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Is this the Sem’s greatest ever XV?

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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.

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‘There’s definitely more in me’ – Leahy feeling positive after close-run thing at nationals

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Kerry woman Sarah Leahy chats to Adam Moynihan about her recent outing at the National Outdoor Championships in Dublin. The Killarney Valley AC sprinter competed with the best of the best, including new Irish record holder Rhasidat Adeleke.

Adam Moynihan: You recently took part in the 100m final at the National Championships. How was that experience for you?

Sarah Leahy: Atmosphere-wise it was absolutely amazing. Just very good energy all around. And coming out for the final, obviously, Rhasidat brought a massive crowd. So that was really cool to be a part of because I don’t think there’s ever been a crowd that big at nationals before. To be in the final where so many people were there to watch her was obviously amazing.

What about the race itself?

I came fifth and ran a time of 11.74. On the day, with the whole excitement of it all, I was actually really happy with that. I was a bit disappointed but I was like, it’s a great day overall. I ran well, didn’t get a medal but I was really close. I didn’t get the perfect start like I did in the heat. So I was a little bit behind, but I just managed to come fifth in the end.

A week on, the excitement has kind of worn off, and I think there’s definitely a lot more in me. I could’ve pipped the third place But yeah, it is what it is. It was still good. I’m happy with it.

It was very tight for third place, wasn’t it?

Yeah, it was two-or-three-hundredths of a second and it was a blanket finish for four of us. So it was close but no cigar. Not this time. I came fifth last year as well, so I was hoping for at least fourth this year, but it ended up being the same. At least it wasn’t sixth! And there’s definitely more in me as well. Time-wise I’m just waiting for it to kind of happen a little bit. I believe it will. It was amazing to be in a race where a national record was broken.

And the standard was obviously very high across the board. All the big names were there.

It was a very high standard, yeah. Going in we kind of knew that first and second were gone (to Adeleke and Sarah Lavin). Everyone else was battling for that third medal and only one person could get it in the end. (Mollie O’Reilly got the bronze.) We were all close.

But overall I was super grateful to be in the mix, especially in a race that was that big. It’s one that will go down in history. It was a massive weekend and it was very enjoyable.

Rhasidat is a massive superstar now. What’s it like to run alongside her?

Rhasidat is a great athlete and a very nice girl. As you can see in interviews, she’s very humble. So to compete next to her, to literally be running in the lane right beside her, was amazing. I couldn’t have asked for more from the day in that respect. I thought she might have ran sub-11 because she did it before but she still got a national record. To be part of that race was a big deal for me.

Athletics in Ireland seems to be in a good place, particularly after the success the Irish team had in the recent European Championships in Rome. Does it feel like the sport is getting more attention and more recognition these days?

Oh 100%. Support for athletics has grown hugely in the last few years and I think it’ll continue to grow, especially with the success that Ireland had at the European Championships. I think the Olympics this year is going to drive that on even more because we have such great athletes going. The support is growing and rightfully so. The athletes are really getting the recognition they deserve. I think the future is very exciting for athletics in Ireland.

What about your own career? What’s next for you?

I have one last race of the season left, which is at the AAI Games on Sunday in Dublin. I’m hoping to just get a good run out, a good time, and execute the race well. Training will continue until the end of July, I’ll get a month off, and then we’re back training for indoors next year. I love indoors. I think I excel at that. There’s European Indoors and World Indoors next year, so to qualify for them would be a huge, huge goal.

As for outdoors, I’d like to get on the Irish relay team, but I’ll be focussing on indoors first. It should be a good year.

Are you enjoying it?

Yeah, I’m really enjoying it. I think sometimes you might put too much pressure on yourself and try to get a PB in every race but this year I’ve really learned that I’ve done the training, so it will happen when it happens. Just go out and run and let your body do its thing. And I’m actually really enjoying competing this year. I know I’m going to continue enjoying it for the next few years.

With the surrounding support of the club and coaches and my training group, it’s all going really well for me at the moment. I have no complaints at all. I’m very lucky.

Thanks for your time, Sarah, and all the best for the rest of the season.

Thank you very much, Adam. It was lovely talking to you.

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Kingdom ladies hoping for repeat performance against Royals

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LGFA All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final

Kerry v Meath

Saturday 5.15pm

Austin Stack Park

Live on TG4

Just like they did in 2023, the Kerry ladies will take on Meath in the All-Ireland quarter-final in Tralee this weekend and a repeat of the result they earned that wintry day 12 months ago will do just fine.

Last year’s encounter at Stack Park was a classic game of two halves as the home team ran up a 10-point lead with the unseasonable elements at their collective back.

Meath, who at the time were on the hunt for their third All-Ireland in a row, fought back admirably in the second period but the Kerry women held firm and won by four (2-8 to 0-10) after an emotionally charged final quarter.

Síofra O’Shea was Kerry’s top scorer on the day with 1-1 and her return from injury in recent weeks is a major boost to Darragh Long and Declan Quill’s squad.

The Kingdom made light work of Meath when the sides met in the league in March as Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh kicked 0-8 in a 1-15 to 0-5 victory. Shane McCormack’s charges subsequently lost to Dublin in the Leinster final by 18 points before finishing second to Armagh in the All-Ireland group stage.

Marion Farrelly, Emma Duggan and Meadhbh Byrne caught the eye in their recent win over Tipperary, combining for 2-11 of the team’s total of 2-15.

Former Player of the Year Vikki Wall could be in line for a dramatic comeback after a spell with the Ireland Rugby Sevens team.

As for Kerry, they should arrive at the last eight in decent spirits having put in their best display of the season so far against Waterford three weeks ago. The Munster champions were excellent and eventually ran out 4-13 to 0-9 winners with skilful forward Hannah O’Donoghue (1-3) and all-action half back Aishling O’Connell (0-2) particularly impressive.

Meath are a capable opponent on their day, though, so another professional performance will be required if Kerry want to keep their All-Ireland dream alive.

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