This week ex-professional footballer Brendan Moloney speaks to Adam Moynihan about his career in England, his toughest opponents, and coaching back home in Kerry.
Hi Brendan. Thanks for speaking to me.
No bother, Adam.
How are you coping with the lockdown?
It’s very frustrating, to be honest with you. But it’s affecting everyone and we have to be respectful of what’s going on. Hopefully if we live by the rules it won’t be too long before we come out the other side of it.
You’re currently coaching the Kerry U17s and the Killarney Athletic seniors. Are you enjoying it?
Yeah, I love it. I had no interest in coaching at the start of my career but that changed as I got older. When the injuries started coming, that kind of made the decision for me.
What is it about coaching that appeals to you?
I like putting a plan in place, working on it, and then seeing it come together on a matchday. When you work on something and then see it happen, you get a thrill. And I think you get a bug for it.
What’s your long-term goal in terms of coaching?
Long-term, I’d love to give it a go cross-channel, but obviously it’s not as easy as that. You need to prepare and learn as much as you can. Opportunities don’t knock too often. When you do get the chance, you have to be ready to take it.
How would you rate the standard in Kerry at the moment, both underage and senior? Are there players who have what it takes to go pro?
This is my first year with the Kerry U17s and there are some very good players. With regards to making it, it’s hard to tell. It takes a huge amount of dedication and discipline. You never know, hopefully in the next few years we’ll start to see players coming out of Kerry and going on to a professional set-up. They’re getting good coaching from a young age and they have great facilities in Tralee.
At senior level, Celtic are way out in front. Ourselves, Castleisland and Listowel would be next and then there’s a big drop to the other teams. Last season the boys did so well to get to three finals, and that was down to their commitment.
Celtic have had a core group for a number of years and they have added very good players from around the county, so realistically they expect to win everything domestically. Hopefully next season, if the commitment is there again from our lads, the gap won’t be as big as people think. And maybe there will be a league or a cup there for us in the next few years.
What’s your happiest memory from your playing days?
Definitely winning the League Two title with Northampton in 2015/16. We had a good group of lads, the banter was great, everyone got on, and we won the league handy enough. It was just one of those years when we went into games knowing we were going to win.
You played under some very high-profile managers. Who was your favourite?
Chris Wilder at Northampton. He was a brilliant manager. I can see why he has had so much success with his hometown club, Sheffield United. He used to get the best out of everyone, but he had that harsh streak about him as well. He had everyone’s respect and you just wanted to go out and do well for him.
Who was the best player you ever played with?
Wes Morgan. I played alongside him at Forest and he would just make you look good. An unbelievable defender. You just knew he was never going to have a bad game.
Toughest opponent? I seem to recall a duel with Zlatan at one stage…
Yeah, I was lucky enough to play against Man United in the League Cup that time with Northampton, so I could pick any of those players. They put out a strong team and Rooney and guys like that were playing. They were just on a completely different level. It was an unbelievable experience.
Back in my Forest days, Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer (Swansea) were so direct and tricky. Very tough to play against.
Any embarrassing moments? Did you have to do initiations at any of your clubs?
Yeah, I used to hate doing them. It’s at every club you go to. Normally it was on the first away trip. You’d be down for dinner at six/half six and next thing you’d hear the glasses being tapped. It was awful. I used to even hate watching other people doing it!
What was your go-to song?
Ah, anything! I’d lash out Stand By Me or Wonderwall, anything you could get away with for 30 seconds. You’d try and pick a song that the boys would clap along to! They were just always terrible.
Who’s the most famous person in your contacts?
One name I saw there, and he is absolutely flying at the moment, is Dominic Calvert-Lewin. He was on loan with us for six months at Northampton. I haven’t spoken to him since, and he probably doesn’t even have the same number!
Favourite restaurant for takeaway/delivery?
Favourite spot for a pint?
Kate Kearney’s as well. Or if I go into Killarney, The Laurels.
And last one… Which of your Killarney Athletic or Beaufort clubmates would you least like to get stuck in an elevator with?
Any of them who are Liverpool fans!
Crokes hurlers set for senior championship bow
Sunday will be a momentous day for Dr Crokes GAA as the club’s hurlers are set to participate in the Kerry Senior Hurling Championship for the first time.
The Crokes famously won the Intermediate in 2020 and after exercising their right to graduate to the top level, they now face into the daunting task of negotiating the rough and tumble of the top tier.
The Killarney club will take on four-time champions Abbeydorney in their first Group 1 pool game, with throw-in at Austin Stack Park at 1.30pm. O’Dorney are sure to provide a stern test; they reached the last four of last year’s competition before exiting at the hands of eventual winners Kilmoyley.
Two teams from each of the three groups of three will progress to the knockout phase.
Crokes will be hoping that the likes of Kerry senior Michael Lenihan and his brother Jack can lead the way on Sunday, while Kerry U20 footballer and accomplished soccer player Tom Doyle is also considered to be a real talent.
Elsewhere in the Kerry SHC, champions Kilmoyley will get the defence of their title up and running against Ballyheigue tonight at 7.30pm, and last year’s beaten finalists Causeway will do battle with St Brendan’s on Saturday at 7pm.
Neighbours Spa and Crokes vying for Division 1 final
Killarney rivals Spa and Dr Crokes will face off in Round 5 of the Kerry Senior Football League on Saturday with the winners advancing to the Division 1 league final. The match will take place in Lewis Road at 5pm.
Crokes currently lead the way in Division 1A with seven points from four matches, with Spa one point behind having won two, drawn one and lost one of their four fixtures to date. The new competition structure, which was devised to reduce the amount of games and travel required for all teams involved, sees the top team from each pool (1A and 1B) meet in the decider.
In the other pot, Kerin’s O’Rahilly’s are favourites to finish first as they currently sit on top of the pile with seven points. The Killarney Legion are still in contention – they find themselves just one point behind in second – but Rahilly’s will fancy themselves to win their final group phase match against bottom-of-the-table Beaufort. Legion travel back west to play An Ghaeltacht in Gallarus.
Beaufort have already been relegated to Division 2 for 2022 on the back of four consecutive defeats and they will be joined in D2 by the bottom-placed team in Division 1A. Kilcummin currently occupy that position but they can claw their way out of danger with a final day victory over Austin Stacks.
The second-from-bottom team in each pool will also meet in a playoff to decide the third and final team to be relegated to Division 2. These places will go down to the wire with John Mitchels and Stacks in the firing line in 1A and Rathmore, Kenmare Shamrocks and An Ghaeltacht all potential candidates in 1B.
In the second division, Castleisland Desmonds can secure their promotion back to the top table by defeating Na Gaeil in their final fixture, thereby securing top spot in Division 2A. It’s all to play for in 2B as Templenoe, Gneeveguilla and Ballymacelligott are joint top on six points apiece.
The runners-up in both pools will also play each other to decide the third team to be promoted with Glenbeigh-Glencar and St Mary’s in contention in 2A. They will duke it out for that final spot when they meet in Glenbeigh on Saturday; in fact, the winners will secure automatic promotion if Desmonds lose to Na Gaeil in Tralee.
The Dr Crokes B team are currently facing the chop as they sit bottom of 2A on zero points, but they can avoid automatic relegation by beating the team directly above them (Ballydonoghue) away from home on Sunday. Listry can do likewise in 2B if they can get the better of Dromid Pearses in Listry. If Crokes and Listry do the needful, they will meet in a relegation playoff to see who will retain their Division 2 status.
Churchill and Listowel lead the way in Division 3A with Laune Rangers, Milltown/Castlemaine and Brosna in the running in 3B. Glenflesk are safe but the same cannot be said of Currow, who will need to defeat St Senan’s to have any hope of avoiding the drop.
Firies are in pole position in Division 4A with Renard and then Fossa gunning for top spot in 4B. Stacks B and Cordal are in pole position in Divisions 5A and 5B, and it’s all to play for in Division 6 as the B teams of Dingle, Firies, Fossa, Kenmare, Glenflesk and Rathmore, as well as the Dr Crokes C team and Tuosist, are all still in the mix for promotion.
Full fixture list and tables can be found on the Kerry GAA website and across the Kerry GAA social media channels.
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