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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.

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Glorious weather for Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships

It was a day of glorious sunshine yesterday (Sunday) as Flesk Valley Rowing Club hosted the 2022 Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships for the very first time in beautiful Castlelough […]

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It was a day of glorious sunshine yesterday (Sunday) as Flesk Valley Rowing Club hosted the 2022 Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships for the very first time in beautiful Castlelough Bay on Lough Lein.

Hundreds flocked to the Valley shore to see the coastal clubs of Kerry race in crews from Under 12 to Masters. As well as clubs from around the Ring of Kerry, there was a strong representation from the Killarney clubs with the Workmen, Commercials and Fossa wearing their colours with pride. The atmosphere, colour, fun and fierce competition produced a spectacular day that will live long in the memory.

The event was opened by the Councillor John O’Donoghue, vice chair of the Killarney Municipal District who congratulated Flesk Valley on their centenary, which occurred during 1920, and wished all of the clubs a successful day’s racing.

The first race was preceded by a special blessing of the boats by Fr Eugene McGillycuddy, who also remembered Brendan Teahan of Cromane Rowing Club in his prayers.

Afterwards John Fleming, chair of Flesk Valley, expressed his immense pride and satisfaction with the success of the regatta.

“It’s our first time ever hosting a regatta, but we wanted to do something special to mark our 102 years in existence,” he said.

“It was a lot of work, but we have a fantastic hard-working committee in Flesk Valley who really pulled out all the stops to make it happen, and we received fantastic support from our members, parents, other clubs and local businesses.”

John also thanked the Kerry Coastal Rowing Association, in particular Mary B Teahan and Andrew Wharton, and the staff of the Killarney National Park for all their support and encouragement in hosting this event.

This was a qualifying event and the Kerry clubs will be heading to Wexford next weekend to complete for honours at the All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships.

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Live referee mics should be the norm – swearing concerns be damned

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by Adam Moynihan

I was disappointed to learn that the GAA are preventing TG4 from using their live referee mic in this Sunday’s Wexford hurling final.

(And not just because I had already written an article saying how great live referee mics are and how they are sure to be implemented across the board. Ctrl + A. Delete.)

TG4’s GAA coverage is superb and they raised the bar once again when they mic’d up referee John O’Halloran for the Kerry hurling final between Causeway and Ballyduff.

Pinning a microphone on the referee is standard practice in televised rugby and judging by the positive response to Gaelic games’ first foray into this territory, I was expecting it to become the norm.

It still might but, explaining their decision to The 42, the GAA said that they were not aware beforehand of the ref mic being trialled in Stack Park on Sunday.

“They believe such a development will require more discussion and education if it is to be implemented on a more regular basis in live TV coverage and could possibly need a policy change,” Fintan O’Toole reported.

The image of the Association is surely the primary concern here.

Players and managers – usually the worst behaved participants when it comes to things like swearing – will be among those who get “educated” on the subject. Some verbal abuse that might otherwise be muted for television viewers will, in all likelihood, be picked up by the referee’s microphone. You would imagine that the teams involved will be reminded of this the week of a televised game.

It also makes sense from Croke Park’s point of view to speak to referees and give them guidance on how to conduct themselves when the mic is on.

In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if senior GAA figures are currently fretting over the possibility of an agitated ref making headlines for something they say in the heat of the moment. And make no mistake about it, some match officials can eff and jeff with the best of them.

A friend of mine (a Wexford man, funnily enough) recalls an incident when a teammate was unceremoniously taken out of it by an opponent.

“Ah ref, for f***’s sake!” the victim complained.

“I gave you the f***ing free,” the referee replied. “What do you want me to do, slap him in the face with a wet fish?!”

The GAA might think that a referee swearing like that would leave all of us red-faced. In reality the clip would be a viral sensation and the general public would probably call for the official in question to run for Áras an Uachtárain. (He’d get my ****ing vote.)

The odd swear word from someone involved is bound to sneak through every now and then but you’d hear the same – and plenty more – at any match you attend from Cahersiveen to County Antrim.

Implementing the referee mic on a wider scale is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t appear to take a huge amount of effort or expense for the broadcaster to set it up and, more importantly, it offers a wonderful insight into the unknown.

Listening to referees explain their decisions in real time will clear a lot of things up for commentators, analysts and the media. We will no longer have to speculate about what they did or did not see, or what specific rule is being cited, or why.

Viewers, especially those who might be casual followers of the sport, will appreciate it too and become more educated; I know that’s how I feel when I watch rugby, for example.

It just leads to greater transparency and understanding.

Well done to TG4 and the Kerry County Board for being the pioneers. I’m sure others will follow their lead – as soon as the GAA allow them to do so.

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