Castleisland native, Dan Kearney did the proverbial picking himself up and dusting himself down after redundancy arrived on his doorstep just over12 months ago.
Apart from the loss of income and all that goes with such a devastating blow, Dan describes it now as ‘a sad day’ in his life.
His eye fell on a Radio Kerry Facebook advertisement and diploma course in radio production – and the rest is his story.
Now, Dan is awaiting confirmation of the broadcast of his first radio documentary: Once Were Champions on the Doc on One slot on RTÉ Radio One. The provisional date of broadcast is Saturday, August 22nd but that remains to be confirmed.
Dan’s road to the radio began with the step on to the production course and that triggered memories of a monumental event in the sporting history of Castleisland.
“March 22nd 1985 was the greatest day in the history of Castleisland Desmonds GAA club.
Desmonds won their first and only All Ireland Senior Football Club title at the expense of Leinster Champions, St Vincent’s of Dublin,” said Dan as he sets the scene for his first behind-the-mic undertaking.
“St Vincent’s were the biggest GAA club in Ireland at the time. It was very much a case of the city slicker Goliaths taking on the small town Davids.
A last minute Donie Buckley goal brought the Desmonds Club, and Castleisland town to heights that it had never been to before. A team of underdogs, from a small town near North Kerry, were the best team in Ireland!!!
Stone Mad for Football
“I was 12 years old at the time, stone mad for football and these guys were my heroes. I travelled to the game in Tipperary town that day with my father. I remember it as a windy cold day, a typical day in March really. It was a tough, dour struggle and St Vincent’s kicked an awful lot of wides . Desmonds stuck to their task and ultimately stole the game at the finish.
“Castleisland Desmonds captain, Billy Lyons was my hero and I would later go on to play football with Billy. I wasn’t great – but that didn’t matter. Billy never stopped encouraging you no matter what level you were at.
“My neighbours from the top of the town, the two O’Connor brothers, Mikey and John ,starred for Desmonds that day. Another brother, Arthur had broken his leg earlier in the season and was a massive loss to Desmonds. Every evening, without fail, I would listen to the lads kicking ball in their garden across the road, honing the skills that would ultimately bring them to Munster and All Ireland glory. I was always envious of them and wished I could be kicking ball with them as well!
Love for Desmonds
“That day in Tipperary copper-fastened my love for Desmonds. I would ultimately play, coach and act on the board over a number of years. I couldn’t escape really!! After finishing school I worked in Moloney’s Cake Shop for three years as a baker alongside Derry Sheehan – a man who did a pile of work for Desmonds over the years.
“Thereafter I was lucky enough to spend 20 years of my life working in The Market House, JK O’Connors Castleisland.
It was here that I met and made friends for life. The late Conor O’Mahony, James Lyons, James O’Connor, Caroline Barry and Cormac O’Mahony were the original staff members when I joined. A sounder bunch of people you couldn’t get!
We had great times, not only was it a great place of employment, but it was also a great place of stories, laughter, hop ball and it provided a marvelous education on how to be patient and get on with people!
A Sad Day
“It was a sad day for me personally when Cormac O’Mahony pulled the shutter down on the Emporium door for the last time.
JK O’Connors had formed a huge part of my life and like I say, I was very happy and proud to work there.
“I spotted an ad for a Diploma in Radio Production at Radio Kerry on Facebook and decided to apply for it. I was accepted on to the course and enjoyed it thoroughly. After a few months I approached my tutor, John Herlihy with an idea for a radio documentary on the Desmonds team of 1985.
Doc on Desmonds
He felt that it was good and that I should go for it. I pitched my idea to the RTÉ Doc on One radio team and they felt that it was a really good pitch and agreed to air it and to help me make it.
My documentary is called Once Were Champions, it chronicles the story of the Desmonds team through their Kerry, Munster and All Ireland campaign in 1984/85 season. A team of champions, of local guys from a small town that took on and beat the might of Dublin City.”