Weight of history no match for minors

Kerry achieves what few thought possible and makes it five all-Ireland minor titles on the spin

Tadhg Evans

Thinking back, given the success our youngsters have had of late, it's hard to believe that the 2014 Kerry minor team travelled to that year's All-Ireland final hoping to end one of the county's harshest football droughts.

Kerry football doesn't do long waits, so when that brilliant team bridged a 20-year gap by beating Donegal, there was as much a sense of relief as joy.

Four years on, the class of 2018 made off Dublin with history pressing down as severely as it had in 2014; they had a chance to succeed where our seniors narrowly failed in 1933 and 1982.

And on Sunday, just like their predecessors of 2014, they overcame the weight of history - even with a seven-point deficit thrown in for good measure. The five-in-a-row was ours.

It was a special moment for us all, not to mind for the playing, management and backroom teams. But, perhaps, it was especially joyous for Kilcummin GAA, who hosted a homecoming celebration on Monday night for the five-in-a-row heroes and a few of their own clubmen - including captain Paul O'Shea.

"It was an historic occasion at our grounds here" Kilcummin GAA Chairman Eugene McSweeney said. "It's five in a row, something that had never been done before at minor level. But it's historic for us as well, having the captain, Paul O'Shea, and Keith O'Leary on the panel as well.

"Our own James Foley was a selector, too, and it was lovely to have him introduce all the players up on the lorry. It was hard to tell how many people were there, with them all out on the field, but I'd say there was 2,000 there anyway, and they welcomed the team and the managers when they came in at around 6.30pm.

"There were a few words from the County Board Chairman Tim Murphy; the Killarney Mayor, John Sheahan; and the Mayor of Kerry, Norma Foley, and a few others as well."

For Paul O'Shea, speaking to The Kerryman the morning after the celebrations, the delight at the historic achievement hadn't sunk in - and coming back to his home club with the Tommy Markham Cup was a moment of moments.

"It was very special for Keith [O'Leary] and myself to be back in Kilcummin with the cup, and we were delighted with the turn-out," he said. "I think we'll be going around to the schools now for a few days. Later today [yesterday, Tuesday] we'll be going to the Sem in Killarney. We're all trying to let what we achieved sink in."