THE Valentia Young Islanders footballers last won the South Kerry senior football championship in 2005, which was very fitting as it coincided with the centenary year of the founding of the club.
There was well founded and general euphoria as a result of that victory over Dromid Pearses, but as it subsequently came to pass the club failed to get past the first round of the championship year after year until doing so last year against near neighbours Renard.
Unfortunately, due mainly to the downturn in the economy and other factors the team never stayed together. The team was: Pat O'Sullivan, Ger O'Shea, John Daly, Colm Casey, Tadhg Lyne, Brian Murphy, Stevie O'Connor, Paul Curran, Brian O'Sullivan, Daniel Falvey, John Shanahan, Sean Falvey, John O'Connor, Barry Lynch, Paul O'Connor. Subs: Richard Quigley, Alan Lyne, Declan Lynch, Muiris O'Sullivan, Martin Falvey, Alan Curran, Fionán Murphy.
So, where are they today? Interestingly, only five live in Valentia, namely, John Daly, Paul Curran, John Shanahan, Richard Quigley and Fionan Murphy, all very much in the veteran stage now, with Fionan Murphy and Paul Curran retired. Eight live in various parts of Ireland, namely, Pat O'Sullivan and Tadhg Lyne (Kildare), Colm Casey (Waterford), Barry Murphy (Dublin), his brother Brian Murphy (Cork), Stevie O'Conno (Carlow), his brother Paul O'Connor (Mary Immaculate College,Limerick), Declan Lynch ( Cork), and Muiris O'Sullivan (Louth). Nine live overseas, they being, Ger O'Shea, the Falvey brothers Daniel, Sean, and Martin (all Australia), John O'Connor, Brian O'Sullivan Barry Lynch, Alan Lyne (all London) and Alan Curran (New York).
There exists in the GAA archives a photo of the Valentia Young Islanders team panel of the year 1986. Throughout the eighties and early nineties they enjoyed unprecedented success in the history of Valentia football.
In stark contrast to 2005 none of the team of '86 emigrated, apart from one or two on a short term basis. Today, 13 of the panel of 20 are living in Valentia, they being John Paul Curran, Dermot Walsh, P.J. O'Sullivan, Ger Lynch, Joe Lynch, Fionán Murphy, Micheál Lyne, Seamus O'Connor, Alan Egan, Nealie Lyne, Mike 'Rocky'O'Shea, Pat O'Connor and Brendy Murphy.Ger O'Driscoll and Richard Quigley live in nearby Cahirsiveen, while Mike O'Donoghue lives in Glenflesk. Colm Egan is in Cork, Brendan Gallagher is in Galway, Gerard Buckley is in Mullingar and Noel Curran lives in Kildare.
Nowadays, we are regularly reminded by the media of how austere the eighties were with comparisons being made with today. This Valentia team that stayed together throughout this decade is perhaps a microcosmic example that times were by no means as tough as nowadays.
Yes, without doubt a considerable number emigrated then, but unlike today, vital services and employment outlets still existed in South Kerry and were not as much under threat as today. Manufacturing industries existed in Cahirsiveen and farming, fishing as well as the building industry, though struggling, employed far more than now. One former Valentia footballer summed it up well when he stated, 'I did not even know that there was a recession in the eighties'