Wednesday 22 November 2017

Teams Who Stood Apart: Kerry go where no team has gone before... or since

The Kerry team in 1981
The Kerry team in 1981

Between 1975 and 1984, Kerry appeared in eight All-Ireland finals, winning six.

It's hard to think of any side in GAA history so possessed of such liberal sprinklings of genius, individuality, determination and good old-fashioned toughness as the Kerry team which soldiered from 1975 until, ultimately, some of its greatest men had won a scarcely credible eighth All-Ireland medal in 1986.

Mikey Sheehy was one of those men. Yet, years after his deeds were done, he admitted the 1982 defeat took years to get over. To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, teams do not become great by doing great things; they do great things because they are great.


Trick or treat? It's Halloween 1978 and there's nothing scarier than having to face up to the mighty All Blacks. At least that was how it was supposed to be. Except there was something far more terrifying lurking that day - a fired up Munster team in Thomond Park, managed by Tom Kiernan and backed by a passionate crowd. It was the fifth game of the All Blacks' 18-match tour of the UK and Ireland, and the only one they lost. The 12-0 scoreline is now part of Irish sporting folklore. The only try was scored in the first half by Christy Cantillon, converted by Tony Ward. And Ward added a drop goal before half-time, and another in the second half. And that was that, history was made.

Future generations may find it odd but there was a time when the Aga Khan Cup was one of the most eagerly awaited sporting fixtures in the country.

With the rugby and soccer teams in the doldrums, no team carried the national flag with as much panache as the hat-trick winning quartet of Eddie Macken, James Kernan, Paul Darragh and Captain Con Power. From 1977 to 1979 even the horses involved, Boomerang, Condy, Heather Honey and Rockbarton were household names. One year Kernan and Power rode flawless rounds so Macken didn't have to ride in the second round. Another saw Macken produce the clear which won it.

Sunday Independent

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