‘I think we’ll do it alright this time’ – James O’Donoghue

James O'Donoghue AIB Castleisland 18-8-2016
Kerry star footballer and AIB staff member, James O’Donoghue (right) pictured with young fans, Evan Kelliher and his sister, Alanna from Cordal. With Ronan McAuliffe (left) and Ger O’Connor, Castleisland AIB branch manager and Alex Fleming, Farranfore. Alex is an AIB Student Account holder and a 2016 All-Ireland Colleges Senior Basketball medal holder with Castleisland Community College. ©Photographer: John Reidy

While his attention and thoughts may have been on accounts and savings and student loans here in Castleisland last week, Kerry star, James O’Donoghue was quietly confident about today’s big challenge.

The Kerry forward was greeted at the Castleisland AIB branch office by Ronan McAuliffe and manager Ger O’Connor and as many local fans of all ages as he could manage to meet during his visit.

One of the latest GAA stars on the ambassadorial / employee roll of the bank, O’Donoghue couldn’t avoid fielding anxious supporters’ questions about Kerry’s chances against an apparently invincible Dublin.

On the Verge of the Big Game

Even though the game was a week-and-a-half away from the time of his visit to Castleisland, the topic was as lively as if we were on the verge of the big game – as we are today.

“I think we’ll do it alright this time,” was the line most of the gathered fans are still clinging to as we head down the tunnel of anticipation and white knuckles that only a Kerry and Dublin game in Croke Park can generate.

The Holy Ground

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The Maine Valley Post vox pop responders, left from top: Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Danny Healy Rae, TD, Cllr. Bobby O’Connell. Martin Ferris, TD, Gerry Harrington and Gerard Murphy. ©Photographs: John Reidy

His AIB colleagues in Castleisland will be behind him all the way today as he and his team-mates step onto the holy ground of Croke Park for the 3-30pm throw-in.

This is a do-or-die game for many of this generation of Kerry players and the management team.

James O’Donoghue’s new, young friends and admirers who encountered his friendliness and genuine warmth at the AIB student promotions day in Castleisland will also be part of the white knuckle fraternity this afternoon.

During a quick dial-around the county and beyond, I asked the following for their predictions of the score in today’s game: Poet and writer, Gabriel Fitzmaurice gave me a score of Kerry 2-11 Dublin 1-18.

Danny Healy Rae, TD, while predicting a Kerry win on a score of 2-17 to 2-16, said that he wanted to see the Kerry lads kicking the ball long and not get caught by carrying the ball and tiring themselves out.

“Don’t be passing the ball back and five feet to the next man. Kick the bleddy thing into the forwards and in around the square and then we’ll see a game of football as we knew it. I hope they win,” said Deputy Healy Rae.

Up for Grabs

Castleisland based FG Councillor Bobby O’Connell also goes for a two-point Kerry victory to the tune of:  2-11 to 2-9.

Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris is travelling up for the match and he feels that Kerry will take the game by two points. “I don’t know if the team in the papers this morning is the one that will start, but I think Kerry will do it on a score of 2-13 to 1-14.

Sligo based Kerry man and Fiddler supreme, Gerry Harrington wouldn’t be drawn on a score because he feels that he doesn’t know what the Kerry team is capable of. It’s up for grabs of course and it’s the All-Ireland final in many ways,” said Gerry without a hint of apology to the hordes of the hopeful in Mayo.

Gerard ‘Gerdie’ Murphy will be all out again in his ‘Kerry Suit’ in Dublin today. Even so, he wasn’t letting his heart rule his head when asked to predict a score.

“I’m afraid they’ll get the better of us again and I’d say it’ll end up at 1-15 to 2-14.

Newspaper Predictions

I don’t think I’ve seen or heard of a newspaper article by journalist or expert which gave Kerry a chance against the perceived might of the Dublin machine. They have been wrong before and on several occasions too.

I was listening to a panel of experts talking on RTÉ Radio One on Sunday evening after Mayo had beaten Tipperary in the other semi-final. Collectively, they wondered how Mayo would cope with Dublin in an All-Ireland final. And not as much as a how’s your father to Kerry and its supporters.

As the fate of our heroes is decided in Croke Park against The Dubs this afternoon, we’ll all cling, white knuckled and for as long as possible, to James O’Donoghue’s prediction: “I think we’ll do it alright this time.”

While there has been a massive domination of coverage on the senior game today, we must remember that our minor team in also involved in an All-Ireland semi-final. They take on Kildare in the game immediately before the Kerry V Dublin game. May God and every hop of every ball be with them.

The Kerry team: 1. Brian Kelly, Killarney Legion; 2. Shane Enright, Tarbert; 3. Mark Griffin, St Michaels/Foilmore; 4. Killian Young, Renard, (Captain); 5. Brian Ó Beaglaoich, An Ghaeltacht; 6. Peter Crowley, Laune Rangers; 7. Tadhg Morley, Templenoe; 8. Kieran Donaghy, Austin Stacks; 9. David Moran, Kerins O’Rahillys; 10. Paul Murphy, Rathmore; 11. Colm Cooper, Dr Crokes; 12. Donnchadh Walsh, Cromane; 13. Stephen O’Brien, Kenmare; 14. Paul Geaney, Dingle; 15. James O’Donoghue, Killarney Legion. Subs: 16. Brendan Kealy, Kilcummin; 17. Darran O’Sullivan, Glenbeigh-Glencar; 18. Bryan Sheehan, St Mary’s; 19. Barry John Keane, Kerins O’Rahilly; 20. Marc Ó Sé, An Ghaeltacht; 21. Jonathan Lyne, Killarney Legion; 22. Fionn Fitzgerald, Dr. Crokes; 23. Anthony Maher, Duagh; 24. Aidan O’Mahony, Rathmore; 25. Michael Geaney, Dingle and 26. Johnny Buckley, Dr Crokes.

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