It's funny how as a Kerry person All-Ireland finals seem to be such markers in your life. They seem to be the memories around which that whole period of your life, where you were, what you were doing etc coalesce.
For me it started in 1997, that's the first I remember.
Too young to go myself and Dad could get no ticket anyway. But I remember the build up so clearly, going to school in Tralee. The town was festooned with flags and banners, can't remember too much about the game itself but will never forget the aftermath. The excitement, and joy, Dad throwing us all into the car and heading into Tralee with every house we passed having kids or people out at the gate waving flags and jumping around.
The town itself was like what I've seen in Rio at Carnival, the streets black, everyone hugging, dancing, singing, belting the roof of cars, climbing signposts and street lamps. I said it before, having endured the lean years as a child I never got what Kerry football really was or meant until that day. Then coming home in the car Dad turning around with a wink and saying, 'sure we couldn't make ye go to school tomorrow now after that' - more bedlam in the back seat!
Going into Tralee the next evening sitting in the old White House bar having a coke, watching the latest episode of Fr Ted while we waited for the team to arrive, they seemed to take forever!
Then in 2000, my first final, got a ticket through a friend's father and a bus was leaving Kilflynn special. Again can't remember too much about the match itself just the occasion of being in Croker for the first time, seeing the crowds.
Didn't get any ticket for the replay but it seemed to be almost Halloween by the time it was played it was so late in the year. The Friday before I climbed up to the roof of the shed, the highest point around the house, and planted a massive Kerry flag (they were the big rectangular ones that had the county crest on them, they were class and all the rage back then. Don't really see them now but I still have mine). Remember the skill of the Galway team but most of all remember the titian Seamus Moynihan running the show!
2002, oh God, in a pub in Maynooth (of all places) only after starting college that week. Smiling to the others in the bar at half time that this one's in the bag only for the unthinkable to happen. It was a lonely trip back to my digs in Dublin that night.
2004, sure we were still on the tear after the sisters wedding, confident that Jack would have these lads right and sure it was only Mayo, and so it came to pass!
2005, sitting down on the Hill watching Tyrone lift the cup, I seemed to be the only person up there at that stage. Absolutely gutted, was so sure we'd teach these upstarts. Didn't even bother meeting the others after or going for a drink, just went straight back to my place and went to bed depressed!
2006, ah what a day!! The sun shinning on the Hill and the game over after 10 minutes so you could just relax and enjoy it all, take everything in, the brilliance of Gooch, the towering presence of Star and Darragh in midfield whipping the floor with them. On the pitch afterwards and then out to Flannerys for the night, drinking, filtering, having the craic. Two of us must have woken up every neighbor walking back through estate I rented in singing '34, 34, 34' - Uni was done and was heading off to backpack around some far reaches of the world a week later, great times!!
And sure they got even better in 2007! Watching on from the hill again as we murdered the Blood and Red - yes Galvin was right everything was on the line that day, EVERYTHING!!! We could never have lived down a defeat to that shower and look what we did to them, squashed them like bugs (apparently a car was burnt outside Croker police wanted to question Alan Quirke as to his whereabouts between 3:30-5:00pm ha ha). Then walking down the Quays after to the Merchant O'Sea's (Horse's favorite place) and giving the first pump as the Cork supporters buses streamed home with faces like sick dogs staring after you. Later on in O'Connell St as a soft rain fell we happened upon the man in sombrero looking like the last child in a playground when everyone else's been called home for supper. But I was felling generous and left him walk by without comment ;D
2007 kind of gives me hope for Sunday week when again potentially Kerry's tradition is again on the line.
Then there was 2008, utter devastation!! Had just started back in Uni and a great buzz being back doing something I really wanted to do after drifting about in various, unfulfilling jobs for a couple of years. Two of us wrangled tickets from a friend of a friend's Dad in Mayers about an hour to go! Up in the Canal End. Fully confident of the 3 in a row, this was the finest Kerry side since the mid-80s, full of winners, full of heroes. Our cause was just, the Galvin debacle, all the slurry talked in the media of Ulster teams having out number. Tyrone Enemy No 1, feck their beards we have the Twin Towers! Oh Lord the devastation at full time, we were close, so close. Declan, ah Declan if that shot was just an inch to the right it would have burst the back of the net - 6 minutes to go, 2 up, game over! An older gentleman sitting next to me, who was perfectly calm all match, has a meltdown, F-this, F-that, kicks the seat and storms off. The apologetic wife leans over and whispers, 'I'm so sorry about that he had £5,000 on the game' - Holy Ghost and I thought I felt bad!!! Trugged back to the Gresham, few of the lads all smiles, don't feel so bad man, sure we've won plenty, wasn't our day. Can't deal with that talk, two of us run off to Flannerys again to drown, and I mean drown the heartache. My friend decides to throw up over the spare jersey I gave him, still got the shift after mind - some girls have no class ;D I'm mopping around still as the bouncers are calling time until this girl comes over and smiles and say's isn't it terrible to be thrown out of a place so early. That's the next three years of my life right there so it wasn't all bad I suppose.
2009, back in the big time, last time I've been on the Hill too. Jack's second coming, Galvin playing like a man possessed, Darran giving us that bit of speed and Declan, Gooch and Star doing their thing! Having gone through the despair of leaving PUC in June, watching on in horror as Sligo bossed us in our back yard to the annihilation of certain earwigs it was a sweet one. Let's be honest though, the final was a dull dull game but was brightened by a certain young Tommy Walsh looking like he was going to carry Kerry for the next decade on his back. One last pitch invasion before the GAA took away another great tradition!! Oh if the Corkonians were too devastated in 2007 to say anything, they were fierce cranky that night! But I'm generous in victory and stayed out of trouble!
Do we have to talk about 2011? Best seats I ever had at a game, directly overlooking the presentation stand. Dubs and all around me shaking hands with 6 minutes to go, giving the wink and saying 'fair play to Kerry, ye've done it again' and then the man of the 20 steps and that's all she wrote. And there I was thinking 2008 felt bad! Kept a promise to a friend to call up to the Raheny club bar, having appeared out there after the Quarter in 2009 as smug as a cat with the two bottles of cream. Big cheer goes up when the sole Kerry jersey walks in, it was mad, md night up there, but I experience it in a detached numb kind of way. Someone fella decides my Kerry rain jacket would make a great souvenir and heads off with while I'm at the bar - Cheers for that by the way!! Doesn't get any better the next day, only one thing to do, have a shower and then carry on trying to make the drink take the pain away. I keep the Kerry jersey on, I'm not going to hide from these Jackeens. Hordes of them on their way to and from their home coming, hoping ball, all in good fun. Newly single now too, convince two of the lads to come out and make a night of it - back to Flannerys so. A girl shoots over early enough in the night; fair play to you for having the Kerry jersey on, thought ye were unlucky, I'm moving away to Dubai for a year on Friday just having a last few nights out in Ireland. Fancy coming home with me later? Later, what about right now! Into a takeaway first, check no money in the pocket, all assets have been exhausted after this long weekend in the Capital. I insist I'm not hungry but she buys me a chips and burger. Hail down a taxi with the grub, she jumps in, then turns and says listen can you pay for the taxi. I shamefully admit to my financial straits, she puts her eyes to heaven, grabs the food off me, slams the door and drives out of my life. She was a fine looking girl to, to add insult to injury it occurs to me, why didn't I just ask one of the lads for a loan of €20 when I was leaving!
2014, actually had class tickets. Got one of the Co. Board but myself and my girlfriend entered that Specsavers competition and won two tickets off them (remember the one they were running where you had the guess the name of a load of clubs from the 1 or 2 pictures they had to represent it). Could barely watch the second half I was so tense, I just kept praying to God that Kerry would come out on top, then Mr What Do You Think of That did his thing, what a moment!! Down to Mulligans and the street outside was buzzing with Kerry fans, songs and laughter into the night, ended up in McGowens in Phibsborough with plenty of Donegal people inside, hopping the ball and having the craic, lovely people. Myself, the misses and the brother hopped into the car as soon as we were sober the next day and straight down to Kerry. Radio Kerry put the match commentary back on air, Weeshie (RIP) was screaming about the Star's goal as we whizzed past Adare with the horns beeping. Ashe St that night was special, no-one saw it coming, but what a campaign it was. Into the Greyhound for the night, the cocktail sausages and chips being shoved out to patrons, the Misses (only new to Kerry at this point) marvelling at the idea of a pub giving customers food for free!
2015, another case of what might have been. Ah Killian if you had held that pass and got the shot away we probably would have sneaked it. Drenched going in, drenched and miserable going out. My Raheny friend all smug again inviting us to the Blind Ref in Ballybough, I think if we went in there in a Kerry jersey any other night of the year we'd have been shot, but they were in fine form that evening and we even did some karaoke. A strange experience, ended out in Whelans till all hours and as ever, it took a good few days to shake off the utter disappointment and have it evolve into mild depression! Like 08 and 11 before it, 15 was a long winter.
So I'll say my prayer for a short one now:
May our legs be swift and our aim true,
May our courage be boundless and our tackling too,
May they tear into Dublin like 15 madmen,
And in the end may the Kingdom welcome home Sam
TheHermit (Kerry) - Posts: 5563 - 21/08/2019 13:57:17