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Cronin: No one was talking about East Kerry when we were down in the dumps

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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.

 

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Tobin hails Spa teammates following ‘fairytale’ final

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by Adam Moynihan

Spa have been desperate to win Kerry’s Intermediate Club Championship, and earn promotion back to senior level, since 2010 when they were demoted at the first time of asking following their Intermediate final victory the year before.

With the other clubs in the parish (Dr Crokes and the Killarney Legion) operating at senior, and with a strong batch of young players coming through in recent years, returning to the top table as quickly as possible has been the club’s primary target. They came close on a number of occasions in the intervening years, losing three finals between 2012 and 2015.

They finally managed to reach the mountain top on Sunday last and there was one remarkable link between 2009 and their latest triumph. Cian Tobin’s last full season with Spa was in 2009. He then emigrated to London and later Abu Dhabi, before returning to Killarney this year and linking up with his club.

Tobin played a key role for Spa as they broke their hoodoo by defeating Beaufort in last Sunday’s decider at the Fitzgerald Stadium. The skilful corner forward bagged 3-1 in the 4-18 to 1-19 win, a tally which earned him the sponsor’s Man of the Match award.

As far as comebacks go, this one is fairly special. However, amidst all the celebrations, the fact that Tobin missed out on a decade of hard graft and tough losses has not been lost on his colleagues.

“The lads have been giving me an awful slagging this week,” the 30-year-old says with a smile. “They’ve been saying, ‘you are so jammy, you’ve been away for years and you come back and we win it straight away!’

“I missed a lot of the hard work in those winter months. I was joking with them that I was doing the warm weather training for the last 10 years while they were up in Spa in the rain.

“To be fair, I found it easy to fit in when I came back because the young fellas and the management team are outstanding to work with it.”

GOALS

Beaufort, who are relative newcomers to intermediate having won the Junior Premier Championship in 2018, gave as good as they got in the first half of Sunday’s final, but Tobin’s opening goal in the 25th minute came at just the right time for Spa.

“I thought Beaufort were excellent,” Tobin reflects. “I went with Shane Cronin to watch their semi-final (versus Na Gaeil) and I was very impressed. Some of their kicking the last day was outstanding too. There was great forward play. Liam Carey got a point that was an absolutely scandalous score.

“It was tight in the first half until the first goal came. It just fell to me in the right position. I got lucky. Until then it was very close.”

Goals two and three followed in the second half. They were neatly tucked away by Spa’s No. 15, but, to his mind, the credit goes to his teammates for teeing him up.

“Shane Cronin is a machine when he gets going, he’s very hard to stop. He put [the second goal] on a plate for me. I didn’t really have much to do again. But yeah, once that went in there was a bit of daylight. In all our matches we have been pushing on in that third quarter, and that’s when we kind of pulled away again on Sunday.

“The third one was a great turnover by Ciarán Spillane and, again, he put it on a plate for me. It was one of them days… I know someone has to score them but the work was done out the field really.”

Guided by the management team of Ivor Flynn, Kieran Herlihy, Brian Gleeson, Neily Kerins and Arthur Fitzgerald, Spa powered to an eight-point win. Does the manner of their performance perhaps underline the fact that they deserve a crack at senior?

“I think so,” Tobin nods. “Everyone from No. 5 up, bar one, scored. That’s a massive spread of scorers. And then we have the full back line of Brian Lynch, Shane Lynch and Eoin Fitzgerald… In years past maybe we would have had a few weaker spots in the team but I think we’re strong all over the field now.”

INTRODUCTION

The effect COVID-19 has had on the 2020 and 2021 GAA calendars means that the 2020 Intermediate champs now have a rapid turnaround ahead of their long-awaited senior bow. First up is a group phase match against their neighbours and fierce rivals, Dr Crokes, on Sunday.

“Nice introduction, isn’t it?!” Tobin jokes. “That’s where you want to be, though. Playing in those kinds of games in the Fitzgerald Stadium against the club kingpins in Kerry. Now that we’re there, hopefully we can do ourselves justice.

“It means a lot [to be a senior club]. We thought ourselves that we deserved to be there, and we’ve put in the work to be there, we just haven’t always got the rub of the green in recent years. It felt like, ‘are we ever going to get over the line?’

“The feeling at the final whistle on Sunday was just relief more than anything, I think, because we’ve been there so many times.

“Maybe not so much me because I’ve been away, but I think it was three finals we lost, and we lost some close games against Templenoe recently. We always thought we were good enough to get over the line but we just hadn’t been doing it.

“To be honest, it was fairytale stuff for me.”

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Late drama at exciting Celtic Golf Classic

The last team out at the Killarney Celtic Golf Classic carded 106 points to overtake all who went before at an entertaining fundraiser staged over two days at the pristine Beaufort Golf Club. From Friday to late Saturday afternoon, the imposing tally of 101 points registered by the O’Donoghue Ring Hotel Group team of James […]

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The last team out at the Killarney Celtic Golf Classic carded 106 points to overtake all who went before at an entertaining fundraiser staged over two days at the pristine Beaufort Golf Club.

From Friday to late Saturday afternoon, the imposing tally of 101 points registered by the O’Donoghue Ring Hotel Group team of James McCarthy, Brian McCarthy, Cian Harte and Gavin Murray looked like being a winning one. The got a scare when the Spa GAA team almost caught them; Seánie Kelliher, Donal Cronin, John Cahill and Seán Devane ultimately carded a great score of 100 points to go second.

With the O’Donoghue Ring Hotel Group quartet hanging on for victory, it was all down to Kissane Meats and Pat O’Neill, John England, Tony Sugrue and Donie Brosnan snatched first place by hitting a weekend high of 106 points.

The Nearest to the Pin was won by Aaron Jones of the Dawn Meats team while the Longest Drive came from the club of Mark O’Shea who was representing Tom Meehan’s team.

Speaking at the prizegiving, Killarney Celtic Vice Chairman Paul Sherry thanked all involved for contributing to another hugely successful fundraising day for the club.

“Killarney Celtic is indebted to its members who volunteered over the two days,” he said, “to those who sponsored the prizes, entered teams, took signs, provided the fruit and chocolate and of course, most importantly, played on Friday and Saturday.
“We also must thank the staff at Beaufort, both working on the course and those in the clubhouse.

“A sign of a good golf classic is the number of returning teams and sponsors and already a number have committed to join us again in August/September 2022.”

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