Upgrades are needed at the Fitzgerald Stadium. A cursory glance around the famous old ground makes that abundantly clear. The good news is that ‘The Park’ is apparently set for a €72 million revamp at some point in the future. Realistically, though, we could be talking years before work begins.
In the meantime, there’s one quick and easy way to improve the stadium, and it won’t cost millions to do it.
We should name both ends of the ground after legends of Kerry GAA.
At present we have a stand and a terrace, both named after prominent figures from the neighbouring Dr Crokes club.
The O’Sullivan Stand was erected in the 1970s in honour of Dr Eamonn O’Sullivan, a revolutionary trainer who guided Kerry to eight All-Irelands across five decades.
On the other side of the ground, we have the O’Connor Terrace. It was named after Michael O’Connor, a highly-regarded administrator who was appointed as chairman of the Munster Council in 1986.
In his book ‘My Beautiful Obsession’, the great Weeshie Fogarty suggests that O’Connor would have become Kerry’s first GAA president were it not for his untimely death in 1991.
The O’Connor Terrace wraps around both ends of the pitch (partially at one end and fully at the other) but, in reality, these ends are never really referred to as the O’Connor Terrace.
Everyone present on a matchday – fans, players, officials, and the media – needs another way of referring to those ends so various informal names have emerged.
If you find yourself somewhere in the middle of the terrace on Saturday when Kerry play Mayo, look to your left. This end is often referred to as the ‘Town End’. But Killarney Town, as the crow flies, is directly over the O’Sullivan Stand. You can get to town by exiting the end to the left, of course, but you can get to town by exiting the other end too.
This end to the left is also sometimes referred to as the ‘Dressing Room End’, which is logical as the dressing rooms are located beneath this part of the terrace. It is also known as the ‘Lewis Road End’, which makes sense as Lewis Road runs parallel to that particular side of the stadium.
From your vantage point on the terrace, the end to your right is most commonly known as the ‘Dalton’s Avenue End’. This is where things get confusing. Fitzgerald Stadium is surrounded on two sides by a housing estate that is subdivided into different sections. You have Dalton’s Avenue, Marian Terrace, St Brendan’s Place and Torc Terrace neighbouring The Park, with O’Kelly’s Villas and Bishop Moynihan’s Crescent a little further away.
Most of Dalton’s Avenue, to the best of my knowledge, runs parallel to the back of the O’Sullivan Stand – it’s not at the end to the right at all. The row of small houses that you can see around the back of the stadium at this end are part of Torc Terrace. So, really, it should be the ‘Torc Terrace End’ – although I’ve never heard it referred to as such.
Of course, it is alternatively, and more precisely, called the ‘Scoreboard End’.
With all that in mind, in the interest of tidying things up for everyone, surely it would be beneficial to bestow the ends with official titles?
If we were to go down the road of naming them after individuals, just as Kerry GAA did with the O’Sullivan Stand and the O’Connor Terrace, we certainly have no shortage of potential candidates.
It is definitely a nice touch to name things after individuals who are no longer with us but, personally, I think it’s even nicer when people get their recognition when they’re still around.
What about renaming the ‘Scoreboard End’ the ‘O’Dwyer End’, in honour of the great Micko who won 12 All-Irelands with Kerry as a player and manager? Waterville, his home village, is roughly that direction.
(Unfortunately, this end of the stadium isn’t much to look at right now but it would surely be a priority if and when any redevelopment does take place.)
And with three Crokes men already remembered at the stadium (O’Sullivan, O’Connor and Dick Fitzgerald), perhaps it would be appropriate to honour a Legion man too?
The ‘Culloty End’ has a nice ring to it, and it would be a fitting tribute to local man Johnny who represented Kerry with distinction in hurling and football. He won five All-Irelands with the senior footballers before going on to train the team and serve as a selector for many years.
In fact, he once lived on Lewis Road, so renaming the 'Lewis Road End' in his honour would be the perfect fit.
You can make a case for many other Kerry legends, of course. But, to my mind, few could be more deserving than Mick O’Dwyer and Johnny Culloty.
Fossa on cusp of history as club from ‘nine square miles’ eyes senior status
Kerry IFC Final
Fossa v Milltown/Castlemaine
Austin Stack Park
Never before in the history of Kerry football has an Intermediate final attracted so much attention.
On Sunday, two clubs go head-to-head with a trophy and promotion on the line – but this high-profile encounter has far more riding on it than that.
In fact, the consequences of the outcome of this second-tier decider are going to be massive. If Fossa win, they will graduate to senior for the first time in their 53-year existence. It would represent a monumental achievement for the club from the small parish to the northwest of Killarney; few, if any, believed it would ever be possible given their lowly standing as recently as a few years ago.
With two generational talents at their disposal in the form of the Clifford brothers from Two Mile, they have rapidly risen through the ranks. Now they are seeking their second successive promotion following on from last year’s extra time win over Listry in the Junior Premier final.
And if the idea of Fossa going out on their own in the Kery Senior Football Championship wasn’t intriguing enough on its own, there’s more. A Fossa win would mean that East Kerry, winners of four of the last five titles, would lose their Fossa contingent for 2024. Most notable amongst that cohort are Paudie and David Clifford, unquestionably the district’s two most influential players.
There is plenty of intrigue from Milltown/Castlemaine’s perspective too. The Mid Kerry side are aiming to get back to senior level for the first time since being relegated in 2016 following defeat to Kilcummin in a playoff. They were not considered to be amongst the frontrunners for this competition before a ball was kicked, and possibly not after the group stage either, so victory this weekend would be sweet.
Of course, a Milltown/Castlemaine win would also have a huge bearing on the 2024 County Championship. Mid Kerry (runners-up in 2020, 2022 and 2023) stand to lose five starters if Milltown are promoted: Pa Wrenn, David Roche, Gavin Horan, Cillian Burke and Éanna O’Connor. Such a loss would greatly weaken their hand and widen the gap that already exists between them and the reigning champions. Add to that the fact that East Kerry will keep the Cliffords if Milltown/Castlemaine win, and the significance of this game is magnified further still.
There is so much at stake for all the invested parties in East and Mid Kerry, and there is plenty to consider for the neutral fan as well. Many would welcome the weakening of East Kerry’s squad as it would potentially lead to a more competitive County Championship. However, there is serious concern amongst Kerry supporters that the Cliffords are in need of a rest after a long couple of years with club and county. If Fossa prevail they will advance to the Munster Championship and possibly beyond if they manage to keep on winning. This would likely interfere with their star players’ off-season.
There’s no doubt that the nature of Fossa’s matches to date have whetted the appetite for this final. They were involved in exhilarating extra time victories over Castleisland and Austin Stacks in the previous rounds and more excitement of that nature would be more than welcome after a largely disappointing County Championship.
Milltown/Castlemaine also bring plenty to the table and although the momentum from their own semi-final heroics against Legion may have dwindled somewhat over the many weeks between then and now, they can certainly take heart from that result against one of the pre-tournament favourites.
It’s all set up to be a fascinating match-up and a large crowd is expected in Tralee for this one.
The match will also be streamed live by Clubber.
Home double header for St Paul’s and Scotts Lakers
The St Paul’s women’s and men’s teams are both in National League action this Saturday at Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre with their games tipping off at 4.30pm and 7.30pm respectively.
James Fleming’s ladies take on the Phoenix Rockets on the back of that disappointing cup exit at the hands of the Cavan Eagles a fortnight ago and they will be keen to get back to winning ways on home turf.
Paul’s have a perfect 100% record in Division 1 but they are sure to be tested by the Rockets, who gave a fine account of themselves over the course of the 2022/23 season.
They beat Paul’s in Lisburn last February, though the Killarney side exacted revenge in the playoffs in March. The Rockets have made an inconsistent start to the 2023/24 campaign picking up just two wins from the seven games played. The second of those victories came as recently last Saturday when they got the better of the Limerick Sport Eagles at home, but they fell to another defeat against the Huskies back up north the following day.
The Rockets are coached by former Ireland player Breda Dick, a woman who cites Killarney’s own Paudie O’Connor as her role model. Paudie was her first coach at international level and obviously left a huge mark on Breda.
Dick will be looking to the McGrath sisters Charly and Georgie to carry the torch for them as well as American signing Jay Ashby.
For Paul’s, Khiarica Rasheed has been building a good understanding with Sofia Paska and they will be keen to work on that partnership again on Saturday. In the absence of Lorraine Scanlon, who will be attending the LGFA All-Stars, Meabh Barry may be pushed up the ladder. Lynn Jones and Rheanne O’Shea will also be expected to play prominent roles.
Under the guidance of Coach Brian Clarke, Scotts Lakers have established a winning record of 4-2 and as a result they find themselves fifth out of 12 teams in Division 1 of the National League.
They claimed their latest win at home to the Dublin Lions last weekend (81-71) with Americans Braden Bell (26) and Terion Moss (25) accounting for the bulk of the scoring. Jamie O’Sullivan, Oisín Spring and Cian Forde also made their mark on the scoreboard.
Coach Brian Clarke was very pleased with the contribution of his subs on the night. “Our bench was ready to come on and make the difference and I can’t emphasis enough the importance of that,” he told club PRO Enda Walshe.
“Braden and Terion are great shot-makers but they also have a sharp eye for passes to their teammates. Oisín Spring, and Paul Clarke in previous games, are alive to that and make themselves available. It’s a great opportunity for our young players to make their mark and provided they continue to dedicate themselves to their craft, they will get to enjoy that.”
Next up for the Lakers is the visit of the Limerick Celtics on Saturday. The Shannonsiders are currently second in Division 1 having won five of their six matches to date.
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