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Is this the Sem’s greatest ever XV?



Killarney Advertiser Sports Editor and former St Brendan’s captain Adam Moynihan selects a dream team of some of the best footballers to ever play for the Sem.


For at least a hundred years now, St Brendan’s College has been a dominant force in schools football, winning no fewer than 22 Corn Uí Mhuirí titles, four Hogan Cups and providing the Kerry seniors with countless top class footballers along the way.

Whittling it down to the bare 15 is an impossible task - a huge number of fantastic players are mightily unfortunate not to be included – but through discussions with some Sem stars from bygone eras and a thorough examination of the history books, a version of a St Brendan’s dream team was finally produced.

Some players earned their places via their performances in St Brendan’s colours, others for their achievements thereafter. Some were boarders, others day boys. But they all have at least two things in common: they are all Sem boys and they are all supremely talented footballers.



1. Johnny Culloty

A highly skilled player who won his first All-Ireland for Kerry as a corner forward in 1954, Culloty didn’t make a name for himself as a goalkeeper until many years after he graduated from the Sem. The Legion legend kept goal for The Kingdom from 1959 to 1971, winning four more Celtic crosses in the process.

2. Denny Lyne

The fifth of the famous Lyne brothers of Cleeney, Denny was an unusually stylish full/corner back in an era of tough-tackling defenders. An All-Ireland winner with Kerry in 1946, he also won the County Championship with the Legion that same year before captaining The Kingdom in their momentous clash against Cavan in the Polo Grounds in New York in 1947.

3. John O’Keeffe

It took the Sem 23 years to win their first Hogan Cup and, somewhat ironically, it was a Tralee man who led them to the promised land. Athletic all-rounder John O’Keeffe from the Austin Stacks club was a boarder in St Brendan’s and he captained the school’s senior footballers to victory over St Mary’s of Galway in 1969. He went on to become a mainstay of Kerry’s Golden Years team, claiming no fewer than seven All-Irelands and five All-Stars along with a Footballer of the Year award in 1975.

4. Mike McCarthy

McCarthy is one player who didn’t really excel in Sem colours. In fact, when he was in sixth year, he didn’t make the school’s senior team. Kilcummin’s quiet man would subsequently blossom into one of the most reliable corner backs of his generation and he was a key factor in the All-Ireland wins of 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2009.

5. Jackie Lyne

Younger brother of Denny, Jackie is perhaps the best-known sibling in Legion’s most famous footballing family. A versatile, barrel-chested ball player, he is regarded by many as the finest footballer of his generation and one of Kerry’s all-time greats. Jackie won a Kerry colleges title with the Sem before securing two All-Irelands with Kerry in 1946 and 1953.

6. Séamus Moynihan

Séamo was an influential figure for St Brendan’s as the school bridged a 23-year gap to claim their second Hogan Cup in 1992. A couple of months later, the Glenflesk native was lining out at midfield for Kerry in the Munster Championship and a remarkable intercounty career was born. He won four All-Irelands and three All-Stars over the course of 15 years in the green and gold.

7. Donie O’Sullivan

Much like Mike McCarthy in the corner behind him, Spa man Donie O’Sullivan was not a star in his school days but he came into his own at senior level. He played over 100 games in all competitions for Kerry, operating at corner back, half back and midfield over the course of an impressive 14-year intercounty career. The county’s first All-Star in 1971.

8. Páidí Ó Sé

Ask most people about Páidí Ó Sé’s time in the Sem and they’re sure to bring up his expulsion but focusing on this alone is doing the great An Ghaeltacht clubman a great disservice. Páidí won three O’Sullivan Cups and two Corn Uí Mhuirí’s with St Brendan’s, starring at midfield as the Killarney school reached the All-Ireland final and semi-final in 1972 and 1973 respectively. An eight-time All-Ireland winner with Kerry and a five-time All-Star.

9. Paudie Lynch

Another member of the victorious 1969 team, Paudie Lynch from Beaufort was a superb player who became a trusted servant for Kerry during the Mick O’Dwyer era. Lynch could play multiple positions, lining out at midfield in the 1975 All-Ireland against Dublin before moving into the backs in his later years. An ever-present during The Kindgom’s historic four-in-a-row run from 1978 to 1981.

10. Dara Moynihan

The 21-year-old from Spa still has his whole senior career ahead of him but he gets the nod in this team for the significant part he played in the school’s third and fourth Hogan Cup triumphs. Moynihan was instrumental against St Pat’s of Derry in the 2016 decider as he kicked four points from play and he repeated the trick as captain in 2017 when once again he led his team to glory in Croke Park, this time against St Peter’s of Wexford.

11. Dick Fitzgerald

This Crokes icon was the first superstar of the GAA. After studying in the Sem and later the Presentation Brothers College in Cork, Dickeen won five All-Irelands with Kerry, including the county’s first in 1903 and two as captain in 1913 and 1914. The Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney is named in his honour.

12. Pat Spillane

Another offshoot of the Lyne dynasty, Pat Spillane boarded in St Brendan’s where he won a pair of Munster titles and also reached the Hogan Cup final alongside Páidí Ó Sé in 1972. The incredibly fit and remarkably skilful Templenoe man went on to forge one of the finest intercounty careers the GAA has ever seen, winning no fewer than eight All-Irelands and nine All-Stars, both of which stand as a records to this day.

13. Colm Cooper

It’s amazing to think that one of the greatest talents in the history of the game wasn’t necessarily a superstar in his school days, but that’s how it was for Dr Crokes legend Colm Cooper. A student at the Sem during the lean years and not always a guaranteed starter, Gooch more than made up for it over the course of a glittering career for club and county. One of the best to ever do it.

14. David Clifford

Despite having talented teams in the nineties and noughties, after ’92 the Sem somehow managed to go another 24 years without winning the coveted Hogan Cup. Then Cliffy came along. The Fossa prodigy lit up the schools scene in 2016 and he grabbed national attention for the very first time by scoring 2-5 in the final against St Pat’s. Now the captain of the Kerry senior footballers, the 21-year-old already has two All-Stars to his name.

15. Tadhgie Lyne

Nicknamed the Prince of Forwards, Tadhgie Lyne (no relation to the Lynes of Cleeney) is remembered as one of the most stylish footballers to ever come out of Killarney. He helped the Sem to two Munster titles in 1946 and 1947 and although he never made the Kerry minors, the Crokes man went on to win three All-Irelands, a Footballer of the Year award and was Man of the Match in the 1953 final when he kicked six points from wing forward against Armagh.



If Big Sam hates the present so much, why should we entrust him with Ireland’s future?



by Adam Moynihan

Yesterday, by complete coincidence, I consumed two pieces of media that focussed on brash, larger than life Englishmen.

The first was a Second Captains interview with football manager Sam Allardyce and the second was a 2006 Channel 4 documentary about Roy Chubby Brown, aka Britain’s rudest comedian.

For those unfamiliar with Brown’s work, “rude” is a very kind way of describing his frankly awful brand of outrageously offensive comedy. Many of his jokes cannot be repeated here but the narrator of the documentary sums him up well when he notes that, “on stage [Brown] uses themes that most other comedians discarded several decades ago”. He developed a significant following regardless, making millions of pounds off his live gigs, VHS tapes and DVDs.

I was struck by the many similarities between Allardyce and Brown, two controversial celebrities whose success has never been greeted with the acclaim they feel it deserves.

Allardyce is considered one of the leading candidates for the vacant Ireland managerial post and, when prompted by host Eoin McDevitt, he willingly threw his hat into the ring at a Second Captains live show in Dublin. The former Bolton, West Ham and England boss was initially given a warm welcome by the audience but McDevitt and co-hosts Ciarán Murphy and Ken Early subsequently pointed out that the atmosphere soured as the interview wore on.

Allardyce certainly has a tendency to rub people up the wrong way. He and Roy Chubby Brown have that in common. But that’s not where the parallels end.

Perhaps the most tangible link is both men’s aversion to foreigners. Brown frequently takes jabs at immigrants as part of his routine, while Big Sam is vociferously opposed to non-English managers and owners coming to the Premier League and, in his words, “pinching our jobs”. While Allardyce is obviously nowhere near as overtly xenophobic as Brown, that particular remark is exactly like one of Brown’s gags, albeit without the punchline.

Like Brown, Allardyce rails against modernity and refuses to accept that times change. He claims we have all been brainwashed into thinking that possession football is good in much the same way that Brown believes we’ve all been brainwashed into thinking that taking the piss out of minorities is bad.

In taking that stance, they both reveal how out of touch they are with the majority of the population. (The classic Principal Skinner line “no, it’s the children who are wrong” springs to mind.) Instead of adapting their approach and moving with the times, they remain devoutly true to their methods, however outdated the rest of the world deems them to be. Emboldened by a small cult following of Little Englanders, they lack the self-awareness to realise why they are out of favour with everyone else. And they’re not for changing.

Allardyce, who lost his England job after just 67 days due to alleged professional malpractice, favours a direct style of football. There may be a time and place for such an approach but most people prefer to watch possession-based football, and most players prefer to play it. It’s not a global conspiracy to do old-style managers like Allardyce out of a job. “Tippy tappy football”, as Big Sam calls it, is popular for a reason.

In the documentary, Brown (then 61) laments the fact that he hasn’t been on TV in 18 years. The audiences at his live shows are dwindling and the money coming in isn’t covering his expenditure. But, of course, he and his material are not to blame. Society is the problem.

(The Middlesbrough native is still performing, incidentally, although earlier this year a number of his shows were cancelled. His manager accused venues of “bowing to the woke/snowflake pressure”.)

Allardyce’s best days are more than likely behind him too. His career peaked in the mid-2000s when he brought Bolton all the way to Europe. That was a fantastic achievement but in football terms it’s a lifetime ago.

As I reflected on the interview and the documentary, it occurred to me that giving the Ireland job to Sam Allardyce would, in a way, be like giving The Late Late Show job to Roy Chubby Brown. What message would that put out? What values would it promote?

More importantly, why should we entrust the future of Irish football to someone who clearly despises the modern game?

If that’s how he feels about the present, imagine how he’ll feel about whatever comes next.


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Fossa on cusp of history as club from ‘nine square miles’ eyes senior status



Kerry IFC Final

Fossa v Milltown/Castlemaine

Sunday 2.30pm

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.

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