End of the road for International Rules

Colm Begley
Colm Begley

COLM Begley is a six foot four, fourteen stone Laois footballer playing with the Parnells club in Dublin.

He was a member of the Irish International Rules team which hammered the indigenous Australian side in the two recent games played in Cavan and Croke Park. In an interview following this pointless Series, which Ireland won by record margin, the Parnells man suggested that the Series might be a better spectacle if there was a bit more "clouting" involved.

This comment certainly brought a smile to many a face, because following previous visits by the Aussies to this country and the return games Down Under we have been bombarded by reports of dirty play, dangerous tackles and fisticuffs breaking out on a regular occasion.

So now it appears, as the old woman once famously said, "hot nor cold won't please them". And having seen numerous clashes between the countries over the years there is no doubt, but the main attraction for spectators was the possibility of a few good punch-ups breaking out.

Now, no one wants to see any player injured due to dirty or dangerous play but what we witnessed during the recent games was, in my view, the dullest television sports event I have ever sat through.

And, yes, I might hear you say, "so why did you watch it?". Well I did for about twenty minutes and then quickly switched channels to Homeland, Downton Abbey, Fair City or some other one of the programmes I enjoy.

In my opinion it's high time to put this so-called International series to rest. We heard some of the Irish players complaining because their county boards would not facilitate them and re-arrange county championship fixtures because of their involvement in the series.

Here we had the case of inter-county players putting their own ego before their club mates and the dedicated grassroots clubmen once more being relegated to second place. Thankfully the county boards did not accede to the requests.

Why is it that Croke Park appear to lean backwards to keep this pointless series alive? Well if the Australians saw fit this year to curtail their selection to players of aboriginal descent then maybe Ireland should send only fluent Irish speaking players from the Gaeltacht areas to Australia next year.

Now we would be really promoting Ireland and showcasing our beautiful native language. Also let's play the Aussies with their own oval ball. Then we might see a better contest and not the 101-point winning margin we saw this year. But better still, let's scrap the event.

As I write on this Australian topic it gives me the perfect opportunity to pay a richly deserved tribute to a man who I believe was completely unknown to every Kerry GAA follower, but who played a huge part in one of the Kingdom's greatest ever overseas adventures.

I speak about the late Michael Crow of Limerick who died last Monday week and his massive contribution in raising the funds that helped Kerry visit Australia following our All-Ireland win in 1969.

The squad had been promised a trip to Australia if we won the 1969 Sam Maguire. Just one small problem lay on the horizon – financing! At one County Board meeting, the treasurer called legendary Chairman, Dr Jim Brosnan, aside and said "if we leave the subs at home we will just about cover a weekend in Butlin's for the team".

Disaster lay ahead – austerity 1970. Hearing of the situation, Mick Crow made immediate contact with Jim Brosnan and said "give me the go-ahead and I will raise the funding to secure your Australian trip."

Jim Brosnan immediately bought in to Mick and gave him the green light to run a series of monster bingo competitions. Mick delivered on his promise.

As a mark of their appreciation, the Kerry County Board invited the Limerick man to travel with them to Australia. And so it was through Mick Crow's initiative that we circumnavigated the globe on a world trip before arriving back in Ireland on March 30, 1970.

Dr Jim Brosnan – he also began the county leagues here in Kerry – passed away in December 2011. A year previous I was privileged to be present when he was honoured in Dingle with a lavish reception that highlighted his famous career. In advance of the event, he made a special request to the organisers: Get Mick Crow to attend. Mick duly did and both rejoiced in memories shared of a trip that had taken place 40 years earlier.

Brilliantly successful at funding the 1970 Kerry trip, Mick freely acknowledged that some of his business ventures afterwards were not as successful. But he had real entrepreneurial spirit. If things went wrong, he got up, dusted himself down and threw his hat into the ring in another venture. Quitting was not in his vocabulary.

Mick Crow, the Limerick the man, who pioneered the Kerry footballers' trip around the world in 1969. To his wife Lily, four sons, three daughters and extensive family we extend our deepest sympathy.

Fogra: In article last July in relation to the legendary Casey family of Sneem I inadvertently stated that oarswomen Bernadette and Caroline Casey, granddaughters of Jack Casey and daughters of Noel, had won the singles and pairs at Henley regatta and were also All-Ireland champions.

However, while the brilliant careers of these two superb sportswomen are well documented they never actually competed at the Henley regatta nor in any events in Ireland. It is very important that the careers of this great family are documented accurately and correctly and I am anxious to rectify this inaccuracy.


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