Seamus Moynihan – A Tribute

Even in a County like Kerry, few players have left such an indelible mark following a long and successful inter-county career as Seamus Moynihan has. Here we reproduce some of the tributes written in the wake of his decision to retire following this year’s All Ireland defeat of Mayo.

The Irish Times Interview

On the Saturday after the All Ireland final, Seamus Moynihan announced his retirement from inter-couny football in an interview with Ian O’Riordan in The Irish Times. The following are selected extracts from that interview courtesy of The Irish Times.

Seamus Moynihan has been talking about last Sunday’s win over Mayo, possibly the most perfect and effortless game of his career. He reckons he’s fitter and stronger than he’s ever been in his life, that the future of football in Kerry has rarely looked brighter.
“I’ve played my last game for Kerry” he says. “It’s definitely finished for me now. I’d made my mind up about that a long time ago really, just didn’t want to go public with it. There’s no way it is going to get any better than this. I am as satisfied now as I’ll ever be. To be honest I said a long time ago that four All Irelands was my target. I said that well before this year. That was always my target in football, and I’ve achieved that now.

I’m 33 in October, getting married in July and there’s a lot of other things I’m looking forward to now. I know I am lucky to be able to walk away on a high like this, injury free, and still able to enjoy my club football which I hope to do for a few years yet”.

In the days after the 2005 All Ireland Final, closing time on the season and a natural time for reflection, Seamus Moynihan sees his whole career as a Kerry footballer spread out before him, and all that he can’t leave behind. He decides to give it one more year.

“I think the disappointment of losing to Tyrone, being taken off before the end, and knowing inside you weren’t doing yourself justice. I didn’t want to leave it like that. I didn’t want to finish on a low like that on a losing team.

And another reason was that the year before, when Kerry won in 2004, Darragh Ó Sé and I were only on the periphery of that final. Darragh broke his ankle and I had bone bruising on my ankle and only came on as a sub. I remember us both saying that whatever else we do we’ll have to win one more playing anyway, on the starting 15. All of that was the driving force really”.

Anyone who remembers Moynihan in his early years recalls a youngster with the schoolbag over one shoulder and the training bag over the other hitching a lift home. His two older brothers were his first inspiration but his love of football came from within. Part of the enjoyment came from the early taste of success. Moynihan won an All Ireland colleges medal with St Brendan’s College, Killarney and got his first trial with the Kerry seniors as a schoolboy in 1991. He was then famously given his first start in the Munster final of 1992 , the game that ended in a shock victory for Clare. He looks back on the formative years with special fondness.

“I think getting that so young meant I always wanted to make the most of it. And talking with Jack O’Shea or the Bomber Liston over the years they’d always tell me there was no better buzz than playing. I have great memories of playing with Jack O’Shea in 1992 and then the Bomber came back in 1993 and I got to play with him. When I got my first trial in 1991 against Laois, Pat Spillane was still playing. I’d have abiding memories of that kind of thing. Even though we were winning nothing around that time it didn’t matterto me because I could always say I played with those players. I learnt an awful lot from those first few years. Ogie Moran then came in as manager for three years and he was another big influence.

Things just took off from 1996 onwards, Maurice Fitzgerald opened up completely, and the likes of Darragh Ó Sé, Dara Ó Cinnéide, William Kirby, all came into a very solid team. We won our first Munster title in 1996 with Paidí Ó Sé except Mayo hammered us in the semi final. We were back in training four weeks later and made a massive effort in 1997 where we won the League and the All Ireland”.

That year Moynihan won his first All Star to add to his four Sigerson Cup medals. Kerry had a couple of off years in 1998 and 1999 yet Moynihan’s career continued to flourish, including four years with the Ireland team for the International Rules series with Australia, plus one of the real highs, winning the county title with East Kerry which rewarded him with the Kerry captaincy for 2000. Yet Moynihan needed to taste some real lows as well to keep his desire alive. They arrived in the form of Armagh in 2002 and Tyrone a year later in that infamous dog-fight of a semi final. The image of Moynihan trapped in front of the Hogan Stand tunnell by the swarming Armagh supporters as Kieran McGeeney delivered his All Ireland winning speech is etched in the mind of many Kerry supporters, in his own mind too.

“Sure that kind of hurt stays forever. Will always be there. It was the worst feeling in the world and you never get over it really. That was the most lonely place I have ever been. The fact is I met Ciarán McDonald there on Sunday, shook his hand and could really feel for him. I just knew the only thing for me to do was get back into the training and playing. If you sit down and do nothing about it then its even worse”.

When Moyniham made his mind up about giving it one more year, he’d continually remind himself he’d walk away at the end of it knowing he’d given his all.

“The plan was to sit out the League completely. I increased the aerobic training and I was always talking to Jack O’Connor , and as long as he heard I was training hard he didn’t mind. But I know he was anxious I did come back sooner rather than later. I knew I was coming back into shape so naturally then I felt I could give it one more go with Kerry. It all fell fortuitously that Mike McCarthy broke his finger because it gave me a chance to get back into the team straight away”.

Yet his path to redemption would present a couple of obstacles more – the most daunting of which looked to be the Munster final replay defeat to Cork.

“ Look, it wasn’t as if we set out not trying to win Munster. You cant come at it that way. But, in one way, losing was there was a big pressure release. The main target was still ahead of us. The changes were made after that obviously with Kieran Donaghy coming to full forward, and also Mike Frank Russell, Sean O’Sullivan and Tommy Griffin all coming back into form. All that renewed our hunger and enthusiasm”.

When it came to the All Ireland weekend Kerry’s passage now secure partly through Moynihan’s man-of-the-match performance over Cork, the confidence of the whole team was exactly where it needed to be.

“You have to go in there with a fair bit of confidence anyway. But I just felt the whole team was ready, couldn’t have done anymore. We’d no injuries, and everyone was going in there ready and able to give it their all. That’s really where you get your confidence from. I remember stopping for a kick around on the Sunday morning and I could sense all the lads jumping out of their skins , looking forward to the game”.

In the end, Kerry’s thirteen points victory provided Moynihan with the sense of total fulfilment he had pursued all year. When he reached the steps of the Hogan Stand with his team-mates, with Jamie in hand, and laughing with total abandon.

“Sure that had to be the greatest feeling in the world. When the final whistle went , I knew Jamie would be there at the top of the stand and that was a massive sense of satisfaction that he was here to witness this. I don’t know if I ever felt as satisfied, knowing it had all completed the way I wanted it. I honestly feel I was physically as good as I’ve ever been. I was able to go full throttle all year. It was like there were no brakes on me at all.

Obviously a year ago nobody was coming up saying it to me personally that I was finished. But you can imagine easy enough what’s going on out there. I imagine there were a lot of people even this year saying I was mad to come back. But I believe you know your own strengths and weaknesses better than anyone and I knew I had my homework done over the winter and had given myself every opportunity”.

He has no idea how many games he’s played for Kerry. Two numbers he does care about are zero (the number of times he’s been sent off) and four (the number of senior All Irelands he’s won.

“You can’t compare the four though, no, because they’re all so special. I certainly couldn’t put one over another anyway. Maybe in the years to come though, 2006 will possibly seem the sweetest”.

© The Irish Times

Glenflesk GAA Club Honour their Favourite Son

Almost 750 people packed the Conference Centre in The Great Southern Hotel on Friday January 19th 2007 for a banquet hosted by Glenflesk GAA Club in honour of their most famous son, Seamus Moynihan. Those gathered for the occasion included over one hundred invited guests from all over Ireland in what was virtually a who’s who of the gaelic football world. His own club members were out in force of course while famous faces from the last four or five decades could be seen rubbing shoulders and no doubt recalling some of the many Herculean performances given by a man generally regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and certainly the best of his generation.

Seamus, led to believe that the occasion was just an ordinary club social, arrived to find the assembled guests already seated and lying in wait for him. He was greeted by Fear an Tí for the night, Micheál Ó Muirceartaigh, and promptly received a tumultuous welcome and a standing ovation, the first of three standing ovations he received on the night.

A special video commissioned for the night, traced Seamus’ career through his minor days at club, colleges and Kerry level, on to his senior club career and through to his intercounty career. The video, which was divided into five ten minute sections, had a special section devoted to the Millenium year, 2000, during which he played probably the best football of his career. In the unlikely event that there was anybody present who would not have been aware of his prowness as a gaelic footballer, they would have left in no doubt as to his talents had they merely seen one of the ten minute sections.

Between the video clips, Micheál, as only he can, interviewed a wide cross section of the special guests including Sean and Fr. Larry Kelly, the chairmen of the Kerry and East Kerry committees, Sean Walsh and Ger Galvin respectively, Mickey Ned O‘Sullivan, Ogie Moran, Declan O‘Keeffe, Stephen Stack, intercounty referee Pat McAneaney from Monaghan, Galway players Ja Fallon and Padraig Joyce, Glen Ryan from Kildare, Dr Con Murphy from Cork, the two Daras, Ó’Se and Cinneide, and Jack O’Connor.

They regaled those present recalling memories of playing with and against the great man and many light hearted moments were also revisited. Pat McAneaney recalled the occasion during a Compromise Rules game when a dog made its way on to the pitch. McAneaney, who was refereeing, called for the dog to be taken off the field, however, Seamus Moynihan he said, told him to give the whistle to the dog and go off himself! McAneaney also recalled that on another occasion a player had advised him never to apply to take part in “Who wants to be a Millionaire”. “You’ll have a problem when it comes to phoning a friend” he was advised!

Jack O’Connor recalled how, on another occasion when Seamus was injured and was due to miss a championship game, Tom O’Sullivan had quipped “wouldn’t it be great to win one championship game without Seamus!!”.

His very good friend from his college days, Padraig Joyce was asked by Micheál as to what it was like to go on tours abroad with Seamus; “What goes on in tours stays on tour!” the Galway man quickly replied.

In a nice touch before he finished, Micheál called up Seamus’ father, Dan, and there were many bouts of laughter as the elder Moynihan recalled Seamus going through the pain barrier in the kitchen as he tried to nurse his injured ankles to recovery by soaking them in buckets of ice. “Nuala and myself got terrific enjoyment from watching him play especially in the All Irelands” he told a spellbound audience. “His heart and soul was with Glenflesk, and it will ever be” he concluded before the proud parents got a standing ovation from all present.

Finally Micheál called on Seamus himself who came to and left the podium to spontaneous standing ovations and not before he sprang a surprise or to on his interviewer I may add! His father, Dan, he said was born in Dublin and lived there until he was ten or so, while his mother Nuala, was a Corkwoman; “She always wore a red and white hat when going into Killarney to the Munster finals, but she usually came home without it!” he quipped. “John Egan was my hero when I was growing up, and I was very fortunate that I got the chance to play alongside some of the great players like Jacko, Pat Spillane and The Bomber when I was starting off. It was a great honour to play with Kerry and I was delighted to win so many honours with Glenflesk I am really very humbled to see so many people here tonight” he told the Fear an Tí. He humouredly recalled one occasion while playing underage with Glenflesk; “There were eleven of us playing football in Kelly’s yard awaiting the arrival of trainer John “twin” O’Donoghue in his mini car. On seeing the mini approaching someone shouted that the Glenflesk bus was coming – all eleven of us somehow fitted into the car and we were beaten 10-11 to no score!”

Michael O’Donoghue, chairman of the Glenflesk club, made a special presentation to Seamus of a leather bound photo album that was filled with cameos from an honours laden career. He also received a disk album laden with newspaper cuttings going right back to the late eighties and of course a copy of the specially commissioned Video tracing his career highlights.

Good wishes were received from the only member of the Moynihan family not present, Mike and his wife Maeve who are based in Boston, and from Seamus’ former playing colleague and Glenflesk team mate, John Crowley and his wife Marie, both of whom are based in Cyprus with the Garda Sicóhána.

All together, a memorable night, superbly organised by the Glenflesk Club and a fitting tribute to a great player.

What they Said to Micheál……

“In his first year in St Brendan’s College he played on every team from Under 16 down. Without hesitation, I would say that he was the best Colleges player that I ever saw”-Fr Larry Kelly, who trained St Brendans to the Hogan Cup triumph in 1992.

“During my nine years in charge he showed the utmost respect for county board officers at all times. Wherever you go in the world, Seamus Moynihan is mentioned”-Sean Walsh, Chairman Kerry County Committee.

“In 1999, Seamus returned on a Thursday from Australia where he had got the player of the series award, was first to the final training session in Spa on the Friday and on the Sunday he was named man of the match as East Kerry completed a three in a row of county championship titles with victory over Feale Rangers”-Ger Galvin, chairman of the East Kerry Committee.

“Seamus Moynihan and Jack O’Shea were the best players I have seen in my time following football. Seamus was very easy to manage; Of all the traits he has it is his fantastic attitude that really stands out”-Ogie Moran, winner of eight All Ireland medals and trainer of Kerry from 1993 to ‘95.

“Seamus was the most respected player of his generation by his fellow players and that is the ultimate accolade. He liked to do his talking on the field and players just gravitated to him. The defination of a great player is one who goes out game after game over along period of time and always give 100% regardless of the team you are playing with – Seamus always did that”-Mickey “Ned” O’Sullivan, former Kerry All Ireland winner and trainer of Kerry between 1990 and ‘92.

“It was a great honour for me to have played with Seamus at all levels up along. As a goalkeeper, if you had to pick a man to play outside you it would be Seamus. He was a born leader and he is a great personal friend”-Declan O’Keeffe, former Kerry goalkeeper.

“ I don’t think that I have seen a better player in the last thirty years. He was an unbelievable reader of the game, he could see danger coming and that is a great mark of a man”-Stephen Stack, former Kerry All Ireland winner.

“The main reason I came back as a player this year was that I heard of Seamus Moynihan’s retirement. I played championship against him at minor, Under 21 and senior and never won a game; Now’s my chance! …..Seamus was always a step ahead of you and he would be gone thirty yards in a couple of seconds clearing fellows out of his way. I am honoured to be here tonight”-Ja Fallon, Galway footballer.

“When Mick O’Dwyer came to Kildare first he was telling me all about this guy. Everything he said about him turned out to be true; ….He was a great man to have with you against the Australians!”-Glen Ryan, former Kildare player.

“Seamus was a great influence on my career. Unfortunately we ended up marking each other in an All Ireland final, however, I must say that no better man could have lifted the cup”-Padraig Joyce, Galway footballer and former playing coleague of Seamus at Tralee IT.

“ I never in my life saw a man more driven, especially in 2000 when he captained the team. He was a great man to rally the troops and lift the spirits after a defeat too”-Dara Ó Cinneide, former Kerry All Ireland winning captain.

“Seamus had the ability to transfer his enthusiasm on to others and unnoticed to yourself you would be doing that bit extra. He was a great ambassador for club and county and I was very lucky to play with him. In defeat too he was great, not very long after he would be talking about the following year”-Dara Ó Sé, Kerry footballer and All Ireland winning colleague.

“He was the most stubborn player I ever came across; I am speaking as a doctor of course!Loyalty, regardless of team, was his greatest asset. He was the best player ever to come out of UCC and I can tell you there is great relief in Cork now that he has retired!!”-Dr. Con Murphy, UCC and Cork.

“ He was very driven in every training session and gave huge encouragement to the rest of the players”-Pat Flanagan, former Kerry physical trainer.

“ He showed phenomenal leadership, it was like he showed us the way to the promised land. I got a text from him on Christmas Day last year saying he wanted to win one more medal on the field of play”-Jack O’Connor, former Kerry trainer.

Tributes Penned for the Banquet Night

Seamus Set High Standards – On and Off the Field

By Eugene McGee
Kerry have produced so many outstanding individual footballers in the past 101 years in the process of winning nearly one-third of the All-Irelands played in that time that nowadays it is difficult for a Kerry player to leave a really lasting impression. The recently retired Seamus Moynihan is an exception to that. The intercounty game has changed to the extent that nowadays the individual, no matter how good he is, is usually obliged to fit in with the team plan first and play his own style of football second. Many people, including myself, regret this development because while team performance is very important, what really excites the fans is the powerful individual display of one or more players than can be talked about for days afterwards and compared with similar feats of greatness from other great stars in times past.
No better Kerry example of this can be found than when Jack O’Shea had a brilliant game in the seventies and eighties and how the comparisons would be made with Mick O’Connell and Paddy Kennedy. Despite the demands of the modern ‘all-for-one’ team philosophy Seamus Moynihan was one player who managed to be a great team player but also was able to leave a lasting impression on Gaelic football by his own individual acts of skill. I have always had one basic measuring stick for assessing footballers : did they produce the goods for their team when the need was greatest ? There are lots of flashy players who turn on the style in matches where their team is winning handily and many of them got All Stars as a result. But often in the white heat of battle in an All-Ireland
semi-final or final these same lads were not to be seen .That could never be said about Glenflesk’s Seamus Moynihan.

During his career with Kerry the team had many ups and downs and while people will focus on his four All-Ireland medals there were many matches when Kerry struggled too and it was often then that Moynihan was at his best. And it was to him that Kerry turned in their hour of need in 2000 when they found themselves without a fullback. So Seamus converted overnight from a brilliant wing halfback into a similar fullback as Kerry beat Galway in the replayed All-Ireland final. Many midfielders have been converted into fullbacks in Kerry and elsewhere but is rare for a fairly slightly built wing halfback to make the change so successfully. His battles with his former Tralee I. T. colleague and friend Padraig Joyce were one of the highlights of those two finals. There was a seminal moment in the replay when a long ball was directed by Galway towards Joyce who had sneaked in behind Seamus and had it reached him it could have been catastrophic for Kerry. It did not seem possible for the Kerryman to reach the ball but somehow he did and danger was averted. In doing so he showed his most valuable trait as a player, the ability to read the play better than anyone around him. This is a hallmark of all great sportsmen and Moynihan used it to deadly effect over the years. That’s why the miraculous interceptions he made always seemed so easy because he had the uncanny knack of being in the right place nearly always.

In one way Seamus was unfortunate to be such a versatile player. It meant that he never got an extended spell in his best position at wing halfback because when there was a gap to be filled elsewhere in defence at fullback, cornerback or centre halfback he was the saviour who was always called upon. Many Kerry people regard matches against Cork as the ultimate test of a Kerry player and in this regard the Glenfleskman’s performance against the much taller Colin Corkery in a Munster final and a fabulous display at midfield one day in a league game in the late nineties in Pairc Ui Rinn ensured that he passed that demanding test.
Sometimes success at county level dilutes a players commitment to his club but the opposite was the case with Seamus and his beloved Glenflesk. Before he and Johnny Crowley came along the club had only won the O’Donoghue Cup ONCE. But Seamus inspired his native place to no less than FIVE triumphs in this hotly contested championship as well of course as helping East Kerry to three county titles. Being a great sportsman with recognition all over the country is one thing. But an even greater achievement is being able to carry that greatness with humility and modesty wherever you go both on and off the field. As the referees of Ireland will testify, Seamus did that on the field in style. Off the field he has set the standard in common sense, civility and humility for all other GAA players to follow.
Maybe that will be the Glenflesk player’s greatest legacy as the years go by.

The End of an Era

By John O’Leary, PRO East Kerry GAA Board

WELL one of the greatest players ever to don the green and gold geansaí has decided to hang up his boots after an illustrious and honours laden career. He may have made a rather inauspicious debut for the Kingdom way back in 1992 however Seamus Moynihan was always destined for greatness. The millenium year, 2000, when he ended up with “Player of the Year” an All Star, a Texaco award and of course captained the Kingdom to All Ireland glory, will probably always be remembered as his greatest year ever, however Seamus was very often as defiant in defeat as he was in victory. He will certainly stand side by side with the greatest players this county or country has produced. His final hour could not have been scripted better, bursting out past friend and foe and his reading of the game as impeccable as ever.

At club level of course he was a colossus and while Glenflesk could hardly be regarded as a one man team during his era, Seamus was the driving force that propelled this small rural club into third place in the East Kerry Championship rankings, winning five O’Donoghue Cups and shaking the might of Nemo Rangers in the Munster club final.

He was no less influential when winning three county championships on the trot with East Kerry. The 1999 final will always stand out in my mind for the man of the match performance he gave when defiantly standing between East Kerry and defeat against Feale Rangers. That performance was all the more exceptional given that, on the previous Thursday, he had just returned from Australia where he had been voted Player of the Series in the Compromise Rules games. I recall well that on the following evening after his return he was one of the first in the Spa dressing room for an East Kerry team meeting. His pre match and halftime speeches were of course the stuff of legend.

At this stage it is almost unimaginable to see Kerry coming out onto the field without “the Pony” bursting out with them. Thanks for the many memories Sheamo– John O’ Leary PRO East Kerry Board.

YOU cannot gild the lily, they say, and I won’t even try. Anyway, how could you do full justice in mere words to a man like Seamus Moynihan?

I had the enormous pleasure of watching him throughout his career and, having seen all the great players who went through from the mid 1950s, I state unequivocally that there was none better.And, you know something, you couldn’t find a nicer guy either. All that fame carried so lightly.Seamus, you were a credit to every jersey you ever wore, a credit to your club, your county, your family. All I can say is that if cloning was lawful, there would be one hell of a posse out to nab you!!Thank you for all the wonderful memories and, from a personal point of view, thank you for your kindness and cooperation at all times-John Barry, former Sports Editor of The Kerryman

ONE of the most complete footballers of modern times. Very few players can play as well in so many different positions. Seamus was at ease playing at full back, centre half back, midfield, centre forward or full forward. At all times a leader among men-Joe Kernan, Armagh Manager.

HE had a style and panache that was uniquely his, those dashing incisive runs from half back through opposing defences will forever be remembered by friend and foe alike. He never courted publicity, in fact he shied away from the media but I will always appreciate that not once did he turn me down for a television interview. Happy retirement Seamus but somehow I think we might see you again …. Maybe this time in the Sunday Game Studio!-Marty Morrissey, RTE.

If you ever wanted a man to go to war with then Seamus Moynihan would be one of the first to get the call. He is a colossus of a man as well as being one of the finest exponents of Gaelic Football as an art for as long as I have been watching the game.
A combination of power, speed, and great skill allied to a hunger for victory which never waned makes him one of the truly great players to emerge from a county where class has always been the quality young players aspire to, none more so than Seamus Moynihan. After the defeat by Tyrone I thought the sands of time had taken their toll, last years final showed that the man could still walk on water. He takes his leave after one of his finest hours, the whole country is grateful for fantastic enjoyment over more than a decade of loyal service to his Kingdom. On a personal level I am thankful for having had the opportunity to manage him in the International rules series. A man of great personal qualities he was a true giant of that game as well. A big loss to Kerry and the game itself is worse off without him but we were all lucky to have seen him play with such
distinction for so long.-Colm O’Rourke, Sunday Independent columnist.

THE recent tribute programme to Seamus on Radio Kerry included commentary from his first Munster final in 1992. I found it interesting to hear complimentary comments about his play from the late Liam Higgins and Weeshie Fogarty which portrayed him as the outstanding footballer he was to develop into. They talked about his ability ‘to nip in to win the ball and dance around opponents’ and they may very well have expressed similar sentiments during last year’s All-Ireland final.
In brief, Seamus set a very high standard from the very beginning of his career and maintained it throughout the 14 years that he wore the green and gold with such pride and distinction.
I remember him particularly for his outstanding role in the successful 2000 campaign, when he accepted his move to full-back without question – even though it curbed the flair and attacking instinct which characterised his brilliance as one of the game’s most accomplished half-backs of the modern generation. And, who could forget his exploits on the international stage, highlighted by his selection as the Irish player of the series in Australia in 1999.
In brief, Seamus Moynihan epitomised all that was best about Kerry and Gaelic football. Combined with his admirable human qualities – for which his parents Dan and Nuala must be given credit for inculcating – his reputation will live on long after his medals haul have been forgotten. Truly the complete footballer. And the complete person-Jim O’Sullivan, GAA Columnist, “Irish Examiner”

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