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Kerry GAA discussion thread #2

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  • Registered Users Posts: 7,748 ✭✭✭corny


    Even if Fitzmaurice is a decent manager (I think he is) its blindingly obvious things are stale in the set up.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,983 ✭✭✭mystic86


    Colm Cooper - ‘I was a walking shell after Dad’s death but it forced me to grow up’

    ‘I inherited my passion for football from my father and his passing had a huge impact . . . People were constantly reaching out and I kept pushing them away’
    They say at home that I’m very closed as a person and I suppose my father’s death proved it.
    I give little enough away at the best of times but, when I lost him, I pretty much went into a shell. I shut people out. I moped. I sulked. I bristled. I internalised everything I suppose, communicating to everyone around me an impression of preciousness that I now regret. It was as if I was taking exclusive ownership of the family’s grief.

    No question, I inherited my passion for football from Mike Cooper. When I was a child, if there was a game he wanted to see, he assumed that I wanted to see it too. It wouldn’t require an actual conversation. Just a throwaway, ‘We might head over to Glenflesk tonight...’ would be enough. Soon as he’d have the dinner down, away with us in the car. The conversation wouldn’t ever really feel like father and son. He’d toss things out to me as if I was one of his buddies hunched over a pint down in Jimmy O’Brien’s.
    I’m not saying we were exactly full of chat every time we sat in the car, but I could almost pretend I was an adult when it came to dissecting what we’d see. Now he mightn’t have been paying a blind bit of notice to anything I had to say, but I suppose the beauty was it never felt that way.

    The suddenness of his death had a brutal impact on us all. I can see that clearly now. But at the time, I behaved as if I was the only one dealing with a terrible loss. As if I was his only child.


    * * * * *


    I WAS WORKING the counter that morning in the bank when an ashen-looking Patrick O’Sullivan came through the door.
    I could see immediately that something was seriously wrong. ‘Gooch, come away with me, something’s after happening your father up the road...’ The ‘up the road’ Patrick was referring to was a building site just at the back of Ardshanavooly where Deerpark Shopping Centre was under construction. Patrick didn’t let on, but he already knew my father was gone.
    My father took his last breath no more than 200 yards from our front-door. Just walking across the yard when cut down by a massive heart attack. My poor mother was coming out the front door as we pulled up, but the reality hadn’t really dawned on me. I remember thinking that Dad might have had a fall or maybe been hit by some kind of machinery. In my head, he was still with us, injured but alive.
    But they were just putting him into the back of the ambulance as we arrived, their efforts to resuscitate over. And that’s when my heart sank. ‘Very sorry,’ the medics mumbled, their heads shaking. They let us climb into the back of the ambulance, closing the door behind us so that we could say a private goodbye. Just two or three last minutes with my father, poor Mam near hysterical. Then they took him away to Tralee, leaving us to stumble back to a house that would never feel the same.

    The days that followed are a blur. My sisters took charge of organising the funeral, the rest of us really just sitting around in a daze as the house became flooded with friends and neighbours. The body was brought home and we laid him out in the front room. I remember shaking a lot of hands but, largely, just sitting there in silence. It was as if a bomb had gone off inside my head.

    Dad had no history of heart trouble, but he’d been quite sick with pneumonia through Christmas of ’05 and, in hindsight, I’m not really sure he ever managed to shake that. He’d been in hospital for a few days but couldn’t bear it there. Like Mam – and most of their generation – he was a smoker too and we could tell he wasn’t really himself for a long time after he came home. He just looked and sounded washed out, but yearned for the comforts of routine.
    In the end, I’d say he was nearly lying to himself just to get back working. All I do know is his death felt cruel and unfair.
    When someone is taken from you so suddenly, I think you lose the motivation to do anything for a while. There’s a feeling that life should almost stop right there and then, that it’s inappropriate to be happy. I didn’t verbalise any of this because that’s just not what an Irish male does.

    But I became full of self-pity in the months after my father died. As if the whole world was against me. People were constantly reaching out and I kept pushing them away. Not in an aggressive way. Just by being that ‘closed book’ my sisters often refer to. By being constantly cranky.

    ‘What are you trying to help me for?’
    ‘I don’t need your help!’

    I had the barriers up, shutting everybody out. Acting tough I suppose. I was too immature to understand what I was doing, too young maybe to see the bigger picture. And I kind of resented the publicity my father’s funeral drew, with photographs in the papers. That didn’t sit well with me at all. Because of my profile, the event was considered a news story. A national news story even.

    And all I’m hearing is: ‘How is Colm?’
    This would go on right through the summer of ’06 and, f**k, it wrecked my head. I felt as if I was living in a goldfish bowl. Being famous in a small town, people presume so many things about you. It’s like they consider you some kind of local ambassador nearly. Everybody means well, but it can start to feel suffocating. Total strangers addressing you as ‘Gooch’. Not Colm. ‘Gooch’.

    One thing I do understand is that I have a huge connection with Killarney and Kerry people in general. Killarney people have had access to me all the time. I’m one of their own. I’d say some maybe can’t believe how successful I became, that I got to be a national star. But I’ve always been THEIR star.

    But I wanted to hide in the summer of ’06. I wanted to be invisible. But how could I do that, sitting at a counter in AIB on Main Street? Walking down the street with an instantly recognisable face? Training above in the park? I was visible everywhere and it felt, at times, as if I was trying to handle my grief in full public view.
    Then there was the pressure of expectation. The football talk. The worry about my form and how it might impact on Kerry’s hopes of winning the All-Ireland. Even grieving, that remained. Deep down, all I wanted to do was get to f**k out of Dodge, but people still wanted things from me. They wanted me to be Gooch.

    I had zero interest in playing against the Dubs that Sunday. Zero. I knew there was going to be a minute’s silence for my father beforehand. But even the thought of that was draining to me now. I wanted to be a million miles away from it. To be left alone. Jack O’Connor called to the house that Friday and said he wouldn’t push me either way. That they’d love to have me tog out, but the decision would be mine.

    When he left, I turned to my mother and said, ‘I’m not playing, I’ve no energy for that. The week has worn me out...’ And that’s when she said that my father would probably like me to tog out.
    And I was ‘F**k sake...’

    What could I do? To be fair to Mam, she didn’t give a s**t about Kerry in this situation. She was concerned only about her family. She was always thinking about what would be ‘the right thing’ to do and, just as importantly, to be seen to do. Initially, I was even angry about that. I had barely slept all week and felt emotionally and physically drained.

    But I did what she said, came on as a sub, scored a point with my first touch and the place went absolutely mental. And that moment gave me a little surge of energy. But it was artificial energy. I was Kerry’s key man and people needed to know where they stood with me. We were coming into pre-Championship training and I had no energy, no zest, no enthusiasm for the game at all. I was a walking shell.
    Jack, to be fair, was trying to give me space. We won the League almost without trying, but I was a million miles off where I needed to be. He knew I was too stubborn to talk things through with anyone. My family knew. I got a few b*****kings off the brothers in that time, just having a little go at me over ‘the way you’re acting...’

    I look back on that summer and they spent the entire time walking on eggshells when they were around me. I was completely selfish, carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. Communicating this message ‘Give me f**king space’ when they’re trying to get over their own grief while raising kids.

    My only defence is that I was really just a kid myself. I thought I had all the answers. But the truth is, none of us had.
    The shock that runs through you almost pulverises your whole system. You can’t just take a tablet and be cured. I suppose my father dying forced me, eventually, to grow up in a way that took some time for me to understand.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,983 ✭✭✭mystic86


    'F**k this,' I say. 'I’m going for a few pints' - Colm Cooper on being dropped in 2009

    Jack’s back, but things are different now. The atmosphere feels skewed. He knows it, we know it. He’s written a book and there’s stuff in those pages that some feel flew just a little too close to the bone. He’s been tiptoeing around some of the boys like someone who’s just not sure what bad weather might be rolling around inside their heads. We win our 19th League title, beating Derry in the final, but the truth? I remember none of it.
    I won’t say it means nothing, but it’s just not what we’re after. Tyrone are still on our clothes, still in our heads. There’s a contrariness in the group and I’m just not sure it’s a healthy one.
    ‘Keys To The Kingdom – The Story of the Outsider who led Kerry back to glory’ has been more than a year on the shelves now so every smidgin in it has been dissected and analysed. Some lads probably read more than they wanted.

    So was Jack ever going to be accepted by the group the way he was the first time? Questionable.
    I wouldn’t call it a stand-off as such, but there’s definitely a sense that the chemistry here needs a bucket and some suds. Everything feels forced. Are fellas buying totally into what the manager’s now telling us? Not sure.

    I suspect when Jack did the book he didn’t imagine he’d be walking back into a Kerry dressing-room so soon again. Probably reckoned he had a bit of licence. Now he’s carrying it around in his body language. ‘F**k it, we’re sound lads aren’t we?
    ‘Lads?’

    We draw the Munster semi-final with Cork in Killarney. My town and we nearly stink the place out. How we got away with it, I’ll never know. Cork were better than us but in the same way people seem to think we’ve got a bit of a psychological issue with Northern teams, I’m beginning to wonder if Cork have that with us. The closer they got to the finish line, the more blinkered they seemed to become.
    I remember standing there in the Park at one point, wondering ‘Are we f**king gone here?’

    Funny, people have been telling us we have no heart, but heart is the only thing that got us out of Fitzgerald Stadium that day. We dogged out the draw. Pure Kerry stubbornness.

    But it feels like we’re just re-arranging deck chairs on a ship that’s going down here. One week later, Cork hand us our arses in a bag. Hammer us. We don’t seem to know what we’re doing and the management don’t seem to know how they want us to do it. Now we’re down the Qualifier road with all its sneaky mines and dead ends and lads looking for a big fish to fry.

    Struggle

    We play Longford in Longford and struggle. Then we take Sligo by a point in Tralee. Sligo by a point? They miss a penalty with about five minutes to go. Jesus wept, we’re all over the place. We look like a team with no game-plan, no idea of who or what we want to be. Worse, there’s not a shred of hunger in what we’re doing. I’m sitting there in the dressing-room afterwards and I can’t believe how bad things feel. And if I feel it, others have to feel it. One Kerry player feeling out of sorts and not playing well isn’t going to be enough for Sligo to nearly beat us in Tralee. But we’re all walking around like ghosts.

    Jack’s brought Mike McCarthy back into the panel and your first thought at seeing that is ,‘Well f**k it, management definitely doesn’t trust these players’. Mike hasn’t played for Kerry in three years. He’s got no training done, no strength and conditioning. He’s got no League behind him. For me, the sight of Mike coming in the gate to training just compounds the sense of things being all over the place.
    Don’t get me wrong. Mike Mac is a different animal, I know that.
    But if I’m a Kerry defender and I see the SOS going out in July for a man who hasn’t played county football since ‘06, I have to be thinking, ‘Hang on, what the f**k am I doing here? I’ve been killing myself since January, doing all the weights and Jack seems to think nothing of bringing in a lad who’s done none of that stuff.’

    Still, maybe we’re just forgetting who Mike Mac is.

    Anyway, we’re absolutely haunted to get out of Tralee. Now I’m a closed enough person and, if I’m honest, I’m just bottling up all the bad stuff in my head now. I get back to my house in Killarney and I’ve cabin fever. No way can I just sit here tonight, staring at the walls. I’m depressed with this and I just know I need to switch off. Things just feel all over the place.
    ‘F**k this,’ I say. ‘I’m going for a few pints.’

    Just me and a high stool. That’s the only relationship I want now. No talk, no bulls**t. I don’t ring anyone. I don’t want to be getting anyone else in trouble but my head is like a ticking bomb here. And, if I don’t switch off, I know I’ll have a sleepless night. So I take myself in to Jade’s on New Street. Find a spot where I can watch the golf from America on TV. I’ve always been quite happy with my own company in a pub and now that’s the only company that appeals to me.

    Now and again, someone sidles over. ‘What happened ye?’ This kind of line. ‘Yerra look, we didn’t play well,’ I say. I’ve no interest in going any deeper. Only people inside the bubble understand what we’re going through now and I’ve certainly no interest in opening up to anyone here in the pub. The golf gets my attention. I’m polite, but pointedly distant. So I sit there till closing time, head home and slip away into a welcome sleep.
    I knew the rules, of course. No pints. We had Antrim in a week and, well, Jack wouldn’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to hear if one of his better-known players was supping Guinness on a Saturday night in Killarney.

    We’ve training the following Tuesday and the call I’m half expecting comes that morning. ‘Gooch, I want you to come into training early!’ F**k, bad news travels fast. Next thing, Darragh Ó Sé is on the line. ‘Just to mark your card, my man knows that yourself and Tomás had pints at the weekend.’

    Darragh might think he’s just made my heart sink, but all I’m thinking is, ‘Hallelujah. Tomás was on the beer too? There might be safety in numbers here.’
    Still, I’m probably bolshie on the phone with him. All I’m feeling is frustration.

    ‘I don’t give a f**k’ I say. ‘I have to go in and talk to him this evening anyway.’

    ‘I don’t know,’ says Darragh, ‘but there’s talk about him not playing ye at the weekend.’
    ‘Darragh, does it f**king matter who he plays? We’re all over the f**king shop!’

    ‘Look, I’m just marking your card.’

    ‘Yeah, sound!’
    I thought Tomás and I would be called before the court together, but Jack decides to deal with us individually. So I arrive into Fitzgerald Stadium, toss my bag in a corner and because there are other lads in there early too, doing their stretches, Jack calls me outside. ‘Come out here, I want to talk to you!’

    Now what follows is fairly one-sided because I put up no defence.

    ‘Were you drinking at the weekend?’
    ‘I was yeah!’

    ‘Well f**k it Gooch, we’re finding things hard enough...’

    ‘I know...’

    ‘I’d expect you to show some example...’
    ‘I know..’

    ‘I need you to be a f**king leader in this group and...’

    ‘I know Jack, I know...’

    Then he finishes up by saying we’re going to have a meeting and ‘I don’t f**king know if you’re going to be playing at the weekend now.’ Call it stubborn, ignorant or whatever, that’d be Jack’s way. I was alright with it. I’d been in the wrong, end of story.
    But next thing the meeting is called upstairs and Jack’s nowhere to be seen. None of the management are. Jack’s called the meeting, sent up Declan O’Sullivan and Micheál Quirke to chair it and decided to leave us at it. Ah Jesus. I’m fit to be tied now. To me, he had to be chairing that meeting. If we were going to be talking about leadership and why things were going so bad, should management not have been part of that conversation?

    But the meeting was only about Tomás and me. About drink and the bold boys we were. Nothing else on the agenda. Lord Christ, we’d come clean. We hadn’t lied about it. We were taking whatever punishment came our way on the chin. The dogs in the street could see Kerry were all over the shop, but it was as if Jack and the management have decided that Tomás and I were the only problem.

    He should have been there in that room and he should have given it to the two of us between the eyes. ‘Lads ye were f**king out of line and the two of ye have been around long enough to know better. We’re all really f**king disappointed in ye. Ye’re not starting at the weekend!’

    Bang. Done and dusted.

    Trouble is, he’s still tip-toeing. So Declan and Mike are in the chair, Tomás and myself apologise. We know we’re wrong but f**k we’re not schoolchildren here. Nobody discusses a punishment and then the two boys go back down to report to Jack. F**k sake, treat us like adults. Two fellas who’ve been playing for Kerry for years, this is just f**king bananas. Even now, thinking back on it just drives me bonkers. Next thing we hear a story’s going to the media that the two of us are being ‘rested’ against Antrim. Like the media are going to swallow that? Kerry are stinking the place out and they’re ‘resting’ two of their most experienced players. A load of b*****ks. Did management honestly think that 30 players would leave the Park that night and not say anything to their girlfriend, father, brother, sister or mother?

    What happens?

    Next day, it’s front page of a national newspaper. Front page. My mother’s looking at this, my family’s looking at this. Jesus Christ, we drank a few pints. Professional rugby players will do that after a Six Nations game. Premier League soccer players? No problem. And here we are two amateur Gaelic footballers and the idea that we drank a few pints after a game is front page of a national newspaper.

    To this day, I’m convinced it was because of the way it was handled. Because Jack and the management weren’t willing to tell anyone the truth. Everyone knew we’d been drinking, so how were you going to sell that ‘rested’ story to anyone?

    Jack and I are stubborn enough characters and we laugh about it now. My relationship with him has always been good since. He’d say to me, ‘If yourself and Tomás f**ked off, sure I’d have had to walk!’

    Looking back, I’d say he had bigger worries at the time. I’d say he was half afraid that Darragh and Marc might have taken issue with him nailing Tomás. And, if the Ó Sés were unhappy, Jack was in trouble. Believe me, this hadn’t been our first meeting about breaches of discipline. I suppose boys will be boys!

    From day one, he didn’t believe the Ó Sés were buying into him. He always felt friction I suppose because of the Páidí thing in ‘03 and any impression that he might have had a role in getting rid of him. Now he had no hand, act or part in getting rid of Páidí, I can say that for absolute certain. But blood is thicker than water. So Jack felt under that pressure. But he should have come into the meeting, dropped us for the weekend. Job done. Myself and Tomás would be fairly cold about these things. We weren’t going to bear any grudges, didn’t have time for them. If anything, I’d say both of us were thinking, ‘If we don’t win this All-Ireland, we’ll be the ones blamed!’

    And, trust me, we were a long way away from an All-Ireland leaving Fitzgerald Stadium that night. A million miles away to be honest.

    Nothing had been resolved. No mention of tactics or a game-plan for the weekend in all the hysteria about pints. I was thick as anything heading home that Jack hadn’t fronted up. Still am to this very day.

    Because that wasn’t the way to do it and I’ll always stand over that opinion. That said, knowing what came later, I don’t doubt Jack will stand over his.

    Anyway, we play Antrim in Tullamore and the engine is still pinking. Tomás and I are both sent in early and Galvin gets a late goal to give us a five-point win. Flatters us. We’re still diseased. The train journey home takes us on some kind of grim safari through the Irish midlands. Lads have headphones on and eyes on the floor. Then word comes through of the quarter-final draw. Dublin.

    The gloom lifts immediately. There’s an energy in us all of a sudden. Thanks be to f**k, a game to find out if we’re made of steel or straw. Lads start talking almost immediately. It’s as if we’ve all been plugged into the mains. As I’m getting off the train, I send Tomás a jokey text. ‘Are you going for a jar?’

    Everything feels lighter.

    The Dubs were playing well and we knew they didn’t fear us. But we didn’t fear them either because they’d never beaten this Kerry team.

    For us, a side barely able to put one foot in front of the other, they were perfect for our mood now. Maybe they gave us a little inner viciousness back. Because we knew they’d think we were there for the taking.

    And a whole pile of frustration would come pouring out of us that day.

    For me, particularly. I got a goal at the Hill end after just 40 seconds and I think you can see in the fist-pump afterwards that I was there for business. What was I thinking? ‘No more Mister F**king Nice Guy’, that’s what. I think I’d scored the grand total of 0-5 from play in our five Championship games until then. I wasn’t leading. Then the pints thing blew up and, if I’m honest, I felt under ridiculous pressure.

    But I also felt that this was the game that could change everything.

    Mike Mac was now centre-back, Tommy Griffin back on the edge of the square and, defensively, things felt more solid. And next thing this man who hadn’t played inter-county football for three years comes floating up the field, the blue sea opening up in front of him. One of Mike Mac’s solos goes so high, he actually nods the ball with his head. But, still, he’s coming.

    I’m no more than half in his eye-line, but maybe he knows the bad mood I’m in. Maybe he’s thinking, ‘If I get to this fella inside, there’s every chance he’ll stick it!’ David Henry is marking me but I’ve found a yard and, as the ball arrives, I know I need to get the shot away quickly because Stephen Cluxton is advancing. When it hits the net, I roar like a f**king bear. Nothing intelligible, just a roar.

    But one that says, ‘We’re back!’

    The Dubs don’t know what’s hit them. As we get well on top, I’m going around almost boiling up with anger. Just before half-time, we’re awarded a free about five yards outside the ‘45’. Darragh has the ball in his hands. ‘Give it to me,’ I say.

    ‘What are you going to do with it?’

    ‘What the f**k do you think I’m going to do with it, I’m going to kick it over.’

    He sees a look in my eyes I’d say he hasn’t seen before. Hands me the ball. And I drill this kick, no higher than 15 metres at any point straight over the bar. Like a f**king exocet. BOOM. And that’s me making a statement. A statement about being treated like a school kid. About people trying to put me under pressure. About fellas trying to crack me.

    They’d poked the bear. That’s how I felt. F**k the lot of them.

    We win pulling up. Seventeen points. A slaughter. Jack didn’t see that performance coming. None of us did. How could we? We’d been operating under a cloud, all kinds of gloomy stories leaking from the camp, most of them untrue. Going absolutely nowhere and, next thing, something about the sight of Dublin gave us a pulse.

    Anyway, Croke Park was our playground. People should have known it.

    We beat Meath then in a nondescript semi-final on a greasy day. And we leave Croker, looking ahead to the perfect last chapter of a ridiculous season. Another All-Ireland final against Cork. The boys that gave us such a licking in July. They’re swallowing hard now and we know it.

    Cork start like a whirlwind and at that moment when Colm O’Neill’s early shot explodes high into the Canal End net, I will admit I’m worried.

    They race into a five-point lead, but they’re like a prize-fighter who’s put too much into the early rounds. Jack gets his match-ups spot on. Tom Sullivan on Goulding. Griffin, eventually, on O’Neill. At the far end, Tommy Walsh on Shields.

    I’d say we win nearly 12 of the 15 individual battles and manage a nine-point turnaround, winning by four. We’re Cork’s worst nightmare. This is our fifth consecutive Croke Park win over them and, somehow, we just know they don’t believe they can beat us there.

    It was Darragh’s last game and, suddenly, everything looked like a poem that rhymed in every sentence. We’d come through so much adversity to bring the cannister home. Half the year, people telling us we had no fight, no stomach. People seeing the drinking story and thinking some of us were just some kind of rabble.

    I enjoyed the homecoming on Monday night but with the Cup going to Glenbeigh that Tuesday to honour captain, Darran O’Sullivan, I decided to get out of Dodge.

    Took a flight to Malaga out of Shannon with a good buddy of mine, Edmund O’Sullivan. Just wanted to be invisible. I could sense there was going to be a lot of noise around Kerry now and I didn’t want any part in it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,983 ✭✭✭mystic86


    ‘Eamonn started selling me the fairytale of another year but he was selling the fairytale to a cold fish’

    PROLOGUE ‘I wanted people to ask why was I retiring, not why wasn’t I retiring’ — AP McCoy, in ‘Being AP’
    In the end, people probably wanted me to be somebody that I could never be. They wanted sentiment. They wanted emotion. Maybe they wanted tears even. But after all these years it seemed they still didn’t quite get me.
    That’s what I said to Eamonn Fitzmaurice, sitting in the kitchen of his house in Tralee six days after the All-Ireland Club final. I knew it was time. Eamonn had texted me after that Dr Crokes win, just a single congratulatory sentence. ‘Well done, we’ll catch up soon...’ He needed clarity and, in some respects, maybe I needed it even more than him.

    So after a little gentle, dancing-around-the-houses, banter with Tina, we left her with the baby and settled down over two cups of tea. And Eamonn began selling the attractions of another year with Kerry. Telling me how they could tailor my training. How there wouldn’t have to be any flogging of a ageing body. He re-assured me that I was playing well and could still add value to the group. And he suggested that I think about how it might feel, drawing the curtain down on my Kerry career with a September finish in Croker.
    Then, finally, the coup de grace. ‘And remember,’ he said, ‘a Dr Crokes man will be captain!’

    It seemed the whole world assumed that I’d go another year, but I’d been explaining to Eamonn why my instinct was to walk away. I’d endured another year of almost relentless physical niggles, a shoulder issue after the Corofin game, a stiffening back during the build-up to the final. Right up to that game with Slaughtneil, it seemed I was nursing something, trying endlessly to coax my body to an effort it simply wasn’t happy to make. I felt tired and, if I’m honest, maybe even slightly soft now.
    Eamonn, to be fair, was respectful of what he was hearing. He’d seen the s**t days, the head-wrecking days when I was down in the dumps, but trying to put on a brave face so as not to drag others down with me. He knew me too long and too well to recognise when I was putting on a front. More than anything, he recognised that I knew my body’s limits. But as he started selling me the fairytale, I felt a need to tell him something he didn’t seem to know.

    That he was selling the fairytale to a cold fish.
    Retirements were never an emotional issue for me and this one was going to be no different. ‘Listen,’ I said. ‘I didn’t pick up the phone when Aidan (O’Mahony) or Marc (Ó Sé) retired. Great friends, great team-mates, but that’s not me. The show goes on, no matter who it is that walks away. I might drop them a text a few days later, but that’s all.

    ‘I was still a Kerry player, they weren’t. F**k it, we move on. They can’t help me get my hands on Sam anymore!’
    And I told him it was the same when Darragh (Ó Sé) went, when any of the other big dogs left. There was no RIP stuff from me. No sentimental bulls**t. I said, ‘Listen Eamonn, I didn’t give a f**k about you when you retired!’
    He burst out laughing at that.
    ‘I don’t mean it that way,’ I protested.

    And Eamonn goes, ‘I know, I know. But you’re dead right. Listen, if somebody can’t help me win the All-Ireland, I have to move on too!’

    I could tell he didn’t want me to leave his house that night with the door completely closed. And after 15 years, that was fair enough. But, deep down, I recognised that the very things he was selling me, the personally-tailored training programme, the indulgences that would probably never be considered for others, the special treatment in other words would – if anything – just amplify all the doubts now splashing around inside my head.
    To be hard enough for Championship, I needed to be hard enough in how I prepared. That meant ten more weeks of torture. Did I have the hunger? The appetite? The anger?
    No. No. No.

    So when I heard Tony McCoy utter that sentence in the TV documentary on his final year’s racing, it was as if he could see inside my head. I was fine with people asking me why I was retiring, but the idea that they’d ever get to the point of wondering why I wasn’t, would have cut me to the core.

    I’m a lot of things you see but, above anything, I’m a proud b*****d. I like to think I’ve a good manner with people, but I don’t play this phoney humble Joe stuff either. I know I was good. On my best days, I sometimes felt almost anything was within my powers.
    So the idea of being a five- or ten-minute man? Of, maybe, being a non-playing captain? Nope. Not a hope in hell.

    I stayed for maybe an hour that Thursday evening and agreed to mull over things for the weekend. But, if I’m honest, my head was already clear.

    The only soul-searching I’d done had been with myself and that was for a reason. Because if I allowed any bit of sentiment into the decision, I’d have been back training with Kerry. I knew that.
    The following Monday, I made that final call. Came in the door from work, suit still on, and dialled Eamonn’s number.

    It’s not the calmest I’ve ever felt in my life, the heart thumping, perspiration running down my back. My head was a blizzard of questions. How would I replace the adrenaline? The buzz? The thrill of playing in front of 80,000 people? Truth is, I don’t suppose I ever will.

    All anyone can do is get on with the rest of their life.
    Eamonn’s response was calm. ‘Okay,’ he said, ‘I got that sense last week you weren’t for turning...’

    Then he started thanking me for my service and I suppose, in the way of a typical Irish male, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with that.

    And you know something? Hanging up, all I felt was huge relief.
    I’d taken sentiment out of the decision, weighed up everything completely logically, and made the jump.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 31,904 CMod ✭✭✭✭ShamoBuc


    Please tell me you didn't type all that :pac:


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  • Registered Users Posts: 17,763 ✭✭✭✭keane2097


    Stacks relegated and well beaten in the town league final.
    Now they are out and we're into a semi and still not at our best- happy days

    Didn't know there was a new thread, was disgusted there was no mention of the last few brilliant weeks for me to bask in the glow of :pac:
    Same As wrote: »
    Play Kerry football where possible and stop attempting to be a chameleon team. Impose our style of play on others and not vice versa.

    Excellent and crucial point re:the inter county sideshow team.


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,193 ✭✭✭✭Kerrydude1981


    DK5rKjlWAAEYpaH.jpg


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,548 ✭✭✭Same As


    Regurgitating a stat from Terrace Talk this week...

    From 170 Minor Players used by Kerry since 2010, only 7* (realised it's actually 8) have since played senior inter-county championship.
    Brian Begley, Tadhg Morley, Tom Sullivan, Jack Barry, Jack Savage, Kevin McCarthy, Pa Kilkenny & Tony Brosnan.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 17,945 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves


    Same As wrote: »
    Regurgitating a stat from Terrace Talk this week...

    From 170 Minor Players used by Kerry since 2010, only 7 have since played senior inter-county championship.
    Brian Begley, Tadhg Morley, Tom Sullivan, Jack Barry, Jack Savage, Kevin McCarthy and Tony Brosnan.

    That is a frightening stastic. What makes it worse is when you look at the match day panels this year the amount of old players warming a seat.

    Slava Ukrainii



  • Registered Users Posts: 4,379 ✭✭✭wonga77


    especially when you consider that only Morley has really made a proper breakthrough. Some of the players mentioned have very little game time


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,299 ✭✭✭djPSB


    Crokes to win at the weekend?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,511 ✭✭✭50HX


    Same As wrote: »
    Regurgitating a stat from Terrace Talk this week...

    From 170 Minor Players used by Kerry since 2010, only 7* (realised it's actually 8) have since played senior inter-county championship.
    Brian Begley, Tadhg Morley, Tom Sullivan, Jack Barry, Jack Savage, Kevin McCarthy, Pa Kilkenny & Tony Brosnan.

    interesting stat

    how does that compare to 2002-2009 i wonder


  • Registered Users Posts: 752 ✭✭✭JFlah


    djPSB wrote: »
    Crokes to win at the weekend?

    Yes, relatively easily.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,265 ✭✭✭ciarriaithuaidh


    50HX wrote: »
    interesting stat

    how does that compare to 2002-2009 i wonder

    At a brief glance for 2002-2009 it would be 21 at least I reckon. That's with some frankly average minor teams often with poor management if we're being honest. Paul Geaney, Barry John Keane and Mark Griffin were subs under 1 particular manager..and it wasn't that they hadn't developed at that stage. ��

    When you consider that we've had decent (or for the past 4 years, excellent) minor squads since at least 2012, with top level management - and playing smart, attractive football at that..the conservatism of the current manager is just ridiculous.

    Yes he did well to win in 2014, but every other year in his reign has ended in a game or games that leave you tearing your hair out at crazy managerial decisions or obvious tactical failures etc.

    Jack Sherwood in 2013, Almost every decision made on the line in 2015 final, taking off Paul Geaney (supposedly due to GPS Stats!) in 2016 semi final, then the absolute debacle of the Mayo replay this year.

    The normal rebuttal I hear to this is "who else is there shur". Peter Keane is a well respected club manager who took on the job of minor manager when Jack had won 2 titles. He followed it up by winnng 2 more in arguably even more impressive fashion. I'd be far happier if he were in charge of the seniors heading into 2018 with a mandate of a 3 year plan.
    If we get ANYTHING like the same from Fitzmaurice it could set us back years when we're already steps behind Dublin and maybe Mayo.


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,945 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves


    50HX wrote: »
    interesting stat

    how does that compare to 2002-2009 i wonder
    At a brief glance for 2002-2009 it would be 21 at least I reckon. .

    You also have to remember from 2002 to 2009 we had a sucessfull county team taht was winning All Irelands so in theory it should have been harder for new players to make a place on the team

    Slava Ukrainii



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,548 ✭✭✭Same As


    JFlah wrote: »
    Yes, relatively easily.

    Disagree with that part


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,807 ✭✭✭✭Fr Tod Umptious


    You also have to remember from 2002 to 2009 we had a sucessfull county team taht was winning All Irelands so in theory it should have been harder for new players to make a place on the team


    Plus the minors won nothing during that time so I don't think the comparison is very useful.

    A better one would be player turnover between the two periods, keeping in mind the success of the earlier period


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,945 ✭✭✭✭Bass Reeves


    Plus the minors won nothing during that time so I don't think the comparison is very useful.

    A better one would be player turnover between the two periods, keeping in mind the success of the earlier period

    Or average age of squad and age profile. While the comparison may be raw data you have to consider that it seems during a sucessfull period we turned over more players than with a sucessful squad than we are doing now.

    Slava Ukrainii



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  • Registered Users Posts: 36 greysheep


    I presume the 10 years are 2006-2016 as minors are not eligible to play senior so this year couldnt count.

    Of the players that did play senior - how many did Fitzmaurice give debut to?

    How many made their debuts under the managers in the 5 years prior to Fitzmaurice's tenure?

    Mention to Paul Murphy that didn't play minor and is now one of the first names on the teamsheet.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 336 ✭✭Benildus


    A lot of excitement on the internet with the news about David Clifford staying.

    It might temper the enthusiasm if people read the full story with says he is only staying for 2018, so he could still head off in 2019...


  • Registered Users Posts: 752 ✭✭✭JFlah


    Same As wrote: »
    Disagree with that part

    Very easily or not so easily ??

    Essentially playing an intermediate team all be it a decent one.


  • Registered Users Posts: 14,807 ✭✭✭✭Fr Tod Umptious


    Benildus wrote: »
    A lot of excitement on the internet with the news about David Clifford staying.

    It might temper the enthusiasm if people read the full story with says he is only staying for 2018, so he could still head off in 2019...

    What also might temper enthusiasm is the fact that the guy is just out of minor.

    People are talking about him being the saviour.
    I know there is a problem with Fitzmaurice not bringing in enough young players but don't expect this guy to be the finished article just yet either.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,665 ✭✭✭Bonniedog


    Rahillys today. Good bet?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,893 ✭✭✭Poor_old_gill


    Bonniedog wrote: »
    Rahillys today. Good bet?

    I think they’ll win but they can be very flakey so I wouldn’t bet on it with any great confidence


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,998 ✭✭✭blowitupref


    What also might temper enthusiasm is the fact that the guy is just out of minor.

    People are talking about him being the saviour.
    I know there is a problem with Fitzmaurice not bringing in enough young players but don't expect this guy to be the finished article just yet either.
    Next year you have scenario of picking young players for U20 or senior football you can't play both. A bit of dilemma for Fitzmaurice and Jack O Connor


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,935 ✭✭✭Radio5


    Crokes v South Kerry Final then on the 22nd.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,453 ✭✭✭dobman88


    Is it gonna be on eir? Was delighted to get to see the games at the weekend


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  • Registered Users Posts: 14,193 ✭✭✭✭Kerrydude1981


    David Clifford confirmed on Terrace Talk last night that he is staying with Kerry



    https://www.balls.ie/gaa/david-clifford-grew-dreaming-playing-kerry-not-becoming-aussie-rules-player-375467


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