Friday 22 November 2019

There's nothing worse than losing to dublin

Kieran Donaghy and Kerry's supporters will be hoping that the
tattoo of St Christopher on the forward’s upper arm will help the
Kingdom to another All-Ireland title against Dublin tomorrow
Kieran Donaghy and Kerry's supporters will be hoping that the tattoo of St Christopher on the forward’s upper arm will help the Kingdom to another All-Ireland title against Dublin tomorrow
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

Kerry have forwards who could open the clasp of a bra wearing oven gloves. Dublin know this and they will close up the gaps with more men behind the ball than at a game of golf.

Dublin will be very defensive and the 2011 All-Ireland final will be won, as every All-Ireland is, out around the middle where there will be more space.

Midfield is crucial. Kerry centre-fielder Anthony Maher lives about three miles from me and he's a good lad from the banks of the singing river Smearla. His partner Bryan Sheehan hails from a town that hugs a mountain, Cahersiveen. This has been his best year yet in a Kerry ganzee.

So, there you have it. But read on. There's more to winning an All-Ireland than tactics alone.

I've been to a fair few finals and by now I should know what it takes to win one. The only one in the last 13 Kerry have won and I missed was down to an appointment in the birthing suite of the Bons Secours hospital.

Bad timing. Will I ever forgive myself? It wasn't all bad. The lads beat Tyrone without me. I was going to sort of mention about the match to herself and take time out to hit for Dublin.


I even offered to miss the minor game and the après match celebrations, but women can be very selfish. And as for babies, they leave the womb when it suits them.

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Memories are personal.

It was the 1981 All-Ireland minor final. My brother John was playing for Kerry against Dublin. He's a strikingly handsome man. Very like me in appearance.

I had a good few pints in The Palace before the game. It was noted.

My dad spent the match in Dirrah Bog counting curlew and wearing away the rosary beads. He just couldn't stick the tension. When he got back to our pub he knew from the cut of the place Kerry had been beaten.

There were no mobiles back then, but the news reached Kerry that John had four pints in The Palace before the minor final.

Kerry fans would sell silver medals for scrap. There had to be retribution.

A git told my dad his young lad was drinking before the game. "Ah," said the ould fella. "Sure he has four or five pints before every match."

By the way, John had a great game that day against Dublin.

Football is all to us. Why, you might ask? It's about defiance. Kerry is far away from the centre of power. For years our biggest export has been our young people. This is our way of fighting back. Our way of showing we are worthwhile.

It's passed on. Kids are photographed in Sam. He's at the top table of every wedding. Children are monitored and picked from small villages or back lanes for high office by the elders like some sort of Kerry Dalai Lama.

We can't afford to lose this one. Dublin will get over it if they are beaten. We never will. The big wins are seldom spoken of in the long winter nights when the hailstones play a rat-a-tat-tat drum solo on the pub window. It's the defeats we pine over and wonder why.

But we kick on. Elastic willows genuflect before the gale, but we never do. Defiance is in our culture and our art is skill on the ball.

A big man with the pint no more than a egg cup in his hand will lower his head in mourning when the talk comes around to the five-in-a-row. They say time heals. Wrong. It will only be 30 years next September since that Darby goal.

Bad as that was, the worst of all is getting beaten by Dublin. And worse again will be having to write about it for Monday's paper.

The Dubs should be had up for plagiarism. Try as I might, I couldn't get one of them to predict a Dublin win. It's as if a million people were injected with an anti-truth serum. Dublin have stolen our poor mouth.

They will be unbearable if they beat us. The accursed national papers will hitch a lift on the bandwagon and we'll have to take the 'Catholic Standard'. The only upside is tourism will flourish in Kerry. The Dubs will come down in their droves, just to tell us how great they were last September.

Dublin will hit the Kerry forwards at every opportunity. They will stand in front of the ball when quick frees are about to be taken and the Dubs will pack more bodies into defence than you'd find in a single bed at a swinger's convention.

Dublin were very negative at the end of the Donegal game. Don't expect them to say 'after you' to Kerry. Donegal lite?


Pat Gilroy had to do something. Last time out Kerry beat them easily.

And this is no Kerry roguery. The Brogan boys are neighbours' kids. If we are to be beaten, no better men to collect their first Celtic Cross.

We share the same street and the same cemetery. Sean Moriarty looks after our graves. Sean will tie an interwoven green and gold string at Tim Kennelly's resting place and he'll top up the Knock holy water bottle at John B's grave. My father always loved a refill.

The Brogan brothers are a credit to both counties. Tonight there will be an 'Up For The Game' in their club Oliver Plunkett's, where the ever-friendly Kerry and Dublin members never lose the head.

As I write, I can feel the tension building. Butterflies with tongues like vipers sting jangling tummy nerves and every breath is a stranded fish gasping on the bank of the river.

What will it be like when we walk down Jones's Road tomorrow if we're this bad now?

Sometimes I wish I wasn't there. Wish I was back home in Dirrha.

We'll be in good company. Kerry never walk alone. We step it out with our ancestors. We need the extra numbers. A small county with more of our people living out of it than in it take on one million.

Prayer and football are connected.

Kieran Donaghy wears a St Christopher's medal around his neck. It's more than just religion. It's belief. Kieran's nana gets the holy jewellery for him, but he has had six or seven gold medals ripped away by claim-jumping full-backs working for gold shops. St Christopher and Dongahy have something in common. The saint was seven and a half feet tall.

The solution to besting the chain gang? Donaghy had the St Christopher medal tattooed on his arm.

And that's why I think we'll beat Dublin.

Irish Independent

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