Fr Brian Kelly – Larger Than Life Figure

A few short weeks before Christmas, Fr. Brian Kelly, a larger than life character, and a great GAA man, was laid to rest. His nephew, iár Uachtarán CLG Seán Kelly, penned this tribute to his late uncle on the occasion of the recent East Kerry championship – O’Donoghue Cup – final.

It’s rather strange to be writing an article about one so close to you so soon after he passed away, but Fr. Brian would want me to do it and he’d appreciate the thoughtfulness and opportunity afforded to me by the E.K.B.

The O’Donoghue Cup final places us all firmly at home in East Kerry and places East Kerry at the centre of the universe. Winning the O’Donoghue Cup means everything to clubs and players in East Kerry. In the seventies it meant everything to Fr. Brian. In ’72 when we won the O’Sullivan Cup (and lost the O’Donoghue Cup) he said at our dinner dance “When all fruit fails, welcome news.” Thankfully he trained us to welcome the fruit the following year.

Divisional Board Championships have a life and soul of their own. Fr. Brian had trained Glenbeigh to make the great break-through in Mid Kerry and he was really proud of those Mid Kerry Championships too especially as the unheralded Glanbeigh-Glencar were competing in a division incorporating the mighty Pack Four Men of Laune Rangers.

Later Fr. Brian as P.P. in Allihies trained that club called Garnish to win their first Beara Championship in 27 years. He got great satisfaction from that as they had only a “páircín” to play on and had a very tiny population. They celebrated that win as only fishing communities can and Fr. Brian was proud as punch of them. One of that team, Ger Harrington, is now chairman of the Dublin County Board.

But while Fr. Brian enjoyed great successes with Kilcummin, Allihies and Glenbeigh his most famous achievement had to be training Mid Kerry to win their first county title in 1967. They had lost the previous year and it was a major break through for the mid Kerry men, and indeed for Kerry, and whole new generations of stars emerged from that little division to wear the green and gold of Kerry with pride and distinction for many years. He was always very proud of his players and in turn they remained loyal and grateful to him all his life.

Many may not know that when he was based in Dingle he was also chairman of the West Kerry Board and started under age competitions in the area. Among those who often praised him for this initiative and said he benefited greatly from the new competitions was Páidí Ó’Sé. Páidí told me that he also served mass for Fr. Brian. Páidí picked up Fr. Brian’s fanatical zeal for football. He didn’t however follow him into the priesthood!

Fr. Brian was also chairman of the mid Kerry Board for some time and had a great working relationship with his great pal from the Laune, former County Board Treasurer, Jimmy Coffey.

Ironically he was due to come with me to the launch of a great mid-Kerry footballer, Pat Ahern’s book in Jimmy Coffey’s during the summer when, unfortunately, illness prevented him from doing so.

The large crowd who attended his removal and funeral and who came from all corners of Kerry and beyond, was testament to the high esteem in which Fr. Brian was held. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Mickey Culloty gets the Legion Hall of Fame Award.

At the Legion social on New Years Eve, Mickey Culloty was named as the Hall of Fame Award winner – the first time that that distinction has been awarded posthumously. Mickey was an all round sportsman and had distinguished careers in football, hurling and basketball. He played senior football with the club for close on twenty years and is only one of two players – the other being his brother Johnny – to hold three O’Donoghue Cup medals from the successes in 1954, ‘55 and ‘67. In the company of his brother Johnny, he won three county minor hurling championship titles with Killarney (1950 to ‘52) at a time when Laois man, Ben Campion, played a major role in the promotion of the ancient code. Mickey was also on the Killarney team who shocked the hurling world in 1969 by defeating Causeway, Kenmare and Abbeydorney before accounting for Austin Stacks in the county senior hurling final. Mickey was corner back on that famous day and incidentally on the Stacks side was none other than Tommy “Bracker” Regan now of course a fully fledged Killarney man. Following his retirement from the playing side Mickey went on to fill various positions within his beloved Legion club before taking ill on his way out of Croke Park following the 1997 All Ireland Final. He passed away a few days later.

It was a nice touch by the Legion club to recognise his achievements and dedication to the club and the Vincent Doyle trophy was presented to his wife Mitzy by club chairman, Sean O’Sullivan.

Dan Creedon R.I.P.

The death occurred in early January of former Rathmore and East Kerry player Dan Creedon. Dan was midfield with Larry Kelly on the Rathmore team that defeated Dr Crokes in the 1963 O’Donoghue Cup final, the first time a rural club won the cup depriving the townside of eight in a row and indeed of a possible ten in a row. Dan captained East Kerry in the 1964 county final when defeated by Shannon rangers on a score of 1-10 to 1-5. That team, who had defeated Austin Stacks, Mid Kerry and West Kerry on the way to the final, lined out as follows: Weeshie Fogarty, Lois Nolan, Jerry McCarthy, Dan Lynch, Derry Crowley, Tom Long, Dan Creedon (Capt.), Jimmy Hegarty and Tim Sheehan, Gerry Cullinane, Noel Healy, Pat Moynihan, Pat Cahill, Johnny Culloty, Michael Lyne.

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