Some Kerry Team if they were to take the field
A South Kerry “Kerry” Senior Championship 15
Kerry Sports Hub have picked their South Kerry “Kerry” Championship team from all those who have worn the green and gold at Senior Championship level over the years. Those players who made the league sides were not considered but that did not make the final decisions any easier.
We hope to roll out different teams over the course of the next few weeks while we are short on live sport. We hope that you will stick with us until then and enjoy some of the reading during this tough time for all.
1. Donal Marcus O’Neill (St Marys)
The man with the three clubs St. Mary’s, Killarney Legion and Firies as his job carried him across the county but there is no doubting that St. Mary’s became his home.
He played 7 championship games for Kerry and is still considered as one of the best Kerry goalkeepers never to win an All Ireland Senior Football Medal.
O’Neill created a “Saipan” of his own in 1957 long before the days of Roy Keane when he refused to travel to Waterford in a dispute over the captaincy and received a six-month ban from the county board. Kerry lost to Waterford 2-5 to 0-10 as Austin Stacks Tim Barrett an outfield player at the time went into goal.
Considered fiercely brave and agile O’Neill fought back from a serious knee injury as he went onto win 4 county senior football titles with Dick Fitzgerald’s (Killarney combination) in 1951 before his move to Cahiricveen which saw him in goal in South Kerry’s wins in 1955, 1956 and 1958.
2. Jerome O’Shea St. Mary’s (1952 – 1961)
A comfortable corner back with a talent for fielding who won 3 All Ireland senior football medals in a careers that spanned from 1952-1961. Was also part of the golden South Kerry era that won three county titles in four years in the mid-fifties.
Upon retirement from playing, O’Shea presented RTÉ’s first weekly Gaelic Games television show ‘GAA World of Sport’.
He later served in a variety of roles as an economic advisor and representative of the Irish government at the EEC and the United Nations.
His son Conor went onto play Rugby for Ireland and later managed the Italian Rugby team
3. Mark Griffin St. Michaels/Foilmore (2013-2019)
An All Ireland winner in 2014 Griffin played most of his football for Kerry in the full back position despite at times being considered a more comfortable halfback.
Having come from the All Ireland winning Hogan Cup Colaiste Na Sceilge team in 2008.
Griffin played the whole set for Kerry at Minor, Under 21 and then Senior until his departure this year at just 29 years old citing work commitments.
4. Killian Burns Sneem (1996-2000)
If ever teak proved tough then it came in the shape of Killian Burns of Sneem who played 13 championship games for Kerry and was part of the 1997 team that finally ended the dreaded drought.
Later moved to Clondalkin and played with Round Towers before returning home to Kerry and moving to Castlegregory where he played out his days
Burns has two senior football county championship medals with South Kerry and maybe unusually a Hogan Cup medal with St Brendan’s that he won in 1992. At times, a stat is forgotten about. Where did he play? You got in corner back.
5. Graham O’Sullivan Dromid Pearses (2019-Present)
Having made his senior championship debut just last season, the Dromid player appeared on the scene with the Minor classes of 2015 and 2016 winning All Ireland’s under both Jack O’Connor and Peter Keane.
He has followed Keane into the senior panel and while his time has been limited in championship to replacement duties, O’Sullivan began to nail down a place in the defence for this season’s league. Regardless of what will happen this season, the Dromid player will fly the South Kerry flag into the future with his best days yet to come.
6. Killian Young Renard (2006-2019)
Just recently, retired Killian Young made his debut taking up Aidan O’Mahony’s role who was in turn filling the void left by Seamus Moynihan. So from the word go Young was swimming with the big sharks and became a steady piece in the backline for Kerry teams during his 14 years at Senior grade in which the Renard man won 4 All Ireland medals.
7. Ger Lynch Valentia (1982-1988)
As perfect All Ireland final records go, Ger Lynch’s is as good as you are likely to see. Played three won three having been ever present for the three in the row in the mid-eighties. A tenacious marker who never shied away from the big day or the big task Lynch also collected an All Star Award
8. Jack O’Shea St. Mary’s (1977-1992)
One of the greatest midfielders ever to play the game. The seven time All Ireland winner also played 9 times for Ireland against Australia across a number of series winning player of the tournament in 1990. O’Shea was also a free scoring midfielder bagging 11 goals during his championship career. His most memorable the 1981 strike against Offaly.
O’Shea remained loyal to the blue of St Mary’s for many years having moved to Kildare. He would regularly travel back to don the famous blue and sash.
9. Mick O’Connell Valentia 1958-1974
Really is there any need to waste words on this selection. His name is known countrywide and people still talk about his stylish way of playing and his actual real and genuine love of just playing the game.
The Valentia man made his debut during the 1956 championship and continue playing at the highest level for 19 seasons. He was named Footballer of the Year in 1962. He played his last game for Kerry in July 1974.
O’Connell won 4 All Ireland medals during his career and captained Kerry
10. Bryan Sheehan St. Mary’s (2005-2017)
The quality just keeps on coming. Sheehan began his career as a goalkeeper for the Kerry minors but when it came to his senior career, which spanned 13 years he was certainly a man with a keen eye for a score with 6-161 and just the five All Ireland medals in the back pocket.
For most of that period, he excelled as the main free taker and his ability to strike from the ground at long distance was the difference in many games in which Kerry could have lost.
He still lines out for St. Mary’s
11. Declan O’Sullivan Dromid Pearses (2003-2014)
He captained Kerry to back-to-back All Ireland titles in 2006 and 2007 on his way to winning five All Ireland senior medals as well as being a three time All Star. His ability to play the number 11 role as a driving force often helped improve the players around him as O’Sullivan combative style proved difficult for opponent.
In 2004, he was the mainstay of Dromids charge to lift the Jack Murphy Cup for the first time and he was the man in charge when they collected their second ever-south Kerry in the 2019 South Kerry final, which was played in January of this year.
12. Eamon Fitzgerald Derrynane (1927-1931)
Lined out seven times for Kerry in a four-year period which saw the talented half forward win two All Ireland medals in 1930 and 1931 having played in three finals.
Still that is only a fraction of this man’s amazing story who came in fourth place at the 1932 LA Olympics in the hop step and jump with a jump of 15.01M. Just .11 of a metre shy of a medal.
In 2004 The Kerry association in Dublin oversaw is a re-dedication to Fitzgerald in Dean’s Grange Cemetery.
13. John Egan Sneem (1973-1984)
Former manager Kerry Mick O ‘Dwyer is quoted as saying that “There has never, at least in my understanding of Gaelic football, been a better inside forward than John Egan. I can’t say he was the best, but I can say there was no-one better”. I think it is fair to say that would be a true reflection of how John Egan is held in high regard throughout the country. In a career that spanned from 1973 to 1984, Egan won six All Ireland medals in the eight finals that he played in notching up 14 goals in his championship career alone.
Still it was his unselfish play, which always saw him play the ball to the right player at the right time, was his greatest strength and something that was recognised with five All Star awards.
14. Maurice Fitzgerald St. Mary’s (1988-2001)
One of the most stylish footballers ever to grace the sod. A bold statement? We think not.
A sum of two All Ireland medals seems an unjust reward for what he brought to the game but in many way Fitzgerald was the shining light during the drought years. He debuted in 1988 and had to wait until 1997 when he won his first medal in an All Ireland final win over Mayo in which he displayed all the talent he had on the biggest of days.
He won another in 2000 and added 3 All Stars as well as player of the year in 1997.
He has a Sigerson cup winner’s medal with UCC in 1987 and 3 Senior County Championships. In 2016, he managed his club St. Mary’s to win the All Ireland Intermediate Club Title. He is currently a selector with the Kerry Senior Football team
15. Mick O’Dwyer Waterville (1957-1973)
These days he is more remembered for what he did off the pitch as a manager but long before the Waterville man donned a managers bib he had a distinguished career in the green and gold, which saw him win All Ireland’s with Kerry in 1959, 1962, 1969 and 1970.
His career with Kerry is also remarkable in the sense that he went from an attacking halfback to a prolific scoring forward later in his career.
The Waterville man scored 6-129 in 48 championship appearances. The stat is more amazing considering that he spent the first seven years of his career as a half back. When moved to a forward role in 1963 the O ‘Dwyer forward career began and what an amazing stat to have scored every one of his last 27 championship games for Kerry. To put it in plain English O ‘Dwyer scored in every championship game that he played from 1964 to 1973.
16. Kieran Moran
Derrynane/Round Towers (Kildare) (1992-1993)
The former Derrynane man made his home with Round Towers of Kildare in the 1990’s and made two Leinster Championship appearances with Kildare. The former Kerry under 21 keeper moved to Kildare and ran up a total of nine appearances of which seven were in the league for the Lilywhites
17. Denis Dwyer
Ten of his 18 championship appearances were off the bench and was always a player that Kerry looked to when they needed to change things up. Mostly used as a half forward. Has two All Ireland medals.
18. Ger O’Driscoll
Another player who worked most of his trade at championship level from the bench but in a time when impact was, needed Driscoll was certainly called upon. He scored 2-3 from limited playtime but it was in the winter leagues at midfield that the Valentia man shone scoring 1-24 in 28 league appearances.
O’Driscoll has two All Ireland medals and is remembered for his decisive goal against Dublin in the 1975 final.
19. John Cronin
Just the two seasons but that goal against Cork in the Munster semi final of 1991 was, a crucial winner that ended Cork’s run for five in a row Munster titles.
Played alongside Jack O’Shea against Cork in 1992 in their Munster quarterfinal win but missed the Munster final loss to Clare.
20. Ronan O’Connor
St Michaels Foilmore (2002-2006)
Seven Championship appearances as a sub for Kerry over a four year period which saw him collect a medal in 2004 as Kerry defeated Mayo 1-20 to 2-9
21. Karl O’Dwyer
Waterville/ Rathangan/ Round Towers (1992) (1998-2002)
With two Leinster titles and an All Star in 1998, O ‘Dwyer was certainly a man who could get you a score when you needed one.
Was part of the Kerry team in 1992 that lost to Clare in the Munster final but enjoyed the best of his football in Kildare.
21. Ned Fitzgerald
St. Mary’s (1955 – 1958)
Played a championship game in 1955, 1956 and 1957 and played his best game against Waterford in that defeat to them he scored 0-3 of their 0-10 that day.
Scored 0-14 in his 12 league appearances with the Kingdom in those days.
22. Johnny Clifford
St. Mary’s (1943-1944)
Clifford only played six times for Kerry but all his appearances were full championship encounters and was part of the team that reached the 1944 All Ireland final but narrowly lost out to Roscommon 1-9 to 2-4
23. Jack Murphy
St Mary’s (1924-1926)
Jack Murphy certainly had the potential to be one of the greatest. Sadly, he died at just 22 having played in the 1924 All Ireland win against Dublin. The young garda was man of the match in the 1926 All Ireland final drawn game against Kildare. Following the game Murphy developed pneumonia and died ahead of the replay that Kerry won. His medal was presented to his family.
His memory lives on today each time the South Kerry Championship is played for the Jack Murphy Cup.
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