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Tom O’Sullivan and Tony Brosnan start as Keane makes raft of changes

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Tom O'Sullivan, Peter Keane and Tony Brosnan. Pics: Sportsfile.

Dingle defender Tom O’Sullivan and Dr Crokes sharpshooter Tony Brosnan have been named in a much-changed starting line-up for Kerry’s National League Round 3 match against Roscommon.

The pair had missed out on Kerry’s first two matchday squads of the season but they look set to feature from the off in Dr Hyde Park on Sunday. The game will be shown live on the TG4 Player (throw-in 3.45pm) with deferred coverage on TG4 at 5.35pm.

O’Sullivan is joined in the full back line by his namesake, Graham O’Sullivan, and Jason Foley, who moves from No. 2 to No. 3. Regular full back Tadhg Morley drops to the bench.

The versatile Brian Ó Beaglaoich will line out at half back alongside centre back Gavin Crowley and there will be a first start on the other wing for Mike Breen of Beaufort. First choice wing backs Paul Murphy and Gavin White are listed as substitutes.

David Moran and Diarmuid O’Connor retain their spots at midfield as Jack Barry misses out on the 26 for the second week in a row.

Stephen O’Brien gets his first start of the year at right half forward with Ronan Buckley of Listry on the 40 and Paul Geaney at 12 for the third consecutive fixture. Seán O’Shea is named amongst the subs.

There is no place on the panel for Killian Spillane as the Clifford brothers, David and Paudie, are joined in the full forward line by Brosnan. David will captain the side in Paul Murphy’s stead.

As expected, Kieran Fitzgibbon holds on to the No. 1 jersey. Eoghan O’Brien of Churchill has been drafted into the extended panel to provide extra cover in the absence of the injured Shane Ryan, but goalkeeping coach Brendan Kealy continues to deputise as sub keeper.

Liam Kearney of Spa makes his first matchday squad of the campaign.

Roscommon, meanwhile, are expected to name their team tomorrow. Listowel native Conor Cox, who made seven appearances for Kerry before transferring to the Rossies in 2019, was a 50th-minute substitute in both of their matches to date.

Following those defeats to Dublin and Galway, Anthony Cunningham’s side will be facing into a relegation playoff semi-final whatever the outcome of Sunday’s match.

Kerry can mathematically join them in the bottom two but Peter Keane’s men would need to lose by at least 14 points and Galway would also need to beat Dublin.

Kerry team to face Roscommon

1. Kieran Fitzgibbon (Kenmare Shamrocks)

2. Graham O’Sullivan (Dromid Pearses)

3. Jason Foley (Ballydonoghue)

4. Tom O’Sullivan (Dingle)

5. Brian Ó Beaglaoich (An Ghaeltacht)

6. Gavin Crowley (Templenoe)

7. Mike Breen (Beaufort)

8. David Moran (Kerin’s O’Rahilly’s)

9. Diarmuid O’Connor (Na Gaeil)

10. Stephen O’Brien (Kenmare Shamrocks)

11. Ronan Buckley (Listry)

12. Paul Geaney (Dingle)

13. David Clifford (Fossa)

14. Tony Brosnan (Dr Crokes)

15. Paudie Clifford (Fossa)

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Eamonn Fitzgerald: Keane should know 11 of his 15 starters

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Kerry manager Peter Keane speaking with David Moran after the Super 8s match against Mayo in 2019. Pic: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile.

As Kerry ramp up towards the championship, Eamonn Fitzgerald gives his assessment of their preparations to date.

One certainly learns more from defeat that from victory, so what has Peter Keane and his management team learned from the 2020 debacle?

In fairness to the Kerry management, they have opened up the panel, brought some new players into the fold. They will bring them along hoping they will be in contention for places in the resurrection, which occurs when they start the 2021 championship campaign with a home game versus Clare in the Fitzgerald Stadium.

Tomorrow, Kerry will meet Tyrone in the NFL semi-final. Their league title is at stake. Too many supporters give them no credit for winning the 2020 National League.

If Kerry win and Dublin win as expected, there won’t be a league final and it will be a shared title. That is disappointing for the players. The GAA should have done better and ensured they a final had to be played.

IDEAL PREPARATION

Peter Keane and the Kerry players have had the ideal preparation for the championship. Three competitive league games so far and one more tomorrow. The Kerry selectors used the matches wisely, trying out as many players as possible to see which combination will deliver success.

Injuries forced their hands for all games and some established players were rested. That gave game time to so many players.

That huge win over Galway in Tralee was a great morale booster. They ran up a big score, inflicting a 22-point defeat on Galway, the worst ever margin of defeat for the Westerners. It was magical stuff, Kerry going at them from the throw-in and imposing their game on hapless Galway.

In my report I said that one swallow does not make a summer, but that one swallow was most welcome and hopefully the rest of the flight would follow to make a summer of delight in Kerry.

The eagerly awaited clash with the Dubs did not disappoint. Kerry were like the proverbial curate’s egg, good and bad in patches. Leaking three early goals was ominous. Had we learned anything about basic defending?

Dublin went seven points clear and looked odds-on to make it a 10-point win, but Kerry responded magnificently hitting six unanswered points. It looked all up when Dublin converted a late penalty, but David Clifford came to the rescue in the dying minutes of the game to snatch a draw. Lessons to be learned against the top opposition. Kerry forwards are very good, but the defence is still the Achilles heel.

Roscommon proved as tough as ever, but Kerry competed well. Still that goal leakage at the back was a worry. Diarmuid O’Connor improved steadily and will start at midfield v Clare.

Tomorrow’s very competitive match v Tyrone will tell us more.

STARTING 15

I expect at this stage Peter Keane and his selectors have 11 positions filled to start v Clare. They haven’t a surplus of class players and injuries will deprive them of a full hand.

I’ve still to see the Peter Keane gameplan, his stamp on this team. Every manager in any team sport wishes his/her team to play in a certain matter. The defensive tactics in Cork failed. Thankfully, that has changed in the three league games of 2021 and that is encouraging.

The ball is going in much quicker and sooner so that the inside forwards are brought into play. They score freely and once you get the ball inside 50 metres defenders are quite likely to foul. With Seán O’Shea that’s a pointed free in most cases.

I’m not suggesting that the Kerry defenders should send the ball anywhere out of their way. Leave that to supporters of Charlton. Get it out long and accurate setting up an attack, instead of lateral passing and not progressing.

I expect that the Kerry selectors have pencilled in 11 places and the discussion really is for the remaining starting four. They will also will be very mindful of seven other subs. The starting 15 will not be the 15 that will finish. Such is the intensity of the modern game.

DEFENCE

Shane Ryan has been out injured for this league and must be doubtful for the early stages of the championship. Kieran Fitzgibbon has been catapulted into goalkeeping duties and he has performed quite well, especially playing behind a much-maligned defence.

The goalkeeper is just not alone a ball stopper, but he is called into play once the opposition start moving out the ball from the other end of the field. He can see possible developments long before his defenders do. He can see the runner, gaps opening and real danger, before defender do. They are too taken up with marking their own men. The keeper is the eyes and ears of the defenders and must be sure and vocal. It will take time for him to assert his authority and the same goes for the kick-outs. Understandably, he hasn’t always succeeded in picking out a fellow player, be it short or long. That will come. Even Cluxton had to learn.

The defence has been much-maligned and leaking so many goals substantiates that argument. In their defence they are often at sixes and sevens with extra men galloping through, because other players let their men sally up field unmarked. However, I cannot understand why this sextet – and it could be any six – do not realise that their first duty is to mark their own men. Too often they stand off their opponents and gift them the initiative.

These are elite players who have been coached in the art of defence in their own clubs since they were juveniles. Too often, some but not all, do not seem to understand that there really is no defined tackle in Gaelic football, but you can get in close. Use your hands strategically and prevent the attacker scoring or laying it off to a fellow player. That’s all legitimate and there is no need to concede a free. I could name several players at club level who operate this defensive tactic so successfully. Great Kerry backs of the past did it. I think of players such as Paudie Lynch and Mike McCarthy.

The present Kerry defenders are plenty fit enough. They need to be near their direct opponents and be pro-active instead of being reactive. Rarely is there need for a long inaccurate clearance. A hand pass, or preferably an accurate punt kick will set the Kerry forwards in motion.

The Kerry full back line should not be drawn 50 yards from goal and certainly not sprinting out as a link man into the opposition’s territory. How often have we seen it by some of these defenders? Mind the house, don’t leave the goalkeeper exposed and the goal leakage will dry up, or curtailed at worst.

I also feel that Gavin Crowley should not be lured into up field sallies. He has a very onerous job. He must mind his man and also mark space. Tim Kennelly and Mick Morris before him were not classy players but were highly effective centre-backs. No yawning gaps to allow Brian Fenton, Eoin Murchan, or Jack McCaffrey exploit this this tempting mortal sin.

Primary duty for wing backs Paul Murphy and Gavin White is to mark their own man and when the two or three opportunities arise in the game they have the explosive pace to go up field to score or assist in a score. If that run breaks down it is not as serious, as if it happened to a centre back exposing the middle for those Dublin invaders.

MIDFIELD

Midfield has been a problem area for Kerry. David Moran has given Kerry great service over many years, but I contend that he should not be on the starting 15. He may well be on the finishing 15.

I like Diarmuid O’Connor. Big, strong, mobile, well able to score when the opportunity arises, he has a great engine and has youth on his side. Who should partner him?

Jack Barry is in the frame to start, but not Tommy Walsh.

I also expect Kerry to have a Plan B. My preference is to include Seán O’Shea and Paudie Clifford in the half-forward line, one of them centrally and both tasked with helping out at midfield. The older Clifford is mobile, brave and eager and could do a very effective smash and grab possession ploy. He should start. Now he is more even-tempered than he has been in the past. He can open a defence route one and knows when to deliver to the full forward line. I feel that we can get more out of Seán O’Shea.

I hope Peter Keane doesn’t fall back on the Cork gambit where the half-forward line’s role was to go back to their own half-back line helping out. Tracking back is important, but that last-ditch ploy inevitably draws out the inside forward line. Wouldn’t David Clifford’s marker love to see him 70 yards from goal? Even Kerry’s jewel will not score from that position. Again, send in the ball quickly to Kerry’s best scorers, Clifford and whoever is with him. Paul Geaney, Paudie Clifford, Tony Brosnan and Killian Spillane are in the frame to score.

You can have all the fitness in the world, elaborate game plans and astute use of the bench, but those ingredients alone will not propel Kerry forward in a realistic bid for Sam 2021. Pride in the geansaí will oil the winning machine.

Over to you the present Kerry players, whichever 15 starts v Clare, then Tipperary followed by Cork. Bryan McMahon the former Kerry player and songster was spot on with the importance of dúchas and tradition.

“You cannot box or bottle it, nor grasp it in your hand,
But pride of race and love of place inspire a love of land
.”

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Adam Moynihan: So many GAA rules need tidying up

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Seán O'Shea evades the challenges of Brian Fenton and John Small. Pic: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Is there a sport in the world that alters its rulebook more frequently than Gaelic football? Every year when the first ball is thrown in, we’re left scratching our heads, frantically googling “GAA rule changes”, trying to come to terms with the latest updates to our playing protocol.

The changes to the advantage rule are causing consternation at the moment but the irony is that the game already has a number of laws that are either vague or poorly enforced. Below are just a few that come mind.

Surely it would make sense to iron these out before we even think about introducing further amendments.

1. Advanced mark. At its best (I would say less than 10% of the time), the advanced mark is a decent rule that rewards long-kicking and catches close to the goal. At its worst (the remaining 90% of the time), it’s a stupid rule that rewards nothing skills like short-kicking and unchallenged chest-catches. Plus, it abruptly stops the play for no good reason.

Of all the rule changes in recent years, it possibly holds the title of ‘most hated’. It simply has to go.

2. The tackle. You can only use one hand, but sometimes that’s a foul. You can only use an open hand, but sometimes that’s a foul. You can’t pull an opponent, but sometimes you can. You can’t push an opponent, but sometimes you can. What is a Gaelic football tackle? It’s so vague and open to interpretation. From game to game and even from tackle to tackle, you never really know what’s going to be foul and what isn’t.

It’s a difficult one for rule-makers to sort out but it’s not going to sort itself out, that’s for sure.

3. Booking both players when there’s a wrestling match. The ball is coming up the field. As the play approaches, a corner forward and a corner back become entangled and end up rolling around on the ground. Who do you think initiated that contact? Who has something to gain from that wrestling match? It’s almost always the defender. Is the forward supposed to go limp and play dead like they’re being attacked by a grizzly bear?

They have to stand up for themselves, and they shouldn’t be booked for doing so.

4. Feigning injury. The law states that attempting “to achieve an advantage by feigning a foul or injury” is a bookable offence. While the “foul” part can be tricky to spot on the fly, the latter half of the rule is generally far more black and white. Thankfully, players flopping to the ground and holding their faces when they’ve barely been touched is less prevalent in Gaelic football than it is in other sports, but it does happen. Yet how many yellow cards have been brandished for this infraction?

The shame of getting booked for playacting would be a huge deterrent and help stamp this behaviour out for good. It should be punished to the letter of the law.

5. Moving frees too far forward for dissent/impeding the kick. When a free is awarded, the penalty for dissent or impeding/slowing down the taking of the free is 13 metres. How many times have we seen an over-zealous referee bring the ball forward 20 metres or more?

I recall playing a minor game for Legion out in Rathmore. I committed a foul outside of our 65-metre line. For questioning the call, the ref carried the ball forward well inside our 45. For questioning the distance, he brought it in – and this isn’t a joke or an exaggeration – to the 13-metre line. That’s roughly 55 metres of a penalty instead of 26.

That’s an extreme example, granted, but even a five-metre bonus out the field could change the course of a match.

6. Hop balls. From the throw-in at the start of each half, every player bar the four midfielders is meant to be inside the two 45-metre lines. A metre or two encroachment here or there isn’t the end of the world, but in the 2019 All-Ireland final we saw what happens when the rule isn’t properly enforced. At the beginning of the second half, there were two extra players within the 65s by the time David Moran touched the ball down. Another six were just about to enter. One of those six, Eoin Murchan, gathered possession and scored a season-defining goal.

If a rugby or soccer player got away with being 20 metres offside from a kick-off, the referee would be demoted to the lower leagues in a flash.

Hop balls during open play are even messier. The players not contesting should be 13 metres away from the referee. The most you’d normally get is five, and that’s if the referee makes a big song and dance about it. By the time the ball reaches its apex there is invariably a sea of bodies awaiting its return to earth, and the resulting maul is anything but pretty.

Allowing the two nominated players to properly compete for the hop ball would lead to a greater possibility of clean possession, and some football as opposed to a spot of rugby.

7. Steps. Speaking of that Eoin Murchan goal… (No, I will not let it go.) The manner in which players travel with the ball is one of the most fundamental aspects of Gaelic football, yet it is arguably the least properly policed. Four steps is the rule. Four steps before you have to release the ball or hop or solo. But, of course, the inside joke is that it’s not four, is it? Not really. Sometimes five is okay. Sometimes six. You’d get away with seven. Maybe eight. Possibly nine. Ten? Ten is taking liberties. But yes, you could feasibly get away with ten as well.

Stringently enforcing this particular law might seem like a potential nightmare because players are so used to getting away with five or more steps. It would certainly prove contentious at the beginning, but everyone would adjust.

As it stands, it’s just another half-enforced rule that makes you wonder why they bothered writing it down in the first place.

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The foreign game: How soccer took roots in Killarney

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A group of Killarney youths in 1967 after their soccer game in what was then a green piece of ground outside the Fitzgerald Stadium at the St Finan’s end. Front: Donie Kelly, Timmy Looney, Richard Clifford, Mike Looney and Albert Spillane. Back: John Murphy, Dermot Leycock, Gerry Collins, Greg Collins, Philip Brady, John Doyle, Podge Moriarty and Jimmy Clifford.

Eamonn Fitzgerald trawls through the history books and speaks to key players as he traces the origins Killarney’s thriving soccer scene.

The GAA games are the most widely played sports in Ireland,reaching into every parish. But what some readers may not know is that soccer was played in Ireland since the 1870s, some years before the GAA was founded in Thurles in 1884.

Soccer in particular was seen as the ‘foreign game’. Irish nationalism grew from 1905 onwards with the founding of Sinn Féin. A new ban was enacted that forbade any member of the GAA from participating in or even watching ‘foreign’ games. Of course, the foreign games being referred to weren’t all foreign games. In reality, the ban imposed on the GAA membership was explicitly about them playing cricket, hockey, rugby or soccer.

The first big name casualty was Douglas Hyde, who was removed as a patron of the GAA in 1938 following his attendance at an Irish international fixture between Poland and Ireland in Dalymount Park.

TOM WOULFE

The man who led the campaign to remove Rule 27 (aka ‘The Ban’) was Tom Woulfe, a native of Ballybunion. I met him on many occasions in Dublin in the sixties and he convinced me that should be removed. I could see good reasons for the Ban in the early 1900s but, just like Rule 42 which I wrote about some weeks ago, it had outlived its raison d’etre. That was especially so after the 1966 World Cup and TV beaming soccer into Irish homes.

In the early sixties, Killarney man Paul Russell, holder of six All-Ireland medals, argued cogently that the Ban should go. His great friend and club mate Dr Eamonn O’Sullivan was equally strong calling for the retention of the Ban. Eventually the Ban was lifted at the 1971 GAA Congress, a very welcome move for players such as Moss Keane and Kevin Moran, who had memorable careers thereafter as Irish internationals.

In the past I have written of the great progress made by local clubs rugby and soccer clubs. Killarney RFC (founded 1928), Killarney Athletic (1965), Liebherr (1970), Ballyhar Dynamos (1975), Killarney Celtic (1976), Fossa FC (1977), Mastergeeha Rangers (1979), Mastergeeha FC (1999), and MEK Galaxy (2019).

For this week’s column I did some research on Killarney GAA players who defied the Ban. For some it led to suspensions and that scenario lasted for quite a few years after 1971. Officially, the GAA Vigilantes were redundant, but some die-hards still reported GAA players for dabbling in rugby, cricket, hockey and soccer in particular.

In the late fifties one could not get Match of the Day on TV in Killarney, so the schoolboys had to rely on the print media and BBC radio to follow the soccer scene in England for the most part. When they grew older some of them went to Cork or Limerick, where the TV signals could pick up Match of the Day.

During the week young boys (no girls playing at that time, unlike now – thankfully) gathered to play impromptu five-a-side soccer games, usually on Saturdays if the Fairfield was free and again on Thursday afternoons (half day in the Sem and the technical schools).

It wasn’t a full half day as at that time, as the Sem day-boys had to return to school for study at 5.15pm. Lunch was hurried and eaten on the hoof. At max there was a four-hour window of opportunity to live boyhood soccer dreams, emulating superstars such as Pelé, Puskas, Matthews, the Charlton brothers, and Duncan Edwards. The Busby Babes were much-loved and then came that terrible Munich tragedy on February 6, 1958. Out of the ashes, Busby created the great Man Utd team, which to this day has so many followers in Killarney. The late great Weeshie Fogarty was an avid Man U admirer and he also had a small soccer group.

IMPROVISING

No goalposts, just discarded jackets for goalposts and no pitches available. Regulation football, how are you? Lucky to have any ball provided by whomsoever. The usual venues were The Market, The Fairfield opposite the Friary (no fairs on Thursdays), The Sandpit (now High Street car park), Cronin’s field in Tiernaboul, Doyle’s field (a large back garden) in Woodlawn, Park Road, and White Bridge when the Flesk hadn’t overflowed.

Mike Looney (College Street), Richard (Dicko) Clifford, Billy Doyle and others relived those early days with me. Memories are limited and fading. We are conscious of fallibility and will lose out on the names of some. Apologies for soccer rebels we omit. We dug deep for the list of the early soccer players in Killarney.

The Fairfield group included John Doyle (Kilcoolaght, not Celtic), Brian Mulcahy, Greg Collins, Donie Kelly, Donagh Gleeson, Podge Moriarty, Noel Moran, Philip Brady, and others. Joe Grant (Park Road) seemed to be the main organiser, but he did play a little bit as well, as did his brother, Mike.

Some of them also played at The Sandpit in the Oranges v Bananas challenges. There they linked up with Don O’Donoghue, Big Jim O’Sullivan, Donagh Gleeson, Kierney O’Brien, and twinkle toes himself: Sossy (Tom Mullins). His real claim to fame was the day he played with Killarney Athletic and kept a tearaway Rockmount Cork midfield-player scoreless. That boy grew into a man, the famous Roy Keane.)

Also there were Seán Dorgan, Ger Galbraith, Donal Casey, Timmy Kelliher, Tony Fleming and Donie Doyle, who also played on the New Street team, as did his brother, Pat. That was the genesis for the founding of Killarney Athletic in 1965. Dan Harrington, the young Cork guard in town, was the catalyst for founding Killarney Athletic, even if it very nearly caused his transfer to a North Kerry Garda station.

Supt. Batt Harte yielded to pressure from some local diehard GAA stalwarts, who genuinely believed that an official upholder of keeping the peace should not be permitted to promote one of the foreign games where the traditional Irish games would suffer. Fortunately, a local broadminded sportsman interceded successfully, pointing out that this young volunteer was providing a great new community service for youths in Killarney and should be supported.

It takes a great person to admit that he had made a wrong decision, and the Super rescinded his earlier edict.

Incidentally, I recall that one of Barry’s (RIP) own sons preferred rugby to GAA. He was a classmate of mine and practiced penalty-kicking with that trusted ciotóg, while most of us were happier playing traditional football. Diversity, even before it became a buzzword. Sport has room for all.

Happily, Dan Harrington is still alive and ended his working life as a policeman in Manchester, ironically trying to keep the peace with a small number of Man U supporters outside Old Trafford on big match days. I met Dan both in Manchester and in Killarney and he verified the above scenario that enfolded in Killarney in the early sixties. At that time, training for the gardaí lasted only a short few weeks and as he pointed out to me he was a 19-year-old, barely older than the young boys he ‘inspected’ at The Sandpit and elsewhere.

EASTERN SIDE

The Park Road group had players such as the Grants (Joe and Mike), Seán O’Donoghue, Gerry Cronin (a great goalscorer), John Sparling, Donal O’Donoghue, Andrew McCarthy and DD McCarthy.

There was also a small group in the Spa/Tiernaboul area where Michael O’Donoghue (now Fr Michael in the Nottingham diocese) recalled how they played very impromptu five/six-a-side games while they were waiting for the football to start, but it was only a temporary diversion. There was never any doubt about their sporting allegiance when Tadhg O’Sullivan, the revered master in Lissivigeen NS, came along to do trojan work in revitalising the Spa GAA club. Then it was all football. Billy Morris from the same area later came to star with Killarney Celtic.

Woodlawn Rovers was a closely knit community of brothers, who played right up to the seventies. Billy Doyle was the main man here. He remembered playing literally in their big back garden along with his brothers (Gerry and Frank) and the O’Mahonys (Paudie, John and Derry). Paudie went on to win the first of his All-Ireland medals as Kerry goalkeeper from 1975 onwards. Other Woodlawn players were the Aherne brothers, Noel Dillon, Tedso and James O’Connor, Batt O’Connor (who became a well-known soccer referee), Tim Coffey, Jim Ryan, Conor O’Mahony and goalkeeper Gerard Looney, one of the people who got MEK Galaxy underway two years ago. They cater for the Fossa/Mid & East Kerry area and for all age groups, male and female. Tom O ‘Shea (later Killarney Celtic & FAI) also played with Woodlawn. Ger O’Shea and Aidan Kiely came later, when Woodlawn moved to the pitches beside St Finan’s Hospital.

LIEBHERR & FOSSA

Liebherr had very good soccer and football teams in the factory. While the other local soccer teams contained mostly GAA players at the start, Liebherr had some real soccer stars in Aidan McDonald (a Scotsman), Alex Rintoul, and John Beatie. I remember Aidan McDonald as the most skilful soccer player of that era. His playing pedigree was very good, operating at a high level with Pegasus during his college days in UCD. Kevin Moran of Dublin GAA, Man Utd and Ireland was another great Pegasus player. Aidan qualified as an engineer, came to Liebherr, married Margaret Brady and was the key player for Liebherr (later Fossa AFC). He was the man who demonstrated to the GAA/aspiring and perspiring soccer players the basic skills, such as how to trap a ball with either foot, time the run and meet the volley or head it home. With the forehead, as distinct from the head. Surely, a ‘header’ is a misnomer.

The New Street team was backboned by the Culligan brothers (Brendan, Seán and Philip). Ex-sergeant Culligan, their father, was well in with McShain. In his retirement he was a supervisor there so they got permission to play on ‘the farm’ section of the McShain Estate. This paved the way some years later for Killarney Athletic to have the Half Moon as their home venue before moving to their present home in Woodlawn on the banks of the Flesk.

SUSPENSIONS

The Ban was still in vogue up until 1971 and for years later some dual-code players were not picked on GAA teams, because they played the foreign games. I interviewed Tom O’Shea for On the Ball on March 5, 2012. A brilliant speedy half forward with Dr Crokes, he was on the Kerry minor football team and won an All-Ireland U21 medal in 1977. On that team with him were captain Ogie Moran, Jack O’Shea, Charlie Nelligan and Bomber Liston.

“I was eligible for the next two years and was again selected in 1978 for the first round game against Tipperary,” Tom said in 2012. “However, following this match the chairman of the East Kerry Board at the time brought it to the attention of the County Board that a player on the U21 squad ‘did not owe his full allegiance to the game’ – I have never forgotten those words. This was a reference to the fact that I was also playing soccer.

“The result of this is that I ended up suspended for a month and dropped from the panel and although I continued playing with the Crokes for another five or six years (winning three O’Donoghue Cups and two U21 County Championships), I was never again selected for a Kerry squad.”

That U21 team was the basis of the subsequent Golden Years of Mick O ’Dwyer’s all-conquering era. Could O’Shea have been one of that all-conquering Kerry team?

Read Part 2 of Eamonn Fitzgerald’s deep-dive into the early days of Killarney soccer in next week’s Killarney Advertiser.

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