A Bit of Final Day Diversion for Those Who Bite their Nails

Friendly Rivalry: Dublin native, Phyllis Mitchell (left) and her daughter, Margaret with neighbour and Kerry supporter, Kitty Sheehy flying their colours in St. Stephen’s Park in Castleisland before the 2009b Kerry V Dublin All-Ireland semi-final game. ©Photograph: John Reidy 3-8-2009

As a duty to readers of The Maine Valley Post and Kerry football followers in general,  I’m providing a bit of diversion here to keep you all from biting your nails from now ’til a quarter to five this evening.

I’ve included a collection of photographs, some of which include youngsters who may well become Kerry heroes on this most historic of all football final days.

Have a Look at the Photographs

Have a look at the boy on the banjo from 2005 and consider his awesome responsibilities in Croke Park today.

Look at the photograph of the Templenoe U-14 team from 2006 and read the caption and look at today’s Kerry team.

Moran, Walsh and Keane

Have a look over the Kerins O’Rahilly’s U-12 Tralee Town League team from September 1999 and see David Moran and Tommy Walsh on the left of the back row and on a team which also included Barry John Keane.

Brennan’s and Skevana’s, Kitty and Phylis

There are also photographs from Brennan’s Bar on the Killarney Road and one from outside Skevena’s Bar on that special Sunday in late September 2004.

There’s one of the late Phyllis Mitchell and her also departed St. Stephen’s Park neighbour, Kitty Sheehy.

They’re gone but not forgotten as there are Dublin and Kerry flags flying today from the top window of the house where they posed for me on the day of the 2009 semi-final. God rest them.

Writing About 2004

I was asked to write about the reaction in the pubs of Castleisland to the 2004 final between Kerry and Mayo.

Kerry football had gone through a relatively rough patch coming into the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final of 2004.

The county would face Mayo in that final and captain Dara Ó Cinnéide had a couple of sources of inspiration driving him on the occasion – and one with Castleisland connections. *Now read on…..

RESTORED PRIDE – THE VERDICT IN CASTLEISLAND

There was little roaring or screeching around Castleisland as Sunday’s All-Ireland Senior Football final unfolded.

There was, though, a sense of deep satisfaction and pride at the manner in which the team achieved the 33rd title for the county.

While the failure of the minors put a damper on proceedings, by the time Colm Cooper struck for that magic goal thing were looking up.

Could be Our Day

There was a feeling from early in the game that this would be our day.

Captain Dara Ó Cinnéide led from the front and appeared to be in awesome form.

Even when Mayo scored that early goal there didn’t seem to be any great panic as the signs were that this had all the makings of a very special day for The Kingdom.

There was talk of the pride of the county being restored by this talented squad of players and while there was a streak of sympathy for a helpless Mayo – it didn’t last too long.

Spectators at Skevenas

Points rained in from all angles and the spectators at Skevenas settled in for a feast of football to gladden the hearts of Kerry people everywhere.

Especially pleasing was the fact that players who had been bitterly disappointed over the past few years were on their game and taking the game by the throat.

In his speech Captain Ó Cinnéide referred to the disappointment of St. Patrick’s Day when his An Ghaeltacht team failed at the same stadium to a Mayo side in the All-Ireland club final.

Leading up to The Game

In the week leading up to the game the search for tickets was as frantic as ever. Stories of people driving all over the country in search of the elusive slips abounded.

One lucky man, Charles Conway from Huddersfield returned clutching a precious ticket after one such search.

Over a couple of pints in Sheila Prendiville’s Bar and Grocery he had take the ticket out of his pocket every now and then and look at it in wonder. He passed it around but never let it out of his sight for a second.

Maurice Fitzgerald’s Point

As the great day drew near people made plans to meet in one location or another. Killarney Road sports shop owner, Vincent Murphy was praying quietly for a draw.

“I’ll never forget the day Maurice Fitzgerald kicked that equalising point against Dublin in Croke Park.

“That was a Saturday evening and we were cleaned out of every type of Kerry coloured garment you could think of. If Maurice came into the shop that week I have given him anything he wanted there,” said Vincent.

What’s All the Fuss About

Skeven’s bar staff member, Cathriona O’Connor wondered what all the fuss was about and told a gathering in the bar on the Saturday evening that she’d be above at home in bed during the game watching The Little House on the Prairie and that she wouldn’t cross the road to see the game.

Down in Brennan’s Bar poor Jason Kettigan – a native of Achill sat in the middle of a bunch of out and out Kerry fans and had to take the heat of that for the Sunday afternoon.

Dara’s Promise to Con

*Dara Ó Cinnéide can point out a promise he made to Con Houlihan here in Castleisland on a cold, wet day last January.

He told the gathering at the River Island Hotel that the team may not have set the world alight in recent times but promised to give Con and his equals something to write about before the year is out.

Sense of Justice

After Sunday’s game was all over there was a sense that justice had been done by the players for themselves, their management team and their county.

Dara’s speech, entirely As Gaeilge, put the cap on it.

Soon after the game Tom Wren and his bicycle were back at Bob Finn’s Corner, God was in his Green and Gold Heaven and all was right with the world.

The points had stopped raining – as the hands on the clocks in the various pubs turned into the straight for five – but the pints kept flowing for many an hour after.

Kerry’s ‘Boys’ Can Do It Today

I am confident that the Kerry ‘boys’ can do it today as they have all the skills and style needed to stand up to any team in the land.

We, in Castleisland, send our best wishes to Donie Buckley and to Peter Keane and the men in charge of the string pulling on the sideline.

If, by chance, the Dubs do the five-in-a-row today we must recognise their achievement for what it is.

We must also realise that they reached this level of greatness by overcoming greatness itself.

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