Friday 9 December 2016

Jack's back again as Kerry seek double

Dermot Gilleece, Ger Siggins and Dermot Crowe

Published 13/09/2015 | 02:30

Kerry manager Jack O'Connor
Kerry manager Jack O'Connor

Normally in the GAA inter-county managers progress from minor to under 21 to senior level, but in Kerry they do things differently.

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Jack O'Connor, who has managed Kerry to win All-Ireland finals at under 21 and senior level, ended Kerry's 20-year wait for a minor All-Ireland when his team beat Donegal to win a record 12th minor title for The Kingdom 12 months ago. Later in the afternoon Kerry beat Donegal in the senior final to complete the double.

Now the Kerry minors, still under the Dromid Pearses' clubman, are back in the final next Sunday against Tipperary, while their seniors will play Dublin. It will be third time that Kerry's senior and minors will contest finals in back-to-back years. It has happened twice previously in 1931-'32 and 1979-'80 and the minors defeat to Dublin in '79 was Kerry's only loss. Also this will also be the second year in a row that a former Finn Harps player manages a team in an All-Ireland minor final. Tipperary manager Charlie McGeever follows in the footsteps of another former Harps player Declan Bonner who was Donegal's manager last year.

Royal tribute to Anto

Bursting with pride as last Tuesday at Royal Dublin drew to a close, Anto Birney declared: "They haven't had such a crowd here since the Irish Open." And he wasn't far wrong about the response to a charity event which had been organised on his behalf.

The plight of a much-loved former caddie-master touched many hearts when it became known he is suffering from motor neurone disease. And through the support of more than 100 sponsors, a trust fund will be set up to get him through financial aspects of this difficult time.

Anto spoke of the countless roads, avenues and drives in the suburb of Clontarf in North Dublin. "But there's only one street," he said. "That's Brian Boru Street, where all the caddies are from, myself included. And I started caddying at Royal Dublin back in 1954, when I was 10."

He seemed overwhelmed by what was being done for him. "The people here have been fantastic, magnificent," he said. "John Pardy, Diarmuid Ó Síocháin and Keith Cairns did unbelievable work in organising this event."

In weather that could hardly have been more beautiful, a welcome ray of sunshine brightened one man's life.

That's a losing streak

Reports of a streaker running on to Nowlan Park on Monday last at Kilkenny's celebrations brought to mind a tale from the 1990s of a similar incursion. At a club match between Glenmore and Young Irelands of Gowran a man entered the pitch in his birthday suit to the bemusement of all. "I think there was a funeral on and he came from that," recalls Willie O'Connor, who played that day. The intruder got more than he bargained for. When he passed by Christy Heffernan, the big Glenmore forward, he felt the sting of Christy's hurl on his rear end. A sore lesson.

Big hitters take note

AN interesting addition to the sporting calendar takes place in Dublin next weekend. The Dublin Sixes promises to be a fast-moving cricket tournament with plenty of off-field entertainment to keep spectators happy.

Ireland star Kevin O'Brien hopes it can become the cricket equivalent of rugby's Hong Kong Sevens and already Darjeeling CC from Dubai are coming, as is Netherlands' World Cup captain Peter Borren.

The event gives club players the chance to play with and against top players in Trinity's College Park and entries are still being accepted at www.dublinsixes.ie.

164,197

That was the combined attendance figure from the two games in Croke Park last weekend - 82,300 at the All-Ireland hurling final on Sunday, and 81,897 the previous evening at the football semi-final replay.

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