Kerry footballing legend Mick O'Dwyer was presented - once again - with the Sam Maguire trophy at a civic reception to honour him in Tralee on Monday.
It had been smuggled out of Croke Park on Sunday after what had not been a good day at the office for the county, with the Kerry football team being well-beaten by a rampant Dublin in the National League.
There were two standing ovations in the packed council chamber for the man described as “one of life’s great winners” .
Team captains and many of the players who distinguished themselves under Micko's reign as manager turned out and they included Mickey Ned O'Sullivan, Tommy Doyle, Pat Spillane, Ogie Moran, Jimmy Deenihan, Eoin Bomber Liston and Ger Power.
Padraig, son of the late Paidi Ó Sé was there in his late father’s stead.
Fine Gael Councillor Mike Kennelly, brother of the late Tim Kennelly had proposed the reception. He told of how his mother would give Tim steak for breakfast and threaten him : "If you don't behave, Dwyer will kill you."
Listing the captains present, Kennelly said there was one name left out, a man who had stayed in Micko's house in Waterville on many occasions and there was no way he was going to miss the honouring of an old friend.
“So today, Micko, I present to you Sam Maguire,” he said, unveiling the silver cup to the surprise of O’Dwyer.
Tim Murphy, the chairman of the Kerry County Board, revealed how he and Mikey Sheehy had smuggled Sam out of Croke Park in a black plastic sack. They had arranged the handover with the Dublin management, but did not want to be seen with the cup after such a defeat.
‘To hell with National Leagues’
O’Dwyer said it was great to see so many of the players he trained – he loved to see fellows suffer, he quipped, to laughter. “ We could have won nine all-Ireland titles in a row that time, ” he said.
It was great to see the game on Sunday, he said.“But remember it was only the National League. The aim in this county is to win All-Irelands. To hell with National Leagues,” he said, raising his voice.
To bring Kerry back to its glory days, he advised Tim Murphy, chair of the Kerry County Board, to forget about pastas and “all that rubbish”.
“Our meals were plenty steak, and plenty milk and plenty steak and plenty milk, I can assure you, is as good as any of these pastas and all that rubbish.”
He told the chairman to “put a bit of steak” into the current team and “we’ll be seeing All-Irelands coming back here in the future”.
The Cathaoirleach of Kerry County Council, Cllr John Sheahan, said that between 1954 and 1989, as a player and manager with Kerry, O'Dwyer "brought Kerry football on the most wonderful roller-coaster of a journey".
As player and then manager, Mick O’Dwyer won 12 All-Irelands, 11 National Leagues and 23 Munster titles.
“He was one of the greatest Kerry footballers ever, and then as manager he nurtured the talents of some of the all-time great footballers. These are achievements that are unlikely ever to be surpassed in the future,’ said Cllr Sheahan.
Chief executive of of Kerry County Council Moira Murrell said that even people like herself who had no great football expertise, were conscious of the pride O'Dweyr brought to Kerry. He was a huge role model and had provided inspiration for many a generation. His work-rate, his sense of modesty and groundedness and his sense of place were inspirational, she said.