Kerry created history in Croke Park on Sunday last when they won the All-Ireland minor football title defeating Galway by 0-21 to 1-14. They had to do it the hard way, which made victory all the sweeter for Peter Keane. At one stage Galway were leading by seven points and this looked like a winning margin. However, through this campaign Kerry have had some close calls and these experiences stood to them, as they fought back bravely and ended with a flurry of match-winning points.
No other team in any grade in hurling or in football have won five titles in a row and what’s more this was a brand new team this year with no players available from last year’s crop. What’s remarkable is that Kerry went through a very barren spell until Jack O’Connor managed the winning minor teams in 2004 and 2005. Peter Keane took over and stretched that winning run to three minor titles on the trot. Kerry have now gone 30 games unbeaten at minor level.
David Clifford was the stand out minor last year scoring a massive 4-4 against Derry in the final and he has graduated with ease on to the Kerry senior side. He was the only Kerry player to be named on the RTÉ Sunday Game Team of the Championship. The DNA is good as we witnessed in last Sunday’s minor victory. His first cousin Paul O’Shea did more than anyone to help Kerry’s revival when Galway went seven points ahead and looked to be motoring to an inevitable victory.
It was 1-9 to 0-8 at half-time and it could have an even bigger mountain for Kerry to climb because Galway were very wasteful. O’Shea starred when moved to midfield, an astute move by the Kerry selectors. Paul Walsh led the scoring with four points as Kerry chipped away at Galway’s lead. Dylan Geaney, Darragh O’Reilly and the impressive Ruaidhrí ó Beaglaioch lofted over some great points to turn the table on Galway. He’s a brother of senior Kerry player Brian.
Galway rallied and it was nip and tuck – the sides were level on four occasions as the clock ticked forward to normal full time. In time added on Kerry were magnificent and added four match-winning points for this historic victory.
Congratulations to Peter Keane and his management team. Donal Daly, the former Kerry senior player and Development Officer for underage football in the county who oversees the various development squads, has been doing great work co-ordinating the work of the underage coaches in the county. It proveides a great sense of satisfaction to see such positive results and the same kudos is extended to the club coaches of this record-beating team. Well done to Billy Doolan and his fellow helpers in the Kilcummin club who extended a great welcome home event in the clubhouse on Monday evening last.
Kerry: the history makers.
Kerry: M Kelliher (Glenflesk); C Moriarty (Annascaul), O Fitzgerald (Gneeveguilla), C Flannery (Dingle); D McCarthy (Kenmare), D Murphy (Rathmore), D Mangan (Laune Rangers); D Lyne (Legion), P O’Shea (Kilcummin); D Rahilly (Rathmore), P D’Arcy (Glenflesk), K Falvey (Annascaul); P Walsh (Brosna), M Lenihan (Dr Crokes), D Geaney (Dingle).
Subs: R ó Beaglaoích (An Ghaeltacht) for D’Arcy; K O’Donoghue (Legion) for Mangan; J Kennelly (Ballydonoghue) for Lenihan; J O’Connor (Beaufort) for Walsh.
Scorers: P Walsh (0-4, 1f), K Falvey (0-4), R ó Beaglaoich (0-3), D Rahilly (0-3), P O’Shea (0-2, 1f & 1 ‘45), D Geaney (0-2); J O’Connor (0-1f), D McCarthy (0-1) and M Lenihan (0-1).