Friday 23 March 2018

I'm turning into a lunatic like my dad, but I try to behave

Jimmy Keane (SPORTSFILE)
Jimmy Keane (SPORTSFILE)
Billy Keane

Billy Keane

I'm walking in along in front of the packed stand and who do I see only my cousin Tara. Normally we'd be all talk but I keep on going. Tara is a very vocal Brosna supporter and I'm hasty.

Lately I've noticed that when I shout at matches, out comes my father. The oul' fella was so enraged at one match, he ended up going behind the stand for a scrap with an opposition supporter. Then the two made up and went for a few pints after the game.

If there were duels in GAA, my father would never be without a flintlock in his hand.

I was grand until a few years ago but now I'm turning in to a lunatic.

But we were playing Brosna in the North Kerry final, and half the parish are kin, so I try to behave. Because Listowel won we will chronicle the events of the day in some detail. Last year we were beaten by Beale and all I could manage was a congratulatory paragraph.

I tried to write about last year's final but the pain was too much. I am sure none of you ever saw a monumental sculptor carve his own name on his headstone.

The baying winds and pouring rain gave away to a meek, apologetic and anaemic winter sun. But it was dry. Miraculously the wet was soaked up by the draining sands of Bob Stack Park in Ballybunion.

The whole of Brosna showed up. Brosna are the All-Ireland Junior champions and All-Ireland seven-a-side champs for good measure but they have never won a North Kerry championship.

One of the cousins daubed Brosna Abu on the front of our pub. It went viral in Meenevoughane. I have it down on Rags, a noted prankster.

January and we're still playing last season's football. There are 13 months in the North Kerry year. The players are more flogged than junior doctors. The cup is the best possible placebo for jadedness but my heart went out to Brosna.

Their manager Jimmy Keane, who runs the famous Kate Pat's Bar with his wife Maria, is a friend. He brought the Brosna team over to Listowel on Sunday night. They are good winners in Brosna, but even better losers.

It was the young lads who won it for us. Our Kerry minors Brian Sweeney and Niall Collins were flying from start to finish. They understand what it is to wear the jersey with pride and joy.

Seventeen-year-old Niall was man of the match. Noel Kennelly is our greatest ever clubman. Noel is also our manager. His swivel-kick equalised for us in the drawn game. At 38 he's still mad for football. Noel scored two sweet points in Ballybunion.

His nephew Jake Timothy was born two hours before the game, in Sydney. Already the cygnet and yours truly have something in common. We were both born on the day Listowel won the championship.

Conor Cox's sideline was a wonder. Think Maurice Fitzgerald in Thurles. There was a partisan roaring "miss it, miss it". The ball curved like a sickle, oh so slowly and even more slowly, like a pint settling, until it swung over the bar from an angle as acute as a drinking man's elbow.

Ger Mac ran faster than his father's winning greyhounds. If he was being paid for pitch mileage, it would break the club. Brendan Guiney was ferocious and accurate too. He was a minder for our young lads. Our goalie Keith Hughes dominated the square. He was a road block. We would have been beaten in the drawn game but for his heroics.

Full-back Jack MacGuire is definitely one for the Kerry team. Jack is tough, fast and big. His glamorous and feisty grandmother Edith nearly jumped the wire, such was her haste to get on to the field to deliver the nana's victory hug.

Corner-backs Shane Quinn and Jamie Barry never lost concentration but still managed to free the tiger within. They attacked the ball and I'm so glad they are on our side.

On came Denis Walsh, the editor of our excellent North Kerry Advertiser, but he was taken out of it by an off-the-ball hit which wasn't spotted - although the referee Brendan Griffin was very fair and thorough throughout.

Micheal Lynch covered more ground than a TD on the election trail. Micheal was so selfless. He boing-boinged off the Brosna boys like a bouncy ball until he bounced once too often and was sent off.

Young Darragh Leahy came on to score a fine, mature point at a vital time. Maurice Whelan, our much-bemedalled next door neighbour, never gave in .

David Sheehy would have found space and time in the elevator of an obesity clinic, and Big Brendan Flavin won more sky-high duels than the Red Baron. He was going strong right until the end.

Another youngster, Darragh Broderick, came on for his first medal. This lad is as tough and game as they come. Cormac Mulvihill took short cuts through brick walls but still came out the other side intact and with ball in hand.

All the Brosna lads played well. Injuries to key player such as Flor McAuliffe and Mike Finnegan were no help to the Tangerine Dream team. Not one of the Tangerines took a backward step but such was the mess up with fixtures, they haven't had a rest for two years. The tiredness kicked in after half-time.

The blossoming of our youngsters gives us hope for the future. The task now is to try to keep our team at home, or near home.

My cousin Pat Lane left Brosna a long time ago. He's in San Francisco now. We are very close. He was up at six after a long night's shift in Molloy's Bar. Pat listened to the game on Radio Kerry. He was heartbroken.

And I was sad for Pat , far away from his beloved Brosna. But keep listening, Pat. Some day soon the sweetest words "Brosna are North Kerry Champions" will ford the Atlantic, climb The Rockies and cross over the Golden Gate to a sitting room in suburban San Francisco.

And the Pacific breezes travelling up along the whale run from Monterey Bay will unfurl the tangerine flag on the porch of the Lane residence.

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