End of an era for Dennis

New Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice, left, in conversation with John O'Leary, new PRO of the Kerry County Board.
New Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice, left, in conversation with John O'Leary, new PRO of the Kerry County Board.

AT the recent county convention, George Dennis presented his 30th and the final report of the Kerry VEC Games Committee.

George is not, however, heading off for a well earned rest. Resulting from a congress motion earlier in the year, in relation to a process of rationalising/restructuring of second level schools competitions, Kerry VEC Games Committee and Kerry Colleges are now integrated into the newly formed committee namely the Kerry Post Primary Schools Committee.

Thus a new era of schools games began with the formation of a new committee embracing the former 14 colleges and seven vocational schools under the chairmanship of Willie O'Connor, Vice Chairman Fergus Clifford and Secretary Christy Killeen.

In his final report, George reflected on the activities of the Vocational Schools committees both at local and national level. He mentioned the pioneering work done by the late C.E.O. Seamus McDuibhir and Padraig Ó Droma who were instrumental in setting up both Munster and All Ireland Vocational Schools Committees and who became the respective first Patron and Uáchtarán in 1960.

Liam Sayers and Gerald Whyte both served three year terms as Uáchtarán and Donie O'Sullivan filled the role of PRO for a number of years. Tom Fitzgerald, Eamonn O'Sullivan and George Dennis himself served as Chairman of the Munster Committee.

Nor did George forget the many players who made a name for themselves having learnt their trade on the Vocational Schools playing fields. Tommy Doyle, Ambrose O'Donovan, and Liam Hassett lifted the Sam Maguire, while John Crowley captained East Kerry to three county championships on the trot along with tasting All Ireland glory.

Kerry, of course, won nine All Ireland Inter-county Vocational Schools football titles between 1973 and 1997 and won 10 successive Munster titles between 1971 and 1980. Add in three All Ireland Senior "B" Inter County hurling titles, seven individual Vocational Schools titles (won by Causeway in both football and hurling, Gael Cholaiste Chiarraí, Killorglin, Rathmore, Scoil Uí Chonail and Tralee), and one gets a flavour of how successful the Vocational Schools movement has been down through the years.

For many years of course, the All Ireland Vocational Schools final got top billing on the GAA calendar as curtain raiser to the National Football League Final and rarely failed to give value for money.

1978 will go down as one of the more successful years from a Kerry viewpoint when they defeated Mayo (0-12 to 1-7) to lift the intercounty title and Rathmore won the individual schools title with victory over Newry (1-6 to 0-3).

The Kerry team that defeated Mayo to record back to back titles with seven of the previous year's team was as follows:

Pat Brosnan (Tralee), Jack O'Connor (Cahirsiveen), John Crowley (Tralee), Denis Kelliher (Rathmore), Gerry Kelleher (Listowel), Michael Keane (Tralee), Anthony Corkery (Killorglin), Tim Horan (Rathmore), John O'Neill (Killorglin), Donal Kelleher (Rathmore), Ambrose O'Donovan (Rathmore), Joe Murphy (Castleisland), Niall O'Connor (Rathmore), James Sheehan (Killorglin), Bernard O'Connell (Tralee). Subs: Peter Lyons (Killorglin), Donal Murphy (Rathmore), John Chute (Listowel), Donal O'Connor (Rathmore), Sean Brosnan (Killarney), John Lynch (Kenmare). The team was trained by former Kerry winning captain and All Star, Donie O'Sullivan


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