Sunday evening was a notable one in the history of sporting achievement in Castleisland.
Shortly after Angelus time the local ‘Boys in Green’ arrived home from Tralee and congregated at Tom McCarthy’s Bar as KDL Soccer League and Greyhound Bar Cup double champions.
Later that evening and at about 9.20pm another celebrated, local sports star, Labhaoise Walmsley stepped off Billy Mangan’s coach with her Kerry U-14 Gaelic Football captain, Erica McGlynn from Fossa and their delighted team-mates. They had just won the All-Ireland final against Mayo earlier that day in McDonagh Park in Nenagh.
Labhaoise ended the game with a 3-1 tally out of the 6-8 to 4-9 final score. Though injured in her starting role as mid-fielder, the selectors moved her to full-forward in the second half. Never did a forced move work so well for a team. She scored a point in the first half and bagged three goals in her new role in the second.
Family, extended family, friends and neighbours danced on the street at The Fountain and under the gaze of Con Houlihan – all to the great bewilderment of passing traffic and of a bus-load of over-night guests from the River Island Hotel. They too joined in the celebrations. Photographs of a beaming Labhaoise – cup in arms – and her wildly celebrating, welcoming party will find their way into holiday collections in various parts of the world as a result.
Then it was back onto the bus and on to Killarney where a huge reception with bonfires and Garda escorts awaited Kerry’s latest crop of sporting wonders.
Kerry Ladies Football Committee Chairman, Pat Hartnett sent a note of congratulations to Labhaoise and the team on their great achievement:
“Congratulations and well done to Labhaoise and the Kerry Ladies U-14 team that defeated Mayo in the All Ireland A final in Nenagh on Sunday.
Labhaoise scored 3-1 for her county. This was a classic final in which Kerry came from behind three times to win. Along with MVP Fiadhna Tangney from Legion, who scored 2-6, they played brilliant combination football to take the Mayo defence apart.
The Desmonds player has been a huge part of Kerry’s campaign in the championship this year. Surely another Castleisland superstar has arrived,” said a delighted Mr. Hartnett.