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Who wants to captain Kerry?



Traditionally speaking, being named captain of Kerry is one of the greatest honours in Irish sport. In any given year you basically have a 68% chance of winning a Munster Championship, and a 28% chance of lifting the Sam McGuire Cup in September. Lead Kerry to glory and you join the likes of Ogie Moran, Páidí Ó Sé and Séamus Moynihan in the history books. Why would you not want the job?

Kerry are one of only two counties who still ask their reigning county champions to nominate a captain and while it could hardly be argued that the practice has been a hindrance on the balance of history, many observers (and players) have questioned aloud whether or not it’s time for a change. And not without good reason.

In the past five years or so the Kerry captaincy – and I say it reluctantly – has become something of a poisoned chalice (and not just because of Dublin’s irritating period of domination). Colm Cooper captained Kerry in 2013 and although that particular year ended in heartache, Gooch started in all and top-scored in three of the team’s five championship games.

It would be fair to say that it has not been plain sailing for Kerry captains since.

2014 to 2018
Dr Crokes ace Kieran O’Leary was handed the role in 2014 but he didn’t start in the championship. Clubmate Fionn Fitzgerald was captain on the field, although Leary did play a captain’s role off the bench in the semi-final against Mayo when he kicked a crucial point to force a replay. The Crokes pair subsequently accepted the Sam McGuire together after defeating Donegal in the decider so the year was far from disastrous for Leary, but he would naturally have preferred to feature more prominently.

Kieran Donaghy was named captain for 2015 on the back of Austin Stacks’ 2014 County Final triumph and the Tralee man started throughout the Munster Championship. Things turned sour, however, when he was dropped for Gooch in the All-Ireland quarter-final against Kildare. He was recalled for the semi-final versus Tyrone but he was whipped at half-time and the skipper relinquished his starting berth for the final, which Kerry lost to Dublin.

St Mary’s and South Kerry talisman Bryan Sheehan took the reins in 2016 but he suffered a similar fate to his predecessor. The dead ball expert started in Munster but lost his place for the All-Ireland series, only seeing 10-15 minutes of action against Clare in the quarters and Dublin in the semis.

Next up was Johnny Buckley and the tireless Crokes player is unique amongst Kerry captains of the past five years in that he actually started at the business end of the campaign. Buckley lined out at centre forward against Galway and both semi-finals against Mayo, although he was substituted at half-time in the replay. The following year the then-28-year-old stepped away from the Kerry set-up altogether due to work commitments.

Experienced corner back Fionn Fitzgerald took over the responsibility at the beginning of 2018 but he barely played at all apart from a couple of National League appearances in the spring. Rookie keeper Shane Murphy took the mantle and he led the side to Munster glory, but his year also ended in disappointment when he was dropped for the final two games of the Super 8s.

So, taking all of that into account, who actually wants to captain Kerry this year?

One thing we know for sure is that it will be a Crokes man again in 2019 as the latest motion to do away with the current system was defeated (again) at a recent convention.

Murphy is a good candidate; I thought he managed the role well in his debut season. But he will have to battle it out with Brian Kelly for the number one jersey and it’s impossible to tell at this juncture whom Peter Keane is likely to favour.

Gavin White, who filled in at the end of last season, seems like a natural choice simply because he was one of Kerry’s most consistent performers in 2018 and he should be a starter again this time out.

Micheál Burns, the other main candidate, grabbed national headlines late last year when he publicly questioned the tradition, saying that it might be “time to look for the most experienced and well-placed person”. Interestingly, he also said that being handed the captaincy in Murphy’s absence (against Galway in the league) had an adverse effect on his performance. Having said that, I’m sure he would gladly accept the honour if he gets the nod.

My understanding is that the Kerry players are generally in favour of changing the selection process, and I know that if I were Peter Keane I definitely wouldn’t want such a significant decision to be made on my behalf. And it is a significant decision. People talk down the importance of a captain but whenever I play I’m always very aware of who my captain is. A good captain can set the tone and provide inspiration in times of need, both on and off the pitch.

In the modern era we’re hyper-conscious of how fine the margins are between success and failure, so I find it staggering that we, as a county, are leaving anything to chance.

Don’t get me wrong, Shane, Gavin and Micheál are quality players and whoever gets the nod could well be a fantastic captain and leader for Kerry in 2019. But surely the manager is best placed to make that decision?

Traditions are nice and all but when it comes down to it we have to choose what’s more important: history or the future.

2018 Fionn Fitzgerald/Shane Murphy/Gavin White (Dr Crokes)
2017 Johnny Buckley (Dr Crokes)
2016 Bryan Sheehan (South Kerry)
2015 Kieran Donaghy (Austin Stacks)
2014 Kieran O’Leary/Fionn Fitzgerald (Dr Crokes)
2013 Colm Cooper (Dr Crokes)
2012 Colm Cooper (Dr Crokes)
2011 Colm Cooper (Dr Crokes)
2010 Bryan Sheehan (South Kerry)
2009 Darran O’Sullivan/Donnchadh Walsh (Mid Kerry)
2008 Tomás Ó Sé (An Ghaeltacht)
2007 Declan O’Sullivan (South Kerry)
2006 Declan O’Sullivan (South Kerry)
2005 Declan O’Sullivan South (Kerry)
2004 Dara Ó Cinnéide (An Ghaeltacht)
2003 Declan Quill/Mike McCarthy (Rahilly’s/Kilcummin)
2002 Darragh Ó Sé (An Ghaeltacht)
2001 Eoin Brosnan/Séamus Moynihan (Dr Crokes/Glenflesk)
2000 Séamus Moynihan (Glenflesk)

Pic: Matt Browne/Sportsfile


Possible return to campus for college students



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.


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.


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 

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 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 […]




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 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:

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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 […]





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”.


Candidates who wish to participate will find full details on the approved courses on 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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