There was magic in the air, that’s for sure. That’s the thing about Kilmoyley, we suppose, they very much march to their own tune. They care not for what people expect them to do, they care not for how grim a situation might appear to be, they keep on keeping on.
hey play for each other. They play for their parish. Their people and, above all else, they play for their manager – the legendary John Meyler. Whatever it is, the Wexford native and former Kerry hurling manager has got it.
A sprinkling of star dust or whatever else it is, he has it. What’s clear is he knows better than anyone how to get a turn out of a bunch of Kilmoyley men. It is the former Cork hurling manager’s home-from-home in so many ways.
He’s one of them now and they love him for it. For sure they loved it when he led the club to a first ever – and a first ever for a Kerry club – Munster intermediate club title with a stunning victory over Cork kingpins, Courcey Rovers.
Meyler himself, wasn’t present in the Gaelic Grounds for the club’s day of days, but you can be 100% sure that his finger prints were all over that success.
His right hand man, Maurice Murnane, certainly didn’t put a foot wrong as stand-in boss, guiding the underdogs to a famous victory.
It was a really top-quality contest too with the Rebel county representatives. Nip and tuck pretty much all the way. Except for in the second half when twice Courceys opened out four point leads.
Both times, however, the Kerry senior champs struck back to level the game up – thanks to late scores by Robert and Daniel Collins – for 0-17 each at the end of regulation time. In extra-time with Maurice O’Connor turning on the style Kilmoyley ran out 0-24 to 0-21 winners.
Incredible stuff, a glass ceiling shattered and an All Ireland semi-final to come two weeks down the line against Banagher of Derry.
The game, played in the Connacht GAA Centre of Excellence in Bekan outside Ballyhaunis in County Mayo, was another cracker and again Kilmoyley were fully tested and again responded magnificently well to the challenge posed to them.
A pair of goals – one in each half – from inside man Maurice O’Connor decided the game on a day when Jordan Brick played particularly well. 2-15 to 1-12 in favour of the Kerry men to set up an All Ireland final date with Kildare and Leinster champs Naas in February at HQ.
Jack’s Army shows some early intent
A season that ended in the most glorious July sunlight, began in the dark of Austin Stack Park on a crisp Wednesday evening.
The McGrath Cup is many things. Box-office is one thing you wouldn’t have thought it would be. Yet the 2022 event defied all expectations. There was a curiosity to see how the Kingdom would fare under their new management team, headed by the legendary Jack O’Connor, and bolster by figures such as Micheál Quirke and Tyrone man Paddy Tally.
So out people turned, in reasonably stubstantial numbers, to see the Kingdom in their new guise. The team was strong right out the gate with players of the calibre of Jason Foley, Stephen O’Brien and David Clifford selected, but it was on the more fringe players that interest lay. Guys like Dan O’Donoghue, who really hit the ground running in January, guys like Stefan Okunbor and guys lke Pa Warren.
At the end of play the Kingdom ran out comfortable first round victors over Limerick, 2-23 to 0-6 – the Clifford brothers with a goal each – and like that the second coming got off to the best possible start. A week later the Green and Gold comfortably saw off Tipperary in Templetuohy (on another dark Wednesday evening) 1-23 to 0-5 to set up a final showdown with Cork, also under new management.
The clash of Kerry and Keith Ricken’s Cork drew a substatial crowd to Fitzgerald Stadium. Probably the biggest crowd that’s even turned out for a McGrath Cup fixture – 8,000 people, a sell-out!
The Kingdom comfortable saw off the Rebel county in the final in Beauty’s Home, 2-17 to 0-11(goals from Dingle due Tom O’Sullivan and Paul Geaney). It meant that Kerry travelled to Newbridge a week later for Jack O’Connor’s first return to Kildare since stepping down as manager there in 2021 with a pep in their steps.
Kildare, maybe wanting to show O’Connor what he was missing after his defection, gave as good as they got and really could have won the game, instead having to settle for a draw as Kerry looked a little undercooked despite their run to the McGrath Cup crown.
Still it was far from reason to panic, with the Dubs coming to town a week down the line.
Listowel’s Savannah McCarthy started off the new year in a positive fashion by signing a new contract with Galway WFC for another season in the National Women’s League.
Former Ireland women’s rugby captain Ciara Griffin signed up with Castleisland Desmonds ahead of their All Ireland Intermediate Club Football Championship semi-final against Castlebar Mitchels. There was disappointment for the Desmonds in that game as they came up short, 3-7 to 2-7 in Castlebar.
Brosna’s Tim Murphy – the former chairperson of the Kerry County Board – was confirmed as the new vice-chair of the Munster Council after Cork’s Bob Ryan withdrew from the contest to succeed Liam Lenihan.
There was heartache for Clanmaurice as they relinquished their All Ireland Junior Club Camogie title with a three-point defeat at the hands of Westmeath outfit Raharney, 1-7 to 0-7. The North Kerry side were left to rue a number of missed chances.
Just weeks later Clanmaurice got back on the horse to claim yet another Munster title, this time the 2021 staging, with a 0-9 to 0-5 victory over Waterford’s An Rinn, and with a 3-12 to 0-4 victory over London’s Tara
The Kerry senior hurlers got their new era under Stephen Molumphy off to the best possible start with a 0-17 to 0-14 victory over Colm Bonnar’s Tipperary. Before the game the Kingdom weren’t expected to challenge so closely the Munster blue-bloods, down as they were a number of regulars from the Fintan O’Connor era, but right away they showed that under Molumphy they were a united bunch.
A week later they were brought back down to earth somewhat with a 4-29 to 0-11 defeat at the hands of reigning Munster and All Ireland champions Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds, but there was absolutely no shame in that as the Treaty are very much out on their own. Kerry stuck the course, didn’t wilt and showed what they’re all about.
Garvey’s Tralee Warriors claimed their first ever National Super League success with a battling 88 points to 74 victory over C&S Neptune at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght. It competed a rapid rise to the top for the club, which was formed only in 2016.
“The beauty with Tralee Warriors,” head coach John Dowling said after the final.
“Is that it’s a franchise, one team in Tralee, everyone is behind it, sponsors Garvey’s, O’Neills, Premier, they’re all behind it, all pulling it together and it is driving Tralee basketball to another level that I didn’t think it could go to.” The Warriors had secured their passage to the National Cup Final with a 79 to 70 victory over DBS Éanna at the Neptune Stadium in Cork.
Pat Spillane Junior made an inter-county switch to play with his mother’s native Sligo, it was confirmed this month. The Templenoe man, son of the legendary Pat Senior, had been playing his club football in Dublin with St Judes where he consistently impressed.
Austin Stacks’ bid for the All Ireland senior club championship ran aground in the Munster final where they came up against a doggedly determined St Finbarrs outfit in Semple Stadium. The Rockies would have been disappointed with how they left the Cork kingpins get away from their in the first half, they were six down at the break, but showed not inconsiderable courage to come back strongly in the second. At one stage hitting five points unanswered. Alas it was a touch too little too late, as the Barrs rallied to take the title 2-9 to 1-10.
“My reaction first of all is pride,” says Rockies boss Wayne Quillinan.
“They battled. We said let’s win the third quarter, we did that. We didn’t get a break or two going into the last quarter, but we got to look back at our season and be proud of it.
In the Munster intermediate and junior club finals there were comprehensive victories for the county’s representatives with Na Gaeil big winners over Corofin of Clare on a scoreline of 6-15 to 1-12 at Mallow in the intermediate grade. In the junior final Gneeveguilla also enjoyed a comprehensive victory with a 4-18 to 1-6 victory over Tipperary side Ballina. Gneeveguilla carried on that form to see off Cavan’s Denn 5-8 to 1-12 in the All Ireland semi-final, while Na Gaeil (who lost Stefan Okunbor to injury) missed out to Derry’s Brian Ógs 0-7 to 2-6.
MTU, Kerry got their Sigerson Cup campaign off to a positive start with a 1-13 to 0-11 victory over a fancied UCD side in Tralee. They followed up a week later with a 4-9 to 1-10 victory over MTU, Cork as momentum gathered. In the quarter-final they saw off Maynooth 4-15 to 0-7.
Former Footballer of the Year James O’Donoghue confirmed his retirement from inter-county football in an interview with Newstalk. The Legion star stating simply “it’s all over, all over bar the shouting”.
Austin Stacks nominated midfielder Joe O’Connor to be Kerry captain in 2022.
Fossa’s Paul Nagle and his pilot Waterford Craig Breen enjoyed the best possible start to life with M-Sport Ford by taking a podium position in their very first outing and no the world-famous Monte Carlo rally no less.
Former Kerry hurling captain John ‘Tweak’ Griffin of Lixnaw was snapped up by Cork hurling boss Kieran Kingston to be a coach with the Rebel county.
In the semi-finals of the Corn Uí Mhuirí St Brendans, Killarney saw off Hamilton High 1-20 to 3-13 AET, while Tralee CBS accounted for Skibbereen 4-18 to 1-6.