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The day the minor footballers were the parish heroes

A LONE piper led the victory parade through the parish as the footballers of Gneeveguilla celebrated their brilliant Kerry Premier Junior Championship success with a hard-earned 0-12 to 0-9 victory over Skellig Rangers at Killarney’s Fitzgerald Stadium at the weekend.

But it wasn’t the first big glory day for the football-made parish as 36 years ago this week the Gneeveguilla minor footballers made their own little bit of sporting history when they won an historic first ever minor county title for the club.

History makers: The Gneeveguilla minor team and mentors from 1985

The celebrations back in 1985 lasted for over a week in Sliabh Luachra after they had two points to spare over a fancies South Kerry district board side which had a young player by the name of Maurice Fitzgerald in their line-up.

The final score in a very cagey encounter was 1-6 to 0-7 in Gneeveguilla’s favour and the all-important goal was notched by impressive midfielder Mike Finnegan 12 minutes from the close at a stage in the game when the sides were locked together at 0-6 each.

Reports from that day in 1995 suggest that Gneeveguila’s biggest asset was their strength with Brendan Cremin, Gerald Looney, Mike Finnegan, Aeneas Looney, James Brosnan, Tadhg O’Connor and Sean Óg O’Leary excelling.

The match report from 36 years ago

Gneeveguilla scorers: M Finnegan 1-0; T O’Connor 0-3 (0-1 free); S Óg O’Leary 0-2, J Cronin 0-1.

South Kerry scorers: M Fitzgerald 0-3 (frees), P Murphy 0-2, R O’Dwyer 0-1, E Falvey 0-1.

Gneeveguilla: B Ashe, A Looney, B Cremin, D O’Leary, D Kelliher,  J Brosnan, O O’Leary, G Looney, M Finnegan, P Cremin, S O’Leary, J Cronin T O’Connor, B Martin, P O’Leary.

Subs: J McCarthy for Martin; D Collins for P O’Leary.

South Kerry: K Moran, R O’Dwyer, L Burns, D Clifford, C Egan, M O’Connell, PJ Casey, F O’Sullivan, P Murphy, M O’Dwyer, T Walsh, M Fitzgerald, E Falvey, F Hussey, P O’Sullivan.

Subs: D O’Sullivan for P O’Sullivan, K O’Dwyer for D O’Sullivan, P O’Dwyer for Falvey.

Referee: Maurice O’Sullivan (Ballyheigue).