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How should we spell the names of Kerry’s top GAA clubs?

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by Adam Moynihan

Here’s a trivia question for you. Four teams remain in the Kerry Senior Football Championship. Spell their names.

It sounds simple but it’s actually quite tricky, especially if you take heed of the great sportswriter Con Houlihan, who once said that “a man who will misuse an apostrophe is capable of anything”.

Let’s start with the “easy” one. St Brendan’s. Former Sem students will know that an apostrophe is required. An open and shut case. But the official St Brendan’s Board Twitter account is St Brendans Board (no apostrophe), and the official Kerry GAA Eolaire refers to St. Brendans Committee (also no apostrophe).

Most people would agree that there should be an apostrophe. The board, like the Killarney college, is named for St Brendan. It is, in a manner of speaking, his college and his board. Therefore, it is St Brendan’s College and St Brendan’s Board. Without the apostrophe, it is ‘Brendans’ plural. Is the implication that the district is stacked with saints?

With that in mind, let us consider Dr Crokes. This is the usual spelling (no apostrophe) that is used by the club and by most journalists. However, this again suggests a club made up of multiple ‘Crokes’, rather than the club of Dr Croke. Maybe that’s the point, but the Killarney outfit are named for Archbishop Thomas William Croke in the same way that Brendan’s are named for St Brendan. Why should it be St Brendan’s Board but not Dr Croke’s GAA Club? Does one need to be canonised before earning an apostrophe?

The same applies to Austin Stacks, who confirmed to me this week that they prefer not to use an apostrophe. The club is named after the Irish republican Austin Stack and so, technically, you could argue that it should be called Austin Stack’s GAA Club. And that’s a version that has been spotted in the past. I happen to have a Rockies jersey from 2010 for sale on Vintage GAA Jerseys (never miss an opportunity for a free plug) and the name on the crest has an apostrophe (pictured). The apostrophe does not appear on the current crest and it is not normally used by the media, although it is not completely unheard of.

Things become even more complicated when we cross Tralee to Strand Road. Kerins O’Rahillys refer to themselves as such (no apostrophe) on their website and on their official Twitter account. Some journalists – this one included – have been known to use Kerins O’Rahilly’s. However, when you think about it, if that’s the route we’re taking then one apostrophe isn’t enough. The club is named for two men, Charlie Kerins and Michael Joseph O’Rahilly, so, grammatically speaking, should it actually be Kerins’ O’Rahilly’s? Or Kerins’/O’Rahilly’s?

If either of those options look wrong to you, I’m with you. The same goes for Croke’s and Stack’s. They’re jarring because they are not commonly used, and perhaps we are talking about a team or a club of many Crokes and Stacks and Kerinses and Rahillys when we talk about these powerhouses of Kerry GAA.

Ending names in ‘apostrophe + s’ also makes things tricky for me as a sportswriter. It is much cleaner to write, “Dr Crokes’ best player on the day was…” than “Dr Croke’s’ best player on the day was…”

In 2015, Ulster GAA tackled this very issue by producing a document with the official names of every club in the province, in Irish and in English. Apostrophes were adopted across the board. Robert Emmet’s in Tyrone, Red Hugh’s in Donegal, Laurence O’Toole’s in Armagh.

Would it be worth doing the same in Kerry? Even if all apostrophes were officially abolished (with Crokes, Stacks and Rahillys, as well as the likes of John Mitchels and Crotta O’Neills, keeping their current spellings), at least it would remove all doubt.

There are two county semi-finals on this weekend and there's a strong possibility that each of the teams involved will read an “incorrect” version of their names in some outlet or another.

To some, this might only be a small thing. Well, it is and it isn’t. Your name is your name. Surely it’s better for everyone to get it right than for some of us to keep getting it wrong.

Sport

Kerry ladies must bounce back at home to Waterford

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All-Ireland Senior Championship Group 2

Kerry v Waterford

Saturday 3pm

Fitzgerald Stadium

The Kerry ladies will be looking to get back to winning ways against Waterford on Saturday following last weekend’s frustrating draw against Donegal in Ballybofey.

The Kingdom led with seconds remaining in treacherous conditions but a late Donegal free snatched a draw for the home side (Donegal 1-6 Kerry 0-9). It was a game that Kerry would have been expecting to win and the result puts a lot more pressure on them this weekend as they try to top the three-team group and earn a home quarter-final.

If they beat Waterford and Donegal do likewise next week, Kerry and Donegal will be level in first place on four points each. The top seed will then be decided by the head-to-head record between the teams. As Kerry v Donegal was a draw, the deciding factor will be whoever scored the most points in that draw. That would be good news for Kerry as they scored nine points to Donegal’s six.

When Kerry and Waterford last met (in this year’s Munster Championship), Kerry needed a late winner by Fiadhna Tangney to prevail by narrowest of margins (1-8 to 1-7). If Waterford beat Kerry and then lose to Donegal, Kerry would be eliminated from the championship.

The Kerry squad has been boosted by the return of Síofra O’Shea who came off the bench against Donegal following a lengthy period out with a knee injury.

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US-bound Kerry runner Lynch hopes to emulate Mageean magic

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by Adam Moynihan

Killarney middle distance runner Oisín Lynch is taking inspiration from newly crowned European 1500m champion Ciara Mageean as he gets set for the next stage of his career in the United States.

This week Lynch confirmed that he will be heading Stateside after accepting a scholarship at Adams State University in Colorado. The promising 800m and 1500m competitor caught the eye of coaches at the leading American college after representing Ireland in the Youth Olympics and also by winning two national titles in recent months.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, the 18-year-old Killarney Valley AC athlete, who is currently doing his Leaving Cert at St Brendan’s College, says he one day hopes to emulate Mageean’s heroics on the international stage.

“The Irish are on the up at underage and at senior level,” Lynch notes. “We have been improving a lot in recent years. When you see Ciara Mageean winning the 1500m it just shows that it can be done by Irish people.

“Sometimes Irish athletes don’t really believe in themselves when they’re getting knocked out of championships by English or European athletes. Mageean winning that European title is definitely something to drive me on. It shows that I can actually do it.”

DREAM

For Lynch, moving to the United States is a hugely significant step, and one that he has dreamed about making since he was a child.

“It’s unbelievable. I always hoped I could earn a scholarship. I worked hard over the last few years, so it’s nice to see that work paying off.

“I had a few schools onto me but when Adams State got in touch, I sized it up and I knew it was a really good opportunity.

“The fact that the college is at 7,500 feet… That’s a crazy altitude. It’s double the height of Carrauntoohil. Altitude training has massive benefits for distance running and nowadays nearly every pro spends most of their year training at altitude. The chance to get that training for the next couple of years is great.

“And their athletics programme is unbelievable. Coach Damon Martin has been there for 40 years and he has coached 12 Olympians. Adams State is in the top 15 for distance in the country and the standard out there in America is very high.”

STRIDES

Killarney Valley AC have made enormous strides since building their new, state-of-the-art facility in 2020 and Lynch is a grateful beneficiary of that progress.

“I can’t thank the club enough. Going back a couple of years we were training on grass in parks. When you want to be a track runner, it’s just not the same. After a lot of hard work by a lot of good people, we managed to get a 200-metre track in Killarney. That’s massive for us and it’s all we need for training.

“The coaches down there are putting in the hard work, including my dad (Con), Tomás Griffin, Jean Courtney, Jerry Griffin, Bríd Stack, Alan Delaney… I could go on. It’s a great club and there are some good athletes coming through. It’s an exciting time for Killarney Valley.”

After Lynch completes his Leaving Cert, he will start preparing for life as a college athlete. He will study kinesiology in Colorado and on the track he hopes to keep on moving in the right direction. That means getting his times down (his current PBs are 1.50.59 over 800m and 3.51 over 1500m), representing Ireland, and hopefully winning a national title in America.

“Obviously I’ll take every step as it comes,” the ambitious Kerryman says, “but the Olympics is the main long-term target, hopefully in LA in 2028.”

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