IT was high-noon in Dingle and Lispole last Saturday as the inaugural Tommy Griffin Over-35s Tournament kicked off with matches occurring simultaneously in Páirc an Ághasaigh and Páirc Uí Bhairóid.
After an intense build up in the weeks preceding the invitational tournament, which was conceived and devised by five time All-Ireland winner Tommy Griffin and Pádraic Corcoran of Muiris Dan's, the speculation, as to who would line out for the eight teams, was finally settled.
With a number of GAA legends coming out of retirement, they were joined by a few (perhaps selfdeclared?) legends had also put themselves up to the task with former underage and college stars making their way to Dingle and Lispole for the big day.
The action kicked off in Páirc an Ághasaigh with Dingle facing An Ghaeltacht.
With All-Ireland winning Kerry captain Dara Ó Cinnéide and great Kerry midfielder Darragh Ó Sé lining out for An Ghaeltacht among a strong team of veterans, it was up to a short-on-subs Dingle to give as good as they got, which they did as the likes of Murt Moriarty, Fintan Ashe and ace-in-the-pocket, former Kerry goalie Diarmuid Murphy steered Dingle to a 2-6 to 0-6 win.
The next clash saw Killarney's St Brendan's take on Dublin's Coláiste Eoin. An in-form Seamus Moynihan ( above) and his peers dispensed of the Dubs.
In Lispole the tension was palpable as West Kerry, which included 61-year-old Johnny Lenihan, drew with a combined team of Rathmore, Lixnaw and East Kerry players (2-5 to 2-5). Extra time followed, which also resulted in a draw, before a penalty shoot-out (perhaps the first in Corca Dhuibhne's Gaelic Football history?) saw West Kerry finally dispense with the East Kerry challenge.
Tralee, which saw Barry O'Shea line out, then took on Cork, who had Jack Ferriter, one of Dingle's most decorated players who captained Kerry to the 1994 All-Ireland minor title (the last time we won it). Tralee lost out to the Cork challenge, with the Rebel winning 1-7 to 1-5. Páirc an Ághasaigh then played host to the shield semi-finals and final with West Kerry beating Coláiste Eoin (2-5 to 1-7) and Tralee beating An Gaeltacht (110 to 1-6). The final saw Tralee beat West Kerry to claim the tournament Shield.
After a long day, as some of the over-35 knees and hips began to creak, the cup semi-finals saw St Brendan's Killarney overcome the Combined East Kerry, Rathmore and Lixnaw team while Cork beat Dingle. So it was Killarney versus Cork in the final and the Leesiders built on the momentum they established early on, winning the day with a scoreline of 2-5 to 1-5, amid scandalous rumours that they had actually trained in advance of the event (imagine!). A special presentation was made also to Gearóid Ó Cathsaigh of Lispole who was selected as player of the tournament.
Then it was back to Muiris Dan's where a marquee, pig-on-a-spit and reception awaited participants and spectators alike with the celebrations continuing into the night. Funds were raised throughout the day for the Tit Bonhomme Union Hall Tragedy Fund.
A tired but happy Tommy Griffin told The Kerryman on Sunday that he and Padraic were delighted with the event, adding that they wished to thank everyone involved, those who attended and participated in matches, referees and those who volunteered their time in helping to organise the event.
It seems the Tommy Griffin Over-35s Invitational Tournament is here to stay!