LIKE United and City in Manchester and Liverpool and Everton on Merseyside, the age-old rivalry between Killarney GAA clubs Dr Crokes and Legion has divided sporting opinion in the town for well over a generation.
And, local observers know full well, there’s nothing quite like the atmosphere at a local derby encounter, at any age level, particularly when the result is vital to both sides and opinion is split in the stands.
But while the banter and slagging, usually light-hearted and witty but occasionally cutting and provocative, is normally reserved for the terraces and on the high stools in the hostelries frequented by both sets of fans, it’s very rare indeed that the intense rivalry surfaces in the political debating chamber.
Until now, that is.
At this week’s meeting of Killarney Municipal District Council, life-long Legion supporter Cllr Donal Grady proposed that new public lighting be erected in the Ballydribeen area of Killarney which leads to the Legion GAA Club grounds at Dereen.
Mayor Michael Gleeson, a Spa clubman, agreed it would be a worthwhile project and he noted that it had already been a very bright year for Legion who won their first East Kerry SFC title since 1976 when they beat the Crokes in the final.
Quick as a flash, Dr Crokes selector, Cllr Niall O’Callaghan, planted his tongue firmly in his cheek and asked: “I wonder do they need a new light for their trophy cabinet?”
After much chuckling, more guffawing and the type of giddy and robust exchanges one would normally expect to hear on the terraces in Fitzgerald Stadium, council officials soon cast a dark shadow on the debate when they insisted that public lighting could only be added in the area if a public footpath was being provided. A large capital investment would be needed as it would necessitate land acquisition and the council currently has no funding available.
So while the roadway to the Legion clubhouse remains in the dark for now, at least supporters will have the warm glow of success to brighten up the dark winter nights.
After a 43-year wait for an O’Donoghue Cup – Cllr O’Callaghan was making his first communion when they last won it – another year or two waiting for a few street lights is a thing of nothing.
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