Carmela Morey is another Kerry sporting heroine

Carmela Morey receiving her award from Joe McGill who ran The Gathering of the Clans in south Kerry at the weekend.
Carmela Morey receiving her award from Joe McGill who ran The Gathering of the Clans in south Kerry at the weekend.

The South Kerry Gathering of the Clans, under the guidance of the dynamic Joe McGill and his committee, hosted a memorable evening in the Waterville Lake Hotel last Saturday and I was delighted to be invited to the event in the capacity of MC.

It was a night celebrating the achievements of some of South Kerry's most famous sons and daughters, a night of music, chat, and entertainment.

The chosen guests for the evening have brought great pride to South Kerry across a range of fields from sport, culture, business, and so on, at home and abroad. And it was in the sporting arena that I was particularly interested, especially when informed of the two sporting personalities who were to be honoured.

There is little need to delve into the history of Mick O'Dwyer, the Waterville GAA legend, who was one of just two sports people chosen as recipients of what were handsome awards. Mick himself was unable to attend on the night but his son Karl travelled from Kildare to represent his legendary father.

However, just when one thinks that one is familiar with the careers of all Kerry's great sportsmen and women along comes the name of a Kerry lady who has achieved great renown and success in the sporting world, but amazingly - and I speak only of myself - was completely unheard of to me.

Now, Kerry has produced some outstanding female sporting greats over the years namely Gillian O'Sullivan (Olympian), Mary Geaney (golf, hockey gaelic football), Geraldine O'Shea (gaelic football), Maureen Harrington (athletics), Niamh O'Sullivan (athletics), Lorna Hannon (badminton) and Mary Joe Curran (gaelic football).

And, of course, the latest star to join these illustrious ranks is Siobhan Fleming. The Currow lady, who was my special guest on Terrace Talk last Monday, was one of the stars of Ireland's first ever rugby grand slam achieved two weeks ago.

So now it's only right and fitting that the name Carmela Morey should be added to this illustrious list of Kerry sporting legends. I met up with Carmela at the awards evening in Waterville last Saturday and chatted with her about her amazing sporting career. A quiet, unassuming and modest lady, she was absolutely thrilled at being honoured by her own people in her own place.

I even hopped the ball to her that she might consider declaring for our Kerry ladies football team and what an asset she would be around the midfield area. Always a special occasion for me to meet a Kerry sporting winner and Carmela Morey is certainly one of those. Her record speaks for itself.

A native of Waterville, Carmela Morey, nee O'Reilly, now lives in Kildare. She began playing team sports competitively in her mid-twenties. She has played Gaelic football for Suncroft and Round Towers, usually in midfield, and represented Kildare at Senior B level.

Carmela is also a prolific striker in soccer. She has had successes in the Dublin League with Peamount Utd and Kildare Town and only last season made the Kildare League representative team and won the Kildare Women's League Player of the Year.

Carmela's biggest passion, however, is rugby. She began playing rugby six years ago with her local club, Cill Dara RFC. As well as captaining the ladies senior team to success, she has recruited, organised and coached two underage girls teams for the last four years. A highlight of this was leading them out as the first ever girls team to play at the Aviva Stadium.

Leinster Rugby acknowledged Carmela's work in 2011 by presenting her with the Leinster Club Player of the Year Award. Her successes on the field led to her making the Leinster ladies squad in 2010 and she has played eleven times for Leinster, scoring two tries as well as winning the Interpro Series in 2011.

She played with Blackrock for the 2011/12 season, which culminated in winning the All Ireland Club Sevens competition and being picked for the Ireland Sevens training squad. Carmela's involvement with rugby will continue long into the future as she has coaching and refereeing qualifications and a huge love for the sport.

Kerry face their biggest league test to date next Sunday in Omagh when the ever improving Tyrone side will undeniably go all out to extract revenge in particular for that defeat in the qualifying rounds of the championship last year in Killarney.

Kerry's uncontrolled display of sheer joy following the full time whistle in that clash has, I have no doubt, lingered in the minds of all those Tyrone players, management and supporters who were present that day. And the great joy and emotion which emanated from the huge Kerry following will also be a motivating factor in what is bound to be a white hot atmosphere at the Omagh venue. Revenge is always a great drive.

It's now a well known fact that there is, as they say, "no love lost" between the two counties and this in itself makes next Sunday's event a mouth watering fixture.

I expect Kerry to field their strongest team to date and without a shadow of doubt we will learn more about where preparations are at than any other game so far. It will test the character and mental strength and hunger for the fight in both the younger and older players on the panel.

This could be a hugely crucial game in Kerry's road to regain some of their former glory. A third victory in a row, a continued improvement in the younger guns, and a display of sheer will to win and hunger by the older warriors could spell victory. Eamonn Fitzmaurice knows full well that victory would be a colossal boost as championship time draws near. That past week Kerry has trained in the sun might be just what the proverbial doctor just ordered.