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Tommy Walsh: I always felt the fans’ support

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by Adam Moynihan

Tommy Walsh has spoken of his positive relationship with Kerry supporters over the course of a memorable intercounty career that ended with his retirement in 2021.

The Tralee native won two All-Irelands and an All-Star during his time in green and gold and he was a popular figure amongst the county’s football fans, often receiving big ovations when introduced off the bench in recent seasons.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser at the launch of Guinness 0.0’s ‘Yours for the Taking’ campaign, Walsh said that although Kerry supporters have a reputation for being critical, he always found them very encouraging.

“I wouldn’t say I felt [the support] any more than any of the other lads, but I always got on very well with Kerry fans. I live in Tralee and I travel around the county and I always enjoy my interactions with them.

"Whether I was coming off the bench or I was starting, I always felt their encouragement and support, and it does make a difference.

“When people are wishing you well and you’re seeing the signs and things like that around the place, it always gives you that extra pep in your step.

“Kerry supporters would have a name for being critical, but I suppose that’s because they know their football, and they have high standards from what has happened historically. I meet people walking around the streets and everyone is generally very, very positive. They’re only wishing you well. But there is always going to be expectation there.

“The lads inside [in the Kerry squad] are well aware of that as well. Hopefully they can have a good year, and then the expectation will be even higher next year. That’s just the way it works.”

The Kerins O’Rahillys player believes that the current Kerry team are in a “good place” heading into the All-Ireland series. Should supporters be optimistic?

“Kerry fans are always optimistic, aren’t they?! [The team’s form] creates a buzz around the place and everyone in Kerry knows that it’s All-Ireland champions or nothing. That’s always the way it’s been. If you don’t win it, it’s a bad year. This year will be no different.

“The boys look like they’re in a good place. I’m sure they’re working hard at the moment and hopefully it will be a successful 2022 for them.”

Read the full interview in Friday’s Killarney Advertiser

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Rising cycling star selected for Belgium Project

By Sean Moriarty Killarney cyclist Sam Bolger (18) has been selected as one of four riders for the Belgian Project – one of the most prestigious stepping stones for Irish riders […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Killarney cyclist Sam Bolger (18) has been selected as one of four riders for the Belgian Project – one of the most prestigious stepping stones for Irish riders with ambitions to turn professional.

Northern Ireland-based Belgian Danny Blondell is the man behind the project.

For the last 15 years Blondell selects between four and six Irish riders and sends them to Belgium where they stay with local families and contest pro and semi-pro races.

As a race commentator Blondell is well placed to decide who is deserving of inclusion in the project.

Over the first six months of the year he makes decisions while attending early season races.

Those lucky enough to get selected go to live and race in Belgium for the second six months of the year.

Bolger, from Lewis Road, was selected after winning the junior race in the Cycling Ireland National Road Series in Mayo in March and the Orwell Stage Race in County Wicklow in June.

“He is delighted, it is a very big deal,” his father Paul told the Killarney Advertiser.

“He has had a very good year and the wins in Mayo and Wicklow secured the Belgium Project.”

Bolger will head to Belgium in late July and after to the Junior Tour of Ireland which takes place in County Clare between July 12 and 17.

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The flying Kerryman who never forgot where he came from

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by Eamonn Fitzgerald

Tom O’Riordan RIP

Tommo (as he was affectionately known) died last week at the grand age of 84. He had been suffering from Parkinson’s for a number of years but the Ardfert native was as resilient in the face of his illness as he was when he was running.

He succeeded on many occasions in track and cross country races in Ireland and far afield, and he dealt with that health hurdle with typical stoicism, accepting the irony of his doctor’s prognosis: Parkinson’s won’t kill you but you will die from it.

I first met him in Belfield in the early seventies. While we were training hard with UCD football team he was on a training spin on the same campus.

His competitive career was over having represented Ireland in the 1964 Olympics. He didn’t make the final and he always said in later life that he was disappointed he didn’t make it because he knew he was good enough.

After those Olympics he was appointed as athletics reporter for the Independent. He also covered a lot of football matches and that’s where I got to know him. He was highly respected by players and managers. They trusted him, knowing that he wouldn’t betray confidentiality and publish half-truths or training session secrets. In particular, Mick O’Dwyer gave him carte blanche to the Kerry training sessions. He became a great friend of Páid Ó Sė, who was a regular visitor to his home in Dublin. I have no doubt that he convinced Páidí to use some of those merciless runs up hills to build stamina. Ask the Westmeath men! Tom used these quite a lot in his training for cross-country races.

Heffo didn’t give him the same open-door policy as O’Dwyer did. At Parnell Park, the Dub’s boss operated a closed-doors system for the Dublin training sessions.

Tommo first hit the headlines as a student in his native Kerry and then secured an athletic scholarship to  Idaho University. He impressed, winning races in the majority of the US states.

He was a winner in Ireland on track and cross country, breaking at least 14 Irish records.             

He was very influential as manager of the Irish  cross country team in Limerick preparing John Treacy for victory. They became great personal friends and Treacy often stayed with O’Riordan.

He was a fine journalist and stories abound of him running and double jobbing by covering the particular race for the Indo. More often than not he was writing about a race where he was the winner but he was anything but a self publicist.

He had deadlines to meet so he would create the report and then seek out the nearest telephone to file his report while still wearing his running gear. His son Ian O’Riordan is also a very fine reporter of athletics for the Irish Times.

May Tommo rest in peace.

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