Saturday 21 October 2017

where are they now?

MARY JO CURRAN

(Former Kerry footballer)

The Kerry ladies football team won't be short of inspirational figures to look to for advice when they take on Cork in today's All-Ireland final. Mary Jo Curran, one of the legends of the game and winner of ten All-Ireland medals and ten All Stars, will be their maor uisce for the day and will be on hand to offer more than just water to the players.

She is a hero to many footballers around the country, not just for what she achieved but for the way she has played the game. Midfielder Curran was a linchpin on the famous Kerry teams who won nine successive All-Ireland titles, and one of the best players to ever grace the game.

Her first foray into football was with Laune Rangers in Killorglin; although Beaufort was her parish, they didn't have a team until later on. In the mid-1970s, she was called up to the Kerry under 16 team, but didn't experience any success. However, when she graduated to the minor ranks, all that changed and in 1980 and '81 she won All-Ireland minor titles. Curran won her first senior medal in 1982 and from there went on to win nine in a row.

Initially, the profile of ladies football was low but as Kerry continued to rack up titles sports fans around the country started to take notice of this extraordinary team. They helped to develop the game and it wasn't long before they were playing in stadiums like Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Croke Park.

In those days, Kerry and Waterford were the top two teams in the country and Curran recalls some of her toughest games being in the Munster championship. In 1991, when Kerry were going for the tenth title in a row, Waterford finally got the better of them and they went on to win the All-Ireland.

Two years later, Kerry came back to win another title, Curran's tenth, and after that she called it a day. She played national league basketball too and kept that up after she retired from football.

Curran is a primary teacher in Glenbeigh and works closely with Cumann na mBunscol in promoting the game. Today a bus full of kids from her school will travel to Dublin to support Kerry and past pupil and Kerry 'keeper Edel Murphy. Although Curran feels that it will be a tough outing for the Kingdom, she thinks if they settle early they could cause an upset.

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