Weeshie's Week

Unique occasion with Tipperary taking on Kerry in Munster Final

June 28th, 2016
by Weeshie Fogarty

As Tipperary race on to the green sward of Fitzgerald Stadium next Sunday and coming off possibly one of their most comprehensive victory in Munster football following the defeat of Cork, the first time in over seventy years and the recent success of their U21s and indeed minors, it wouldn't be remiss to consider this Tipperary's greatest chance of overturning Kerry in the championship for the first time in nearly ninety years years. The huge number of Liam Kerins panel as they come through from underage, don't know what it's like to fear the green and gold.

The old adage, blood is thicker than water will certainly be at the back of my mind next Sunday when the two counties come face to face in Killarney because in my situation my father and of course my grandfather were born and bred Tipp men. So that leaves me with that Tipp blood coursing somewhere through my veins. In fact and it is only as I write this that I now realise I actually saw Tipp play in a football game even before I witnessed and fell in love with the green and gold.

On holidays in Husseystown a little townland between Cahir and Clonmel away back in the middle fifties my late brother Geni and I were transported via pony and trap the five miles to Clonmel to see the home county take on Waterford in a first round Munster senior championship match. My grandfather had tremendous pride and joy in his little pony and trap and everything was always shining bright and glossy as he would head for the nearby towns especially to mass on the Sundays. It was a completely different era away back then and transport to the big games was via horse and traps, bicycles and supporters walking miles to get to the Clonmel venue, home of the famed Tipperary club Clonmel Commercials.

Memories of course are hazy, but I do remember the joy in my grandfather's face on the way home as Tipp had won and a few names I do recall from the winning side included Tony Newport, Liam Boland, Leo Dooley and Tom o Dea. My love and passion for football definetly came from my Tipperary grandfather and I was always fascinated by the beautiful star shaped silver medal he wore on his waistcoat pocket watch chain. He had won it in 1897 playing for the local team with the fascinating name Cahir Faugh-A-Ballagh. When he died he had left instructions that I was to have the medal. It is now one my most prized possessions together with a beautiful photograph of that that long forgotten winning Cahir team.

And it was just a few years later, 1958 to be very precise that I saw my first ever Kerry/Tipperary championship game. June 29th 1958 I travelled to Thurles with boyhood friends by train, a short step from the station to Semple Stadium where Kerry were more than fortunate to win, 1-6 to 0-7. Kerry had approached that match at probably their lowest point ever in their history having been sensationally beaten by Waterford the previous year and if Tipperary were ever going to lower the Kingdom banner that day was probably their best opportunity for many years.

There were five changes in the side that had lost to Waterford, Ned Fitzgerald, Pop Fitzgerald, Tom Collins Micheal Kerins, Tom Long and stand in goalkeeper in that historic defeat to Waterford Tim Barrett all lost out. But it took a goal and a point from wing back Mick o Dwyer to see the Kingdom through. Tipp had loads of possession but as often happens lack of scoring potential left them down that day 58 years ago. Kerry beat Cork in the Munster final, 2-17 to 0-3 but subsequently lost the All-Ireland semi-final to Derry. . A second such defeat to minnows would have been cataclysmic in the county but O'Dwyer worked wonders on a day when the whole forward line posted just three points.

In 2010 Meath beat Louth with a shambolic Joe Sheridan injury time goal which should have been disallowed in the Leinster final in Croke Park. It was one of the greatest injustices we have ever seen in a championship match. However an even greater injustice in my opinion was visited on Tipperary when they played Kerry in Tralee in the first round of the championship in 1999. Kerry won the game, 1-11 to 0-8.

 Kerry had been held scoreless for almost half an hour in the second half but the damage had been done in the eighth minute when Gerry Murphy's shot was deemed a goal even though it clearly hit the stanchion and gone wide. Tipperary later appealed the result but failed. I had a clear view of the incident from my Radio Kerry commentary position. It happened at the so called Horans goal. Gerry Murphy from Rathmore, a strong skilful stocky corner forward with a powerful kick cut in from the right side, his shot for goal hit the stanchion low down on THE OUTSIDE of the goal, the late Liam Higgins and I called a wide but unbelievable the umpire raised the green flag. There was consternation, but the goal stood. Maurice Fitzgerald with four points, John McGlynn, Brian Clark and Billy o Shea also scored. 

In an interview following the match Tipperary selector Colm o Flaherty told me "The big boys like Cork and Kerry are the teams who always get the breaks. It was a total disgrace what went on out there; we even considered refusing to come out for the second half". All the same, Kerry had two penalties saved, nevertheless it was a very unsporting episode in the Kerry football story, and I remain fully they should at least have offered a re-play.

August 2nd 1998, again in the magnificent Semple Stadium, Tipperary had another opportunity to down the Kingdom who had beaten Cork in the semi-final. Declan Browne one of the greatest footballers of his era fired over seven points  and a mere one-point margin stood between the sides at half-time, 0-7 to 0-6. Kerry looked more like themselves in the second half before substitute James Williams' goal for Tipperary. But the Kingdom kept calm and quickly consolidated their lead. It finished 0-17 to 1-10.

Tipp's legendary hurling goalkeeper Brendan Cummins, who lined out at wing forward for Tipperary that day, told me afterwards: "After we got the goal we needed to get another point quickly in order to build on it but instead they scored and that gave them breathing space and seemed to give them real confidence." Maurice Fitzgerald kicked ten magnificent points, Pa Laide, two, Mike Frank, Donal Daly Dara o Cinneide and Johnny Crowley also raised white flags as Kerry won their 66th Munster title. Kerry fell to Mick o Dwyer's Kildare in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Tipperary's defeat of Cork was an astonishing achievement considering they had lost some of their best players during the year. Three went to America, Colin o Riordan one of their greatest under age stars went to Australian Rules football, two more joined the hurling panel and long serving Paddy Codd and Barry Grogan retired. So what Liam Kerins has achieved to keep his side in Division three and reach a Munster final is remarkable.

One thing we can be sure of, Kerry will have to bring their top form into this match because with players such as Peter Acheston and Michael Quinlivan backed up by youngsters like Martin Dunn, Jimmy Feehan and Colm o Shaughnessy have no fear of Kerry. However just like Clare in the first round who struggled to reach the pace of the game Tipperary too will suffer due to their division three league standard. This is the biggest problem for the so called weaker counties and nothing short of a handy Kerry win would be a surprise and Kerry never underestimates any opponent.

Fogra; Killarney and Dr Crokes lost one of their most loyal, faithful and exemplary servants when Paddy "Bomber" o Shea was laid to rest yesterday, Tuesday in Adhadoe. My lifelong o Sullivan's Place neighbour was an outstanding sportsman. He wore the green and gold at minor hurling for Kerry for two years and also in junior football, he won three Kerry minor hurling county championship medals with Killarney, o Donoghue Cup medals with his beloved Dr Crokes with whom he served as chairman for a number of years and back in 1951 Paddy won a minor football county championship with Dick Fitzgerald's. Basketball was introduced to Killarney in the early fifties and Bomber was there from the onset and became one of the stars of a great Killarney United team who dominated Killarney and Kerry championships. To his wife Ann, sons and daughters, brother and sister and his wide extended family we offer our sincere sympathy's. 

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