by Adam Moynihan
Former mayor of Killarney Tom Doherty says awareness around disabilities is “springing forward” as sporting bodies, businesses and communities strive to become more inclusive.
Doherty, who suffered a spinal injury when he was 15 and now walks with the assistance of a cane, is witnessing this trend first-hand as a member of Ireland’s flourishing disabled golf scene.
The Killarney native recently took part in the Disabled and Inclusive Golf Association of Ireland outing at Slieve Russell Golf Club in Cavan before flying out to England for a European Disability Golf Association tour event at Stoneleigh Deer Park Golf Club. Doherty claimed first place in the stableford category at the Royal Leamington venue.
He is now looking forward to the inaugural Irish Open for golfers with a disability, which will take place in Roganstown Country Club in Dublin at the beginning of July.
“Golf Ireland are doing a lot of work behind the scenes for inclusivity, which is great,” Doherty told the Killarney Advertiser. “They’re putting a lot of time into it.
“Clubs are opening up and people are getting more educated about disabilities and access. If you can help someone to overcome whatever barriers they have, golf is open to everyone.”
Golfers with visual impairment, cerebral palsy, spinal injuries and those who are amputees all compete on the Irish circuit.
“There’s specialised equipment out there,” Doherty explains. “A person who is a full-time wheelchair user can get a specially designed ‘Paragolfer’ machine that is fully adaptable, and that can carry them around specifically on a golf course. It will raise the golfer, according to the level of their disability, to take their shot, and away they go.
“There are special rules for golfers with certain disabilities – for example if a bunker is a certain size and their buggy is too big for it, they’ll get a drop. Still under penalty. A bad shot is still a bad shot!”
The former town councillor, who now works with the HSE, has been a disabilities advocate for many years and he has noticed a major cultural shift in recent times in particular.
“It’s great to see awareness and opportunities and education really springing forward now. It’s very exciting.
"It has been happening for a number of years but now it’s really blossoming.”
Visibility is a big part of this, Doherty insists, and local Paralympian Jordan Lee from the Killarney Valley club has been an important figure in this regard.
“I was actually competing the same day Jordan did his first official high jump (Doherty has represented Ireland in the discus, javelin and shot putt – he has also played basketball with the Kingdom Wheel Blasters and the Limerick Celtics).
“Jordan has turned into a big hero for kids, and a big brand name and an ambassador. At the end of the day, 17% of people have a disability. It’s a specific market but it’s a lot of people, and I think brands and industry are realising this more and more. And a lot of larger companies are becoming more connected to the community, which is a great thing.
“The kids look up to Jordan and, when it comes down to it, he’s another Irish athlete who gives it his all.
“Take the ‘dis’ out of ‘disability’ and you have ‘ability’. At first, young people might look at Jordan and say, ‘look, daddy, he’s got one arm’. But then eventually they go, ‘that’s Jordan the athlete, look how high he can jump’.
“Visibility is a huge thing. That’s the name of the game.”
Adam Moynihan: Two more clean sheets could well do it
by Adam Moynihan
When Kerry travelled to Páirc Uí Chaoimh for the 2019 Munster final, three years ago last week, their frailties were laid bare for all to see. They scored 1-19 and ended up with the right result but every Kerry fan in attendance came home saying the same thing: we’ll win no All-Ireland defending like that.
Cork scored three goals to go along with their 10 points – which was alarming enough by itself – but more worrying was the fact that Kerry coughed up four or five more goalscoring chances on top of that. Pat Moynihan could have driven his big red bus through the gaps down the centre of Kerry’s defence. And bear in mind that this was Cork doing the damage. What would the five-in-a-row-chasing Dubs do to us?
Kerry went on to give Dublin a good rattle in the All-Ireland final, pushing the champs to a replay, but they were ultimately undone by an opposition player running completely unchallenged from his own 65, right down the barrel of the gun, and dispatching a goal from the 13-metre line. No one laid a hand on him. From a defensive perspective, it was criminal.
The Kingdom kept six clean sheets in 16 games in 2019. In fairness to Peter Keane and his management team, this was a marked improvement on 2018 when Kerry managed just two in 12. But if anything Kerry’s ability to shut out their opponents deteriorated over the last two seasons. Kerry kept a clean sheet three times in eight attempts in 2020, and in 2021 their record was 0/8.
The 2020 campaign came crashing down when Cork scored a very preventable last-minute goal, and it’s safe to assume that Kerry would have at least reached an All-Ireland final were it not for the three goals Tyrone registered in last year’s semi-final.
Throughout all of these unsuccessful seasons, or certainly towards the tail end of them, Kerry’s defenders, especially the full back line, had targets on their backs. Guys like Jason Foley and Tadhg Morley were singled out. “Not up to it”. On the surface it makes sense to blame the backs. The full forward scores a goal ergo the full back is at fault, right?
It wasn’t that simple. If you look at the Cork match and pinpoint where the goal chances came from, most of them originated from runners out the field. It was the collective that was the problem, and the structure, not the full back line or anyone in it.
This season is proof. Under Jack O’Connor Kerry have kept nine clean sheets in 11 games. That’s as many shutouts as the previous three years combined.
That is an astonishing turnaround, especially when you consider the fact that the personnel involved hasn’t changed too much at all.
If you compare the Cork game in 2019 with the Mayo game last weekend, 12 of the 15 starters are the same. Another starter on Sunday came off the bench against Cork in ’19, and two subs who came on also came on in that provincial decider three years ago.
Two of Kerry’s most maligned backs back then, Jason Foley and Tadhg Morley, are now being heralded as potential All-Stars. What has changed?
Well, in the case of Foley and Morley, their positions have changed for starters. Foley has shifted from corner back to full back and Morley from full back to No. 6. Morley’s positional switch seems so obvious now that it has actually come to pass. He’s a natural fire fighter and is perfectly suited to man the area in front of Kerry’s full back line.
As excellent as they have been so far this season, to focus too much on the performances of Foley and Morley is to fall into the same trap people fell into in 2019. Just as Kerry’s defensive shortcomings in recent seasons weren’t down to individuals, Kerry’s defensive strengths this season are not down to individuals either.
At the end of last season I wrote about Kerry’s version of 100% effort without the ball and how I felt it differed to Tyrone’s version of 100% effort without the ball. It wasn’t that Kerry weren’t trying, far from it. It just didn’t seem like Kerry players revelled in the act of spoiling. It almost felt, as a supporter looking on, that conceding goals didn’t hurt them enough. Opponents were bursting through untracked, or if they were tracked they emerged from their foray unscathed.
This year something has clicked. Across the board, the tackling intensity has been turned up a notch or two and Kerry are hunting in packs. Guys like Brian Ó Beaglaoich (a hugely underrated player in my opinion), Adrian Spillane and Jack Barry have been irritants to the opposition, which is precisely what was needed. (Spillane and Barry will be big losses if they don’t recover in time for the Dublin game.)
You’d have to say that Jack O’Connor and his backroom team of Micheál Quirke, Diarmuid Murphy and Paddy Tally have installed a really good defensive structure. The clean sheet stats don’t lie.
Kerry aren’t there yet. It only takes one poor showing to undo the work of an entire season. But as things stand, for all the team’s riches in attack, it’s the defence that should give supporters hope. Nine clean sheets so far. Two more and Kerry will, in all likelihood, be All-Ireland champions.
Schools compete for pitch and putt title
By Michelle Crean A pitch and putt competition which began in St Oliver’s National School 14 years ago is now gaining momentum with other local schools taking part. Back in […]
By Michelle Crean
A pitch and putt competition which began in St Oliver’s National School 14 years ago is now gaining momentum with other local schools taking part.
Back in 2007, St Oliver’s pupil Leon Hennessy asked if the school could start a pitch and putt competition.
After much perseverance from Leon, teacher Noel O’Sullivan asked his colleague Tommy Galvin, who they dubbed as their ‘Minister of Sports’, and it was organised for June 2008.
As part of the competition the winner would receive the Brendan Walshe Shield in honour of the former principal of St Oliver’s.
“Over the years we have had various pupils win the shield who have gone on to excel in pitch and putt and golf, including John Kerrisk, Ewan MacIndoe, Stephen and Conor McCarthy, and Brian McCarthy who won it in Fourth Class and Sixth Class, denied a trio of victories by the lockdown in 2020, when he was in Fifth Class,” Noel told the Killarney Advertiser.
“Tommy Galvin retired last year but we had a regular chat about opening up the competition to other schools. So this year I decided to make this idea happen and though the idea was thrown out there late enough in May, Lissivigeen, the Monastery and the Gaelscoil were in a position to enter a team in June.
“We had a very high standard of pitch and putt, and the winning score came from a birdie on the last, care of the overall individual winner, Dara Wickham of Lissivigeen NS. That birdie handed Lissivigeen the overall victory.”
It was decided to name the shield for this new inter schools’ competition the ‘Tommy Galvin Shield’ as it would be a fitting recognition of Tommy’s work promoting pitch and putt, and golf in the primary schools in Killarney.
“Tommy was surprised and delighted with the news which we sprung on him at the prize giving. He encouraged the boys and girls present to give pitch and putt, and golf a go, and to try new sports over the summer.”
Tommy is captain of the Killarney Golf Club and supports an excellent youth set up in the club, he added.
“The Killarney Golf Club also has seen a huge growth in girls playing and we were delighted to have three girls compete in the pitch and putt competition. Cora O’Sullivan won the Best Girl prize which makes me a very proud father!
“Hopefully next year the Tommy Galvin Shield will feature more schools and that this is the beginning of a hotly contested competition over the coming years!”
He thanked Deerpark Pitch and Putt Club for their sponsorship.
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