballers in Croke Park but that’d be easy pickings.

Much like the Mayo footballers in Croke Park.

Kilkenny won the All-Ireland the following year and Tyrrell was immense. When he got his hands on the Liam McCarthy, he turned and glared into the nearest TV camera and put his finger to his lips. “He has silenced his critics,” Ger Canning exclaimed. Cillian texted me and asked if it was aimed at me. It probably was.

The point of my story is that hurlers are mad. I know this from dealing with them (from a safe distance) for many years. But I was still shocked by Austin Gleeson’s recent comments about cancelling Christmas. The Waterford hurler said that he has always enjoyed his Christmases but this year he has made a “conscious decision” to not do that so he can train and be ready for next season. Lads. A conscious decision to not enjoy Christmas. Have you ever heard the like?

Even the German and British soldiers in World War I took a break from shooting each other’s heads off on Christmas Day. But no, that’s not good enough for Austin Gleeson.

If Austin Gleeson was on the front line on Christmas Day, 1914, he would have spent his morning analysing the other army’s likely formations and his afternoon doing the beep test. And the lads having the craic out in no man’s land.

No beer for Christmas. Lord God. The way the GAA has gone, alcohol is effectively banned for 95% of the year as it is. And now they want to take Christmas off us as well? As a footballer in Kerry, the festive season is the only time you can safely go on the lash without fear of repercussions. If you go out drinking at any stage from January to November, there’s a decent chance you’ll look across the bar and see some auld lad judging you from behind his pint. There’ll be nothing verbal but he’ll tell you with his eyes. “Ye’ve a game on Sunday.” Yeah. Good man.

Of course, the irony of it all is that back in the auld lad’s day, beer bans didn’t even exist. He might have been advised to stay away from the top shelf the night before a county final but that was about the size of it.

Our club secretary caught me flooring Sambucas in Mustang’s one night before an O’Donoghue Cup semi-final and he had a right cut off me. Very high and mighty stuff altogether. I contemplated putting the head down and taking my bollocking but then he brought up what I allegedly did on that Kerry trip to Orlando. I had to say something.

“My father told me that when you played, you were encouraged to go drinking the night before a match because there was no way a hangover could make you any worse.”

I wasn’t long quietening him. And we won the following day as well.

To be fair, Paul Murphy scored 1-4 off me and I was whipped at half-time. But look, it’s a team game.

 

Illustration: Adam Moynihan.

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Ireland’s newest and toughest cycle will be a thrilling challenge

Ireland’s newest cycling event comes to Kenmare this month with an exciting and challenging course for the experienced cyclist. Already attracting attention within cycling communities around the country, Velo Kenmare […]

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Ireland’s newest cycling event comes to Kenmare this month with an exciting and challenging course for the experienced cyclist.

Already attracting attention within cycling communities around the country, Velo Kenmare will tackle some of Kerry’s toughest climbs and highest mountain passes.

Taking place on October 22, Velo Kenmare is an 135km timed loop route starting and finishing in Kenmare. The total climbing distance is 1,650m, and organisers hope to appeal to serious cyclists who are looking for a new and thrilling challenge.

No stranger to cycling events, Velo Kenmare is being managed by Elite Events Management, who also successfully deliver iconic cycling events Wicklow 200, Ride Dingle and the Ring of Beara Cycle.
Cyclists are encouraged to register for Velo Kenmare on the Velo Cycle Ireland website www.velocycleireland.ie but places are limited for the enjoyment and safety of all participants, and anyone interested is urged to sign up soon as places are filling up.

TOUGH CLIMBS

​​​​The tough enough mountain climbs are over Molls Gap, Ballaghbeama Pass, Ballaghasheen and Coomakista. The route will take in breathtaking scenery Kenmare is famous for, and incorporating some of the most stunning parts of the Wild Atlantic Way and Ring of Kerry. It is hoped visitors to the cycle event will be encouraged to stay for a few days, and will all be given €20 vouchers or ‘Velo Dollars’ to spend in local shops which will be redeemable against goods and services in Kenmare.

Riders will be allotted a time slot to allow for a staggered start, taking them along a fully marshalled route, with medical cover, bike mechanic support, and hot food and entertainment at the finish in Kenmare.

Making its mark, Velo Kenmare participant race packs will come inside a yellow Velo Kenmare water bottle and finishers’ medals are in the shape of a yellow cow bell. Prizes will be awarded for the quickest top three male and top three female finishers, and fastest male and female will be awarded the title of King and Queen of the Kerry Mountains.

Experienced cyclists are encouraged to take on this exciting new challenge, testing themselves and their clubmates for the fastest finish across these four gruelling climbs, through some of the most beautiful landscape in the country for the best welcome back at the finish.

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Additional Flat fixture for Killarney Races next week

Horse Racing Ireland has announced there will be an additional Flat Meeting at Killarney next Monday (October 10). This meeting will close for entries by 12 noon this Wednesday (October […]

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Horse Racing Ireland has announced there will be an additional Flat Meeting at Killarney next Monday (October 10).

This meeting will close for entries by 12 noon this Wednesday (October 5) with declarations to run to be made by 10am this Saturday (October 8).

The race programme details for this fixture are on the HRI RAS website www.hri.ie.

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