Sunday 21 January 2018

Where are they now?

STEPHEN STACK (Former Kerry footballer)

For Stephen Stack, it was always an honour to wear the Kerry jersey.

Even when times were bad and the county struggled through an 11-year period without an All-Ireland, it was still worth it. Because growing up in Listowel football was the be all and end all for any young lad and playing for Kerry was a dream come true.

Like many a youngster, Stack started his football career kicking the ball off the wall of his house with his brother Billy; he doesn't remember a time when he didn't do that as a kid. He joined the underage set-up in Listowel Emmets and when he was in his late teens, he got the call-up for the Kerry seniors in the mid 1980s.

"I was very young and very inexperienced when I joined the squad but it was very exciting," Stack recalls. "I was playing with some of the greatest players that ever played the game. I was just observing, I knew that at that age I wasn't going to dislodge any of those great players. I played a lot of league games initially and tried to learn as much as I could from them."

He won an All-Ireland medal in 1986 as a sub at the end of a great Kerry era and it was over a decade before he won his next one. During his career he played under four different Kerry managers, Mick O'Dwyer, Ogie Moran, Mickey Ned O'Sullivan and Páidí ó Sé.

Winning the All-Ireland in 1997 was the standout memory of Stack's career. Kerry had waited such a long time for their day to come that it made it that bit sweeter when they won back the Sam Maguire. But also having Páidí ó Sé manage the side made it extra special.

"Páidí was fantastic, he was a great confidence-builder and he was great friend of mine. I played with him and for him. He was a marvellous motivator, you believed in everything he said. He got very close to everyone on that 1997 team and he instilled an incredible belief in people."

The following year he retired at 32 years of age. Stack soon went into management, first with his own club in Listowel and then as he was working in Dublin he got involved with Bray Emmets. He's back in Kerry now working as a senior manager with AIB in Killarney and he hopes to stay involved in the game in some capacity.

Stack has always been a committed club man and he played senior football for 20 years with Listowel and during that time was chairperson of a €1.5m club redevelopment.

"There was a massive club and community support for that project and everyone in the town is immensely proud."

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