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



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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The Irish investment market is pathetic

By Michael O’Connor,    I lived abroad for years, so all the investment strategies I created were typically outside of Irish tax considerations. But over the last few weeks I […]




By Michael O’Connor,   

I lived abroad for years, so all the investment strategies I created were typically outside of Irish tax considerations.

But over the last few weeks I have been putting together several investment strategies for Irish-domiciled clients. It has been eye-opening, to say the least.

In short, most of the Irish market appears to be dominated by a handful of life insurance companies that offer ‘wrapped’ Multi Asset Funds. This means they offer a basket of stocks, bonds, property etc., all within one investment.

Irish Life’s MAPs 4 multi-asset fund states a standard annual management charge of 1.15%. A bit on the higher side for my liking, but this is still manageable.

But when you dig a little deeper, the KID documents (where all fees have to be fully disclosed as part of UCITS regulations) show the fee as 2.2%.

Double the quoted price

As an added bonus, they lock your money up for seven years, where an early encashment charge is waiting for those who wish to withdraw their money early. That’s right, they charge YOU for making your money inaccessible.

This lock-up period is a shrewd business tactic. An exit charge is an excellent way to ensure customers don’t leave when they realise how poor the performance is.

Too late, you’re trapped.


Fees become more digestible provided the performance is strong, but unfortunately, the misery continues.

The Irish Life MAPS 4 Portfolio has an annual return of 1.63% a year over the last five years. Granted, this was a challenging market climate to navigate, but falling below even the lowest expectations of inflation means that this fund has returned negative real returns after inflation over the last five years.

A similar 60/40 portfolio made up of passive index funds (S&P 500 and US T bonds) would have returned roughly 6.5% a year over the same period for a fee of roughly 0.1%.

We can go round and round in circles regarding the ‘risk adjusted’ approach and the added ‘diversification’ of the multi-asset fund versus the 60/40 portfolio I have shown. But the reality is much of this so-called diversification is over-engineering for an extra cost for many long term investors.

So, how can such pathetic offerings still exist in a system where low-cost operators such as De Giro are providing endless ETF options and commission-free trades that provide access to market returns at a fraction of the price?

Two reasons spring to mind

Firstly, the Irish retail investment scene is built on a financial broker commission system where unsuspecting customers are shoved into these products by ‘financial planners’ who receive kickbacks and commissions from these investment companies. You think you’re getting free investment advice; believe me, you’re not.

Second, the tax treatment of ETF structures is comical in Ireland, and US ETFs aren’t even an investment option. A 41% exit tax and an eight-year deemed disposal rule leaves investors stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Choose an overpriced, underperforming product that locks your money away for multiple years or choose the cheaper, better-performing product and suffer the tax consequences.

Bizarrely, investors are forced to make decisions based on preferential tax treatment rather than on the underlying investment’s merits.

I have gone into much more detail on the tax treatment and investment options in Ireland on my website. Just scan the QR code.

If you would like me to independently review your investment portfolio, just send me an email at


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Rebel lights delight for Killarney star

By Con Dennehy The continued growth, development and participation of women’s handball in East Kerry was rewarded at the weekend when Cork hosted ‘She’s Ace’, the prestigious All Ladies Handball […]




By Con Dennehy

The continued growth, development and participation of women’s handball in East Kerry was rewarded at the weekend when Cork hosted ‘She’s Ace’, the prestigious All Ladies Handball championships.

Attracting all the leading players in Ireland, it was Sarah Dineen, the Spa/Killarney player who shot out the Rebel lights in Conna with a phenomenal display of handball.

Competing in the highly competitive Ladies Challenger championship, the Killarney player, who took up the sport just 18 months ago, had the perfect start in the competition defeating the home town favourite Agnes Hurley from Conna on a 21-20 scoreline following an energy sapping and close encounter that hung in the balance to the final ace.

In her second game she took on the challenge of Nolwenn Even from St Brigids where her skill, superior fitness and movement on the court resulted in the 21-12 victory and a place in the prestigious final.

“The final was always going to be a difficult game not least playing local girl Kate O’Riordan from Conna. I concentrated on my serve and kill shots which ensured we shared the aces early in the game. It was a difficult game with the home supporters out in force to cheer on their local hero. However, I played well and secured a 21-11 victory. This was the second time this title came to Spa Killarney following the 2022 win by Aoife Walsh in Northern Ireland,” said Sarah, who is currently chairperson of the Killarney Camogie Club.

A native of Westmeath, Sarah (46) runs a jewellery business in Killarney and lives in Rathmore. No stranger to competitive sport she played camogie for Westmeath and Leinster and also won an Intermediate championship Gaelic football medal in Westmeath.


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