Young islander Munster Final preview by Deirdre Lyne – Support from history and heart on Valentia Island.
All roads lead to Knockaderry on Sunday for the Munster Junior B football final where the Young Islanders of Kerry take on Kildimo Pallaskenry of Limerick.
Valentia formed in 1905 have coveted their fair share of County Finals but never have they graced the playing fields of a Munster final until this weekend. Unlike Skellig Rangers, St Marys or St Michaels Foilmore in recent years who have won the County Junior & Intermediate finals and gone on to win All Irelands finals in Croke Park, Valentia were never afforded these opportunities as Croke Park was yet to be opened up to the clubs. The club has won the intermediate, junior and Novice County Championship but strangely it was the Novice Shield win that brought them to this glorious day.
It’s no state secret that the club has not been the most successful in recent years, with a 9 year famine for the South Kerry Championship alone. But these are the times we find ourselves in. Our club was decimated when the dreaded recession hit the country and players chose warmer climates to live. No one can begrudge them. Finding work was difficult and the once booming building trade afforded a lot of those players ample employment and opportunities in Valentia. Some of the lucky ones stayed home and the youth blossomed onto the senior panel and Valentia are once again building.
Back in the latter stages of 2014 players such as Mike Moriarty, Senan Lynch & Paul Curtin played in the County Novice Shield final in KiIllorglin. They entered the field that day as boys, but emerged as men. I’d swear they were walking a foot taller after winning the County Final. This was their first taste of success at senior level and they were hungry. There are only a few on the team that have tasted success.
On Sunday, these players that have worked so tirelessly over the years to keep the club alive are about to write themselves into the history books as the first Valentia team to play in a Munster Final. To win would be a fitting tribute to the men like Ger Bobby O’Shea, John Daly, John Shanahan and Colm Casey to name just a few. To the Captain Brendan O’Sullivan, Mark Lynch who travels from Waterford for training and matches to the students that manage to fit their studies in as well, we salute you.
There have been tough times, there have been happy times but probably more recently there has been a very sad time, our mid fielder, our trainer, our selector, the man that every player aspires to be like lost his battle with Cancer in October of last year. Paul Curran the broad shouldered, handsome, gentle giant of a man will be shining down on the team on Sunday and I’ve no doubt if he could, he’d drive it over the bar.
To the panel of 22 players and management of Linus Burke & Fionan Murphy we wish you every success, we thank you for sticking by the club in hard times and good times and we look forward as a community to standing beside each of you in Knockaderry on Sunday.
As the saying goes: Last one off the Island turn off the lights!