All is quiet in the Kingdom camp . . . too damn quiet, if you ask me
Most Kerry people are walking juke boxes when it comes to ballads about dead Kerry heroes
Most Kerry people are walking juke boxes when it comes to ballads about dead Kerry heroes. They sang brilliantly until dawn broke, decided they better call it a night and caught 90 minutes sleep before my friend, the host, awoke everyone with a gargantuan breakfast.
Everyone was on the road by noon and parked in the usual spot near the Clonliffe before meeting assorted friends and relatives in front of The Big Tree and strolling down to duly watch Kerry win the All-Ireland final.
Then they melted away from the capital, happy with another harvest. In the car on the way in, the 1980s finals came up fleetingly in conversation and then someone said, “These are great days too”.
And they have been. Now Kerry are one game away from another September. Have they ever made it this far with such stealth?
Clock is ticking
The decision to leave Kieran Donaghy on the bench for tomorrow’s game is a vital reminder the clock is ticking for several of this Kerry team. As Eamonn Fitzmaurice remarked during the week, this season could represent a “last hurrah” for several senior squad members.
That is a sobering thought for Kingdom fans, who could be forgiving for believing several of this generation would go on forever. Take Tomás Ó Sé, for example.
When you consider this era of Kerry football players, when you look past the uncanny genius of Cooper or the aerial magnificence of the older Ó Sé brother or the all-round game of the younger, when you recall the effortless grace and power of Fitzgerald or the frightening dependability of Séamus Moynihan and after you name check Mike Frank and the O’Sullivans and Ó Cinnéide and the iconoclastic Mr Galvin, it could well be the essence of Kerry’s pomp and consistency is best personified by the middle Ó Sé, sparking off any number of wing forwards, winning awkward ball and always, it seems, producing one of those invaluable cantering points along the right wing whenever the county needed it.
Through Tomás Ó Sé, it is easy to trace Kerry’s modern period of dominance: he made his debut the year after late uncle Páidí guided Kerry back to the bright lights in 1997 and has owned that right wing spot since. Whenever he decides to bow out that Kerry people will know that the curtain has fallen on an entire era.
So there is a cause about Kerry this year. Yes, they are moving into a new phase under Fitzmaurice, but a gilded generation is fighting against time here and there is a do-not-go-gently mood about this game against their metropolitan rivals. Jim Gavin, the Dublin manager, wisely decided against romanticising the Kerry-Dublin rivalry: why have his young team get tangled up in myth and history?
No, it will be up to the Kerry men to ensure this most celebrated of GAA rivalries has another rich chapter by tomorrow night. The Kerry carnival is in town and it is as if nobody has noticed and now you can feel it in the air: Something wicked this way comes.