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Kerry diaspora doing things the Kerry way



by Eamonn Fitzgerald

In Part 1 of his exploration into the GAA abroad, Eamonn Fitzgerald tells the story of Kerry Middle East, the Dubai club with strong Killarney connections.

Tomorrow Austin Park, Tralee will be packed to capacity with Kerry and Dublin supporters as the age-old rivalry between the Jackeens and the Culchies will be played out under lights. Jack O’Connor and Dessie O’Farrell will be keen to garner league points, while the spectators will look for even more, especially the bragging rights.

Nothing less than a win tomorrow will appease the supporters, who look to Jack on his third coming to deliver Sam. Jack eile did it when Ireland held its breath during the golden Charlton years. These past number of years have been annoying and frustrating for Kerry, knowing they should have won at least two more All-Irelands. Some of it was our own fault.

Will tomorrow night’s game on home soil provide credence to the high hopes that the famine will be overcome in July?


At home, spectators will wonder, but so too will the Kerry diaspora. Where better to start than in Dubai where the green and gold of Kerry is featuring so prominently. Kerry Middle East (KME) is the name of the newest club founded in 2018 and there is a strong Killarney connection.

Galen Carroll, Jamie Wrenn and David Leacy grew up together in Woodlawn. They attended the local primary and post-primary schools and had the benefits of third level education. Like so many others, they played games. All three Woodlawners loved sport, but they left it all and settled in Dubai.

Of course, most people have family members or friends who emigrated over the years. Now the big attraction is not the Bronx or Kilburn. It’s Sydney and increasingly so Dubai.

The main differences between emigration of over a century ago and that of the present day is that the young Irish of today are highly educated and most of them are graduates with academic degrees. Secondly, many are not leaving Ireland because they have no job. Unemployment was 5% prior to COVID; it has grown these past few years to 7% - still way better than other eras when it approached 20%.

Everywhere the Irish went they took with them their native customs: their music, culture and sport, predominantly Gaelic games, and that has hardly changed over the past 100-plus years. So now, instead of Gaelic Park in New York or McGovern Park, Ruislip, the music, songs and games are thriving in places like Dubai.

The GAA has an international section to deal with overseas and of course Larry McCarthy the President of the GAA emigrated to New York, but has relocated to Ireland for the duration of his term of office.

Kerry Middle East play their games as part of the Middle East GAA club circuit, somewhat like our county board, and it has 16 clubs in its remit across the Gulf Area, mainly in the United Arab Emirates.

Notwithstanding the strong Kerry base, KME are extremely proud to have players from all four provinces as well as the United States and the UK, welcoming people of all backgrounds and skill levels. It is an inclusive club with a strong focus on enjoyment and the social aspect of club membership.

It’s a win-win for members who join KME club, who are one of the only GAA clubs worldwide that do not charge a membership fee. They provide all players with match jerseys. They train one night a week and members only pay for individual training sessions on a “pay as you play” basis.


Interestingly, this fledgling club aims to train and play "The Kerry Way" with an emphasis on skill development and total football. Many Kerry supporters will be delighted with that and will wonder what other elements must be included in The Kerry Way, the fast highway to title No. 38 in Croke Park.

If KME keep that up, will we see the day when an immigrant MEK player will be flown home for a weekend to slot straight into the Kerry team, having played in Dubai?

KME  had their first tournament game last weekend in temperatures of around 25 degrees. We would term that a heatwave in Ireland. The temperature at the Kerry v Dublin game tomorrow night will be about 4 degrees. Brrr!

Dubai is mostly of the Muslin religion so match/tournament days are usually on Saturday/Sunday to avoid the Muslim Sabbath, which is Friday.

KME have set out their stall with lofty aims. They do not confine membership to Kerry women and men.

With the ever increasing number of young Irish women and men emigrating to the UAE, it  doesn’t surprise me in the least that there are more women playing GAA in the UAE than men, because most of the expats there are teachers and here in Ireland the profession is dominated by females.

There are 35,518 female teachers in national schools and just 6,494 male teachers. At post-primary level there are 15,367 female teachers and 6,991 males.

Too many of the talented teaching graduates find it difficult to be appointed to a permanent teaching post after graduating in Ireland so a significant number emigrate, especially to places such as Dubai, an exciting city in the UAE.

As of December 2021, the Middle East GAA has 1,478 Irish members and a further 199 from other nationalities. Breaking the Irish members down further there are 710 playing ladies football, 23 in camogie and 129 dual players. Compare that to the cohort of active male members: out of a total of 775 players, 549 play football and 117 play hurling. There are 109 dual players.

Does it surprise you in light of the statistics shown above that the top occupations of the immigrants are 1,318 for teaching? And you can be sure that the majority of these are females. IT/professional services/sales (89), engineering and construction (59), banking and finance (39), healthcare (38) account for the rest.

The top 3 home counties of these Irish are Cork (90), Kerry (60), and Dublin (54). Is it any wonder that the drain on Kerry GAA players, male and female, to the Middle East and elsewhere, makes it hard to compete with the Dubs?

It has a population of well over a million, making those five-or-six-in-a-rows extra hard to achieve for Kerry and other counties. Food for thought for Kerry sport and indeed for our politicians.

But enough statistics for this week. Part 2 of GAA in Dubai and elsewhere in our next edition on February 11.

Idir an dá linn I expect Kerry to beat Dublin tomorrow night even without the service as of their most valuable defender Gavin White. He will be lucky if the mighty physio Jimmy Galvin has that hamstring injury cleared up by Round 3 of the National League.


Best of luck to Kilmoyley hurlers in their bid for a first ever All-Ireland club title. The same goes for Gneeveguilla in Croke Park. Four goals in the first half of last weekend's semi-final showed what the Sliabh Luachra men are capable of. But tabhair aire. Rosie did climb those hallowed steps for Sam. So, too, can you, but All-Ireland finals are never easy to win.

The cows may not be milked for days if you do it. Give Tim Joe and Jimmy O’Brien a reason to take out the rosary beads. Prayer does work. Good luck.


Almost impossible to look beyond East Kerry but Dingle are best placed to challenge



Adam Moynihan breaks down the groups and likely contenders in the 2023 Kerry Senior Football Championship

Group 1: East Kerry, South Kerry, West Kerry, Templenoe

Defending champions East Kerry are on the hunt for their fourth county title in five years and with a talented squad that’s looking as stacked as ever, only the brave would back against them.

Rathmore’s promotion back to senior level means that Kerry players Shane Ryan and Paul Murphy are missing from last year’s nine-point final victory over Mid Kerry but East Kerry’s strength in depth in all sectors means that no individual player is irreplaceable – excepting the obvious.

David Clifford’s performance for the ages in Fossa’s landmark intermediate semi-final win over Stacks provided a stark reminder of his awe-inspiring talents. Paudie Clifford was excellent too and this year the Two Mile brothers are joined on the panel by four clubmates – another glaring indicator of how far Fossa have come.

James O’Donoghue must be considered an injury doubt after only managing a cameo in Legion’s last outing but his clubmates Brian Kelly, Jonathan Lyne, Darragh Lyne and Cian Gammell are all likely to feature. Current Kerry senior panelists Chris O’Donoghue and Darragh Roche (Glenflesk), Ronan Buckley and Ruairí Murphy (Listry), and Donal O’Sullivan (Kilgarvan) would also be expected to play their part, with plenty of young talent from all seven clubs hoping to break into the starting line-up.

Realistically, the holders should navigate Group 1 with little fuss with South Kerry, West Kerry and Templenoe battling it out for second.

South Kerry and Templenoe played out a draw in the group stage of last year’s championship so there might not be much between them this year either.

West Kerry will be aiming to pick up at least one result after losing all three of their fixtures in 2022.

VERDICT: East Kerry and Templenoe

GROUP 2: Kenmare Shamrocks, Rathmore, St Kieran’s, Feale Rangers

Kenmare came mightily close in the Senior Club final and they should be able to carry that momentum through to the County Championship. Seánie O’Shea is obviously their one bona fide match winner but they’re also strong around the middle third where James McCarthy, David Hallissey and Kevin O’Sullivan put in the hard yards.

The fact that Feale Rangers reached last year’s semi-final indicates that they’re on an upward trajectory. The question now is can they repeat the trick? In 2022 the team was backboned by Listowel Emmets players (seven started that defeat to Mid Kerry) and those lads are coming into this competition in confident form having secured a spot in the still-to-be-played Junior Premier final.

Rathmore are always a tough championship team and the Ryans (Cathal and Mark at midfield and Shane at full forward) are sure to be a handful for any opposition.

St Kieran’s have troubled decent teams in the not-too-distant past – although they lost all three group games (including one against Kenmare) a year ago.

VERDICT: Kenmare and Feale Rangers

GROUP 3: Mid Kerry, Spa, Kerins O’Rahillys, Shannon Rangers

In 2022, Spa found the going tough in a Group of Death that included East Kerry and Dingle. The draw has been kinder to them this time around and they would probably expect to beat Rahillys and Shannon Rangers.

The wheels came off against Dingle in this year’s Senior Club Championship but they impressed the week before against Kenmare. Dara Moynihan, Evan Cronin and Cian Tobin will be important players in attack, with Dan O’Donoghue manning the midfield and Shane Cronin protecting their defensive third from number 6.

Mid Kerry, runners-up last season, will provide their sternest test in this pool. A lot of eyes (including those of Jack O’Connor) will be on Cillian Burke after his heroics for Milltown/Castlemaine in the semi-final of the Intermediate Club Championship. His clubmate Éanna O’Connor (son of the Kerry bainisteoir) will also play a crucial role at centre forward.

Rahillys are facing a relegation playoff if they fail to reach the final of the Kerry SFC and their form in recent weeks would suggest that making it that far is a long shot.

VERDICT: Mid Kerry and Spa

GROUP 4: Dingle, Dr Crokes, St Brendan’s, Na Gaeil

Breaking free of East Kerry’s stranglehold will not be easy but crafty Senior Club champions Dingle are surely best placed to wriggle loose. With four in-form Geaneys in the forwards – Paul, Mikey, Conor and Dylan – they have the tools to trouble any defence, and the return of their established AFL player Mark O’Connor adds solidity going the other way. They also have the incomparable Tom O’Sullivan pulling the strings. As things stand, they are easily the standout club team in the county.

Their Group 4 opponents Dr Crokes will be aiming to improve upon their showing in 2022 when they bowed out at the quarter-final stage. Naturally much will depend on the availability or otherwise of star players Gavin White and Tony Brosnan. White missed the recent Senior Club semi-final defeat to Kenmare with a hamstring injury. Encouragingly, Brosnan (who has been sidelined with a recurrence of a lung problem) was togged for that match, though he did not play.

The Killarney club will be fancied to qualify from their group alongside Dingle, although St Brendan’s – strengthened by the addition of an unknown number of Austin Stacks players to their ranks – could be dangerous.

The other team in the pool, Na Gaeil, are facing a relegation playoff against Rahillys once both sides are finished with the Kerry SFC. Reaching the final of this competition would spare them but Na Gaeil can count themselves unlucky to have been handed a difficult draw for the second year in a row.

VERDICT: Dingle and Dr Crokes

All things considered East Kerry and Dingle appear to be the frontrunners to capture the Bishop Moynihan trophy but there will be plenty of twists and turns along the way, starting this weekend with a full round of fixtures.

All eight matches will be either televised or streamed online. Dingle v Dr Crokes is on TG4. The remaining seven matches are on Clubber.


Friday 8pm Na Gaeil v St Brendan’s (Austin Stack Park)

Saturday 3pm Templenoe v West Kerry (Fitzgerald Stadium)

Saturday 5.30pm Rahillys v Shannon Rangers (Austin Stack Park)

Saturday 7.30pm East Kerry v South Kerry (Austin Stack Park)

Sunday 1.30pm Rathmore v St Kieran’s (Fitzgerald Stadium)

Sunday 2.15pm Dingle v Dr Crokes (Austin Stack Park)

Sunday 3.30pm Feale Rangers v Kenmare Shamrocks (Fitzgerald Stadium)

Sunday 4.15pm Mid Kerry v Spa (Austin Stack Park)

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Kerry’s old dogs ready for Tyrone challenge in All-Ireland final



Adam Moynihan chats to Kerry Masters goalkeeper Tony Lyons ahead of the over 40 All-Ireland football final

Hi Tony. Thanks for speaking to me.

No problem, Adam.

Can you tell me about the Kerry Masters’ season to date?

We played six round robin games in the league phase to see which competition we would be in at the end. There are five championships in all with the senior championship being for teams that finish 1st to 4th in the league, the plate for 5th to 8th and so on. There were 23 counties involved in total this year with new entrants like Armagh, Derry and Limerick.

We won five of our six league games against Limerick, Cork, Waterford, London and Clare. Unfortunately we were well beaten by Dublin during the league phase but that served us well because we knuckled down after that and upped the training to twice a week.

We also got a physical trainer on board from Keel, David Clifford, and he has had a huge influence on our development the last couple of months, allied to Adam and Gary O’Reilly from Glenflesk, and Jason Foley from Keel.

We then beat Derry in the All-Ireland quarter-final by a point, setting up a semi-final against Galway in Limerick which we won by 12 points to 7 a couple of weeks back. it That quarter-final win against Derry was our most pleasing result of the season because we were down a few bodies.

What’s the standard like?

The standard is actually very good. While we don’t have a lot of former Kerry players with us – aside from William Kirby and Aidan O’Mahony – we do have a very good calibre of club player with us, the likes of John O’Connor from Kerins O’Rahillys and John Paul Leahy from Ballyduff for example. We’ve come across some big names in some of the games. Limerick had Ciarán Carey, Dublin had Denis Bastick, Cork had Nicholas Murphy and John Miskella, and Derry had Paddy Bradley.

The first halves of the games are really competitive with the second halves probably becoming more of a war of attrition. The key is having depth in your squad and being able to bring players in and out at the right time as players tire, and I think Adam and his management team have mastered that at this stage.

Would a number of the players have represented Kerry at some level in the past?

We haven’t a huge amount of former Kerry seniors but some of the guys would have represented Kerry at junior and underage level at various stages. What the management team focused on when it became apparent some of the former players weren’t joining was getting good quality club players who could commit and make most of the trainings, and I think that has worked well for them.

What’s key as well is that a lot of the players have been playing very recently for their clubs either at senior or junior level. That’s a huge help.

How are the fitness levels?

Depends on what time of the season you’re talking about! The first few weeks is all about trying to knock off the pounds and get to a certain level of fitness. In fairness to Adam O’Reilly, he places a big focus on the warm-up which is important for players of all ages but especially for those of us over 40.

Very few of the starting 15 would last the 60 or 65 minutes so it’s important that the replacements coming in can add an impetus and build on what the guys before them have done. Last year our panel was probably a little light but we have added well with the likes of Kevin Lynch (Castleisland Desmonds), Mark Crowley (Kenmare) and James Nagle (Keel) – all strong and very fit guys – coming in.

Tell me more about your management team.

Adam O’Reilly is the manager. He came on board this year and brought Gary O’Reilly and Jason Foley with him. Gary looks after the statistics, gear and so on and Jason is a selector as well as taking parts of training at various times. David Clifford came on board about two months ago as physical trainer and he has added greatly to the set-up, improving our fitness levels and tackling in particular.

What’s the most enjoyable part of playing with the Kerry Masters?

A huge part of it, Adam, is playing with guys who you would have tried to knock lumps out of at club level over the years! There’s a big social part to it also with us meeting for a pint or two after games and, as well as that, guys getting back into a dressing room environment and having the craic at training.

For some guys who were never lucky enough to wear the Kerry jersey, there’s a huge sense of pride to put it on at this stage. It’s a real an honour. To be fair to the other teams we played, they have treated us with a lot of respect because they know Kerry teams will play football first and foremost.

Also it’s nice to involve our families, kids, partners, and wives and for them to come to the games. We have noticed a lot more people coming to our matches this season.

Which of your teammates are the best craic?

There are a few fellas like Tim O’Donoghue who thinks he’s hilarious but the jury’s out on that one. I suppose the goalies, myself and Niall Hobbert, would be jokers but then the rest of the panel would tell you the jury is out on us too! Kirby is good craic, as is the former Spa man Brian O’Sullivan Darcy. It’s great fun. I would thoroughly recommend it to any guy 40 or over who wants to play a bit of competitive football and also continue training in what is almost like a club environment.

How would you rate your chances in the final on Saturday? Are you expecting a difficult challenge from Tyrone?

Look, it’s going to be very tough. Tyrone have won the last two All-Ireland finals at Masters level and they have the experience, whereas this is our first go, as it were. They have a solid team built with the likes of Seán Cavanagh, Conor Gormley and Stephen O’Neill in their ranks.

It will be a tall order for sure but we’ll give it our all and the whole panel are chomping at the bit and ready for action.

Kerry v Tyrone takes place on Saturday at 4pm in Roscommon. Follow @KerryMastersGAA on Twitter for more information.


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