Weeshie's Week

Honouring Five Kerrymen on the Greatest London team 1960 - 2010

October 18th, 2011
by Weeshie Fogarty

Last week you read here a short account of my trip to New York in the company of Christy Riordan C/R videos and Kerry footballer Donie o Sullivan as we recorded the football and business careers of emigrants from all corners of Ireland. This week I am delighted to record the careers of some more Kerry men who were also forced to take the emigrant boat this time much closer to home, to England. It's an amazing fact that wherever Kerry men or women travel football becomes a huge part of their lives.  And indeed I will go further and say that they in turn have a massive impact for the greater good of those communities in which they settle down in life. However I often felt that with the continues and magnificent success of our Kerry team those who have left our shores and have been honored abroad are at times not recognized or appreciated for their success in other countries.

And so it's gratifying to report that a few weeks ago in London the greatest Gaelic footballers that city has seen during the years 1960-2010 inclusive were honored at a gala banquet at The Muswell Hill Golf Club London. Five Kerrymen were chosen on the" Greatest London Football Team "of the past fifty years, as voted by the readers of the Irish World newspaper who hosted the event. It was a night of great nostalgia and renewing old friend ships as tributes were rightly paid to those who once lit up the pitches of Mitcham, New Eltham and Ruislip. The paper was inundated with entries and there with the very best were five gifted Kerry footballers.  Kerry's loss was certainly London's gain as I have no doubt in my mind having trained with, played against and with some of these men they would have gone on to win senior All ireland medals with their county. Yes they were that good and four of them were the back bone and driving force of the powerful Kingdom team in London during what was a golden era for the club.

Tony Flavin, Ballydonoghue, London Club The Kingdom. Captained the London team that beat Leitrim in the Connacht Championship in 1977. He won six London Championships with The Kingdom between 1973 and 1978, plus five senior league titles and five All Britain Club Championships. Tony also won two All Ireland 7-a-Sides in 1975 -76. He played minor and under 21 with Kerry and help his county to under 21 and Junior Munster titles. In 1971 he won his All ireland Junior medal when London beat Dublin 1-9 to 0-9.  With him that day were four other Kerrymen. Jerry o Mahoney brilliant at mid field, John Thompson (Knocknagoshel), John o Mahoney and the brilliant dual player Pat Cronin (Lixnaw).

Jerry o Mahoney, Midfield, Renard, London Club, The Kingdom. Arguably the greatest Kerry footballer ever to play in England. Gave wonderful service to The Kingdom and was capable of matching any player from home or abroad. Jerry played minor and under 21 for Kerry before he immigrated to London in 1970. It was the beginning of a brilliant career as he won six London senior Championships, five senior leagues, five Club Championships of Britain and two All ireland 7-a-sides. He was one of the shinning stars as London beat Dublin in the Junior All Ireland final of 1971 and played for London in the Connaught Championship. Kerry's loss was definitely London's gain. A class player with the wonderful high fielding skills typical of a Kerry great.

Billy o Connell, Right half Forward, St Senans, London Club, The Kingdom. Played minor and under 21 for Kerry before he emigrated in 1972 where he joined The kingdom. He won two All ireland 7-a-sides, sic senior Championships, five senior football leagues and five club Championships of Britain. Billy was on the team which lost the final to Laois in 1973 but was a regular on all the teams of that era which contested the Connacht championship.

John o Mahoney, RIP, Renard, London Club The Kingdom. John played minor and under 21 for kerry before immigrating to Birmingham. He later moved to London and joined The Kingdom in 1970 with whome he won two All Ireland 7-a-sides, six senior football Championships, five Senior Leagues, and five Club Championships of Britain. Won his junior All ireland in 1971 also against Dublin and was a regular on the London teams that contested the Connaught Championship.  He was represented at the awards banquet by his friend John Lynch.

Gene o Driscoll, Annascaul, London Club, St Mary's. A huge loss to West Kerry and Kerry when he took the emigrant ship in 1962. Was on the first ever Kerry under 21 team which contested and won the Munster Championship in Kenmare in 1962. Also played senior for Kerry. He won a Junior Championship with Geraldine's before moving to St Mary's where he won a senior Championship in 1963. In 1969 Gene won his Junior All Ireland when London beat Wicklow in the final. Kerry team mates with him that day in London were John Fenton (Ventry), P. J. Fitzpatrick (Caherceiveen), and Harry Sheehan (Caherceiveen). By strange fate a Kerryman was in goal for Wicklow that day. Pat Cronin (North Kerry) was a star dual player with his adopted county. Gene later emigrated and played with New York where he remains resident. In 1962 the Annascaul native made three league appearances for Kerry, was drafted in at centre forward in the Munster final of that year against Cork. He was highly impressive scoring 1-1. It was his only championship outing for his county. He emigrated following this game.

That All Star London team 1960-2010 is as follows. Pat McGrath (Longford), John McCormack (Dublin), John Jennings (RIP, Mayo), Peter Prichford (Cavan), Tony Flavin (Kerry), Joe Madden (Mayo), Jerry o Mahoney (Kerry), Patsy McKenna (Fermanagh), Billy o Connell (Kerry), John o Mahoney (RIP, Kerry), Jackie Devine (Longford), John McParland), (Down), Brian Devlin (Derry), Gene o Driscoll (Kerry).

Subs. Malachy Nally (Mayo), Tommy Maguire( Fermanagh), D J o Shea (Cork), Kevin Maguire (Kildare), Tommy Green (Offaly), Sean Hendry (Monaghan), Dick Munnelly (RIP, Mayo).

Radio Kerry - The Voice of the Kingdom