Adam Moynihan speaks to sharpshooting Gaelic footballer Evan Cronin about staying fit, Spa’s senior aspirations, and the critics who are trying to split East Kerry
Hi Evan. How have you been coping with the latest lockdown? Are you staying fit?
Ah yeah, I’m tipping away at home. I have a home gym so I do a good bit there, and I’m doing my 5Ks.
How are the 5Ks going?
Not too bad. Niall Mahony is the man for the 5Ks. He’s the one we’re trying to keep up with. He might be old but he’s still showing us up!
Is it hard to keep the motivation levels high when things are so uncertain?
Yeah, it was grand last year because we were able to do a bit with East Kerry and with Spa, but this lockdown seems that bit harder. The weather is a lot worse, the evenings are a lot shorter, and there’s no real plan for us in place yet. But we just have to keep at it and hopefully we’ll have something to look forward to in the near future.
Spa still have the 2020 intermediate semi-final on the horizon. Are you optimistic that you can win that competition and make the step up to senior?
That’s one thing that makes it easier for us to stay motivated. The intermediate has to be played and we have to be fit for it. Look, we’ve been knocking around the intermediate now for a good few years without really making a good impression on it. We’ll take it one game at a time. We’ve got Castleisland in the semi-final so hopefully we can get over them. Fingers crossed.
If Spa were to get promoted, would it be hard to say goodbye to the East Kerry team?
It actually would be hard. I’ve been with East Kerry since I was 17 years old and I’ve played with all those players for so many years with the Sem and with East Kerry. We have a club atmosphere – everyone’s very close. So it will be hard to say goodbye. But at the end of the day, the greatest honour you can have is to play senior County Championship with your club and that is 100% something that everyone in Spa wants to do. That’s the main thing for us.
What do you make of people who say East Kerry are too strong and the district should be split up?
Yerrah, look, all I’ll say is that East Kerry didn’t win anything for 20 years. No one was talking about East Kerry when we were down in the dumps, losing to Laune Rangers in the first round of the County Championship. We had just as many clubs back then. When you’re on top, there are always people trying to take you down. I wouldn’t take much notice of it.
Where do the 2019 and 2020 County Championship wins rank in your personal list of achievements?
I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved with a couple of great teams. Fierce lucky. The wins with East Kerry, especially 2019, are right up there with the Hogan Cup win with the Sem. They were just two special days. Obviously 2020 was great as well but, because of COVID, there were no fans, so it was weird. We couldn’t have a proper celebration or anything. 2019 was one of the better days of my career, and the better days of my life. Just being with everyone on the pitch after… To break that 20-year duck was something special and I don’t think anything could come near it, unless we do something with Spa. That’s the only thing that could top it.
Okay, change of pace. Here’s your chance to do some slating. Which of your teammates (Spa or East Kerry) never stops complaining?
That’s an easy one anyway. Dara Moynihan. 100%. For Spa and East Kerry. I love him to bits but he’d get on you nerves at times! He’s obviously a great player though and it probably makes him what he is.
Who is the teacher’s pet?
Another easy one. Dan O’Donoghue. All you have to do is ask him why he’s captain for East Kerry. It’s a good story but I’ll leave that for another day.
This is the second or third time I’ve been told to investigate this Dan O’Donoghue captaincy story. I’ll have to get it from the horse’s mouth.
Yeah, it’s an interesting one. That’s a story to go after.
Best at Tinder?
Mike Foley. He claims that he has completed Tinder and he’s after moving on to Hinge.
Who spends the most time in the gym?
James Devane. He’s there two or three times a day. He doesn’t do anything else. If he could marry the gym, he’d be married with a couple of years.
Who would be first on the microphone at karaoke?
It’s a toss-up between Paudie Clifford and Brian O’Donoghue (Stocky). I’ll give it to Stocky because he gives a great rendition of ‘Love, Me’ by Collin Raye.
Are you much of a singer yourself? Which song would you choose if you had to?
I wouldn’t say I’m much of a singer but I’d go with ‘Beeswing’.
Which teammate is most likely to become a club officer?
Shane Cronin. If there’s anything going on in Spa, or anything to be organised, he’s the man behind it. He has a knack for it.
If you could bring back one Spa or East Kerry legend to play alongside, who would it be?
East Kerry is an easy one: Séamus Moynihan. Definitely. He’s an absolute hero and I would’ve loved to have played with him. Spa is more tricky. There are a lot of fellas I could mention. I’m going to go with Pat Cronin Sr. He’s a gentleman off the pitch and I’ve only heard good things about him in terms of football.
And final question: what’s the first thing you’re going to do when the pandemic is over?
Hopefully we’ll get that semi-final played with Spa and we’ll be targeting a final. And one thing I’m mad to do is go out to Darby’s (Torc Hotel) for a pint and a game of pool with the Spa lads.
It will be badly needed. Thanks Evan. All the best.
Not a bother Adam. Thanks very much.
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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