Former Killarney Celtic defender and current senior manager Brian Spillane picks a fantasy team made up of the best Celts he has ever played with.
GK - Roy Kelliher
Roy is a quiet lad on and off the pitch but his qualities are there for everyone to see. He’s fearless and he comes for everything, and he’s also a great shot-stopper. The thing with Roy is that the bigger the game is, the better he plays.
RB - Alan Nagle
Alan was really calm under pressure and he never let the team down. He had a fantastic first touch and great quality going forward – he was one of the few players in Kerry who could get the ball and go past three or four players. He didn’t always have the finish to go with it, though!
CB - David Hayes
The best defender I ever played with. David was excellent in the air and he could control the backline. He was a good ball-carrier as well. He knew how to break lines and open up the opposition.
CB - John McDonagh
John McDonagh, better known as Smiley, is our current club captain. He’s very good with the younger players. The fact that he’s left-legged is also a bonus as it adds great balance to the back four. The man has won seven league medals, which says it all really.
LB - Brendan Falvey
Mr Celtic. You always get 100% commitment from Brendan Falvey. He’s the best trainer at the club. He’s very competitive and an absolute warrior, especially in the big games. Heart in the mouth stuff when he slides into tackles!
DM - Matt Keane
This guy has an amazing passing ability. He always wants the ball and he controls a lot of games. Matt is a box-to-box midfielder and he follows the play everywhere. He has a great engine – he just never stops running.
DM - John Doyle
When it came to soccer, the late John Doyle had it all. He wasn’t the tallest but he was brilliant in the air, he always picked the right pass and he scored so many vital goals when his team needed them the most. A born leader on the field but, above all else, a great man.
RM - Stephen Hayes
Nickamed Helmer, Stephen has always been a very underrated player in my book. Blessed with pace, he would have been the main outlet for us on many occasions. He’s very versatile and could play any role for the team. He has had a long career with Celtic and Kerry in the Oscar Traynor Cup and he’s still playing and coaching. A great clubman.
AM - Gary Keane
There’s not too much you can say about Gary that hasn’t been said before. I’ve been involved with soccer in Kerry my whole life and he is without a doubt the best player I’ve ever played with. He does the work of two players and he’s unbelievable on the ball.
LM - Jimmy Falvey
The late Jimmy ‘Grimble’ Falvey was a very busy footballer. Similar to his younger brother, Brendan, in that he never pulled out of a tackle. I certainly wouldn’t fancy playing on the right-hand side of the opposition’s team with the two Falveys on the left! He always covered a lot of ground and would provide great support to the full back, while also offering a lot going forward.
ST - Peter McCarthy
Peter was the most professional player I have ever seen. He was always the first to training and the last to leave. He never stopped working on his game so it was no mystery when he popped up with winning goals. He would still score 30-plus goals a season if he was playing now.
Subs - Vladimir Sirotiak, Pa McGrath and Jamie Spillane
Managers - Karl McMahon and Noel Brosnan
Karl and Noel have managed and been involved with many a Celtic side down through the years. They were always fully committed to the senior team and are great supporters to this day. They both have a lot of respect for each other and they get on very well, which is vital in any management team. Sorry Noel. It’s a tough job but someone has to mind Karl!
James O’Donoghue retires from intercounty football
by Adam Moynihan
Former Player of the Year and two-time All-Star James O’Donoghue has announced his retirement from intercounty football.
The Killarney Legion forward stepped away from Peter Keane’s panel in 2021 to focus on club football, leading to speculation surrounding his future in the green and gold.
O’Donoghue has not featured under new manager Jack O’Connor and today, speaking to Off The Ball, he confirmed that he had actually privately retired last year.
“It’s all over, it’s all over bar the shouting,” the 31-year-old said.
“Last year, I was fighting an uphill battle. Realistically, I stepped away from the panel just before the going got very serious because I wasn’t really contributing. I told them at that stage that I was retiring but because Kerry were going too well, we decided not to put out a statement and throw all the good vibes out of the camp. So we just kept it under wraps.
“It’s a painful one, it’s definitely something that’s going to be hard, but it’s the right thing.”
Although he had initially resigned himself to stepping away for good, O’Donoghue did admit that he tried to get himself right for another cut under Jack O’Connor.
“I know Jack well, very well and have always got on great with him, and I know that if I was right, I could have picked up the phone and rang him and said ‘I’m thinking about changing my mind, what do you think?’
“I actually did give a go at getting into very good nick for it, just to see if I could give it one last go, but do you know what – my body wasn’t up to it, just that the way it is. I’ll go back to the club now, tailor my programme and I guarantee you that I might not see another injury, just the slight drop in intensity might suit me.
“If I was right I could have picked up the phone and we’d have had a chat, but it just didn’t feel right.”
O’Donoghue was speaking on The Football Pod, the OTB podcast which he will now host alongside Paddy Andrews and Tommy Rooney.
Despite his battles with injuries, the Killarney native enjoyed a memorable career for The Kingdom. After making his league debut in 2010, he soon became a key figure in Kerry’s forward division and was integral when Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s side won the 2014 All-Ireland final against Donegal.
Killarney girls prepared for Munster final duel
U16 Munster League Final
Killarney RFC v Ennis
Saturday at 1pm
The Killarney RFC U16 girls’ team are heading for Limerick today (Saturday) hoping to cap a magnificent season with a trophy.
This talented group of players, many of whom are new to the sport, have taken on all comers en route to the decider and now Ennis stand between them and provincial glory.
Even reaching the final is a great achievement for the Aghadoe-based club. Coach Diarmuid O’Malley says his charges will need to find “another level” to get over the line.
“We have seen [Ennis] play on a couple of occasions this season and what’s clear is that they have being together for many years,” O’Malley said. “We again will need to step it up to another level in order to be able to compete effectively against them.
“I look back on the success of the Limerick hurling team when they reached the All-Ireland final in 2018, not many gave them much of a chance at the time. The common theme was that “it’s a young team and their time will come”. They not only took the opportunity in 2018 but have since won three out of the last four All-Irelands.
“Finals are all about being present, patient and taking your opportunity, and not letting the occasion get to you. These girls have a great approach to everything they have done in the most challenging environment this year in the current global circumstances.
“It’s going to be one hell of a battle against a very good Ennis team and they are very much favoured to win, but nothing is beyond this capable bunch of Killarney girls.”
If Killarney are to cause an upset, their defence will be key.
“We have had a phenomenal run to get to the final and all through the journey the girls have not compromised on the quality of the rugby they are playing. The most pleasing aspect of our semifinal win against Bruff was keeping them to zero as we have put huge emphasis on our defence all season.
“We will very much approach the final versus Ennis in the same way.”
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