The fledgling Kerry team is alive and growing in the Dubai region and tournaments are a huge attraction there with up to 1,000 players participating.
The Kerry Club was founded by members of the Middle East Kerry Society (MEKS) in May 2018. There are six players from Killarney: David Leacy, Jamie Wrenn, Galen Carroll, Billy Goulding, Frank McCarthy and Seán Corbett.
The club was affiliated to the Middle East GAA board as the 15th club in the region in August 2018 and it is the third club based in Dubai. Kerry are the first county club in the Middle East and 2018/2019 will be their first season. The inaugural training session was held on August 29 and 32 players showed up on the first night.
The club say their main aims are as follows: it is a welcoming and inclusive club for people of all backgrounds and skill levels and the focus is on the social aspect and enjoyment. They train and play “the Kerry way” with an emphasis on skill development and kicking. Players are asked to arrive 15 minutes before training to work on their kicking.
Since its inception, the club has worked tirelessly to stick to these ideals, promoting a low commitment of one night per week training policy. A “total football” approach is adopted to training. No exercises or drill is carried out without a ball, and there is supplementing training with plenty of challenge games against neighbouring clubs. In short, no laps, no wire to wires, just all ball work.
The club has been very successful at recruiting players who have not played Gaelic football for many years or those who had fallen out of love with the game due to the huge commitment involved back home. They have players from all four provinces, not just from Kerry. However, there is still a large Kerry presence, with approximately 20 players coming from the Kingdom. Peter Keane, the new Kerry boss, may be looking to this diaspora for players to be included in his panel. Three players in the club are novices to the game (one individual from Texas, USA and two Welsh lads).
Chairman: Jamie Wrenn (Killarney)
Vice Chairman: Seán Corbett (Ballyfinnane)
Secretary: Tim Sheahan (Glenbeigh)
PRO: Galen Carroll (Killarney)
Treasurer: Fergal Murphy (Castlegregory)
It is a very young committee and all committee members are players also. The head coach is Dean Cassidy, a PE teacher from Kenmare who is only 23 years of age. He also juggles playing senior football in the Middle East with Dubai Celts.
2018/19 Season So Far
The club has three adult men’s teams with over 60 registered players in total. Since it’s a new club, they had to start at the lowest grade – Junior B. The A and B team play in the Junior B league, and the 3rd team (Social) play in dedicated social competitions. Social level is not part of a league structure.
The A team is currently top of the Junior B league after two tournaments. With one more tournament to go in February, they are on track for promotion to Junior A next season. The B team is mid-table in the Junior B league, but they won the plate competition at the Dubai games in October. They are hoping to finish as high up the table as possible by the end of the season. The Social team won the Bahrain tournament competition in November.
Looking to the future, the club has ambitions for its teams to move up the grades, with the ultimate goal of competing at senior level in the Middle East GAA Leagues.
Next year, the club will launch its five-year plan in an effort to achieve both its on-field and off-field goals, ensuring a strong footing for the organisation in the years ahead. The initial successes of the club could not have been achieved without the support of the Kerry County Board (Tim Murphy and Maurice O’Meara) – who met with founding members of the club during the summer at the Centre of Excellence in Currans – the Middle East County Board and also sponsors, Kibsons International and Premier Brands International.