My Club: David Moran - Kerins O'Rahilly's
My Club: David Moran - Kerins O'Rahilly's
By Arthur Sullivan
In this week's My Club feature, we talk to Kerry midfielder David Moran about his club Kerins O'Rahillys.
One of the grand old clubs of Kerry GAA, Kerins O'Rahillys are based in the town of Tralee and are one of three clubs within the town, alongside Austin Stacks and John Mitchells.
Like Austin Stacks and John Mitchells, the club is named after prominent Irish republicans. In the case of Kerins O'Rahillys, they are named after two men. Michael Joseph O'Rahilly - known as 'The O'Rahilly' - was killed during the 1916 Rising, while Charlie Kerins was a well known Irish republican who played for the club in the 1930s.
Located in the west of the town in Ballyrickard, Kerins O'Rahillys are based on Strand Street, also known as Strand Road. The club have won six Kerry senior football titles, in 1933, 1939, 1953, 1954, 1957 and most recently, in 2002. Their most recent final appearance was in 2008, when they lost to Mid Kerry after a replay.
A large club with a considerable pick within the town, Kerins O'Rahillys have produced several prominent Kerry footballers over the last century. Probably their most famous former player is GAA Team of the Millennium goalkeeper Dan O'Keeffe, who won seven All-Ireland senior medals with Kerry between 1931 and 1946.
The late John Dowling captained Kerry to the 1955 All-Ireland title, while Seán Walsh, father of Tommy, won seven All-Ireland senior medals with the great Kerry team of the 1970s and 1980s, playing at midfield in the 1978-81 four-in-a-row team, and at full-back on the 1984-86 three-in-a-row team.
There have been several other Kerry All-Ireland winners from Kerins O'Rahillys over the years, such as Mike Quirke (2009) and Barry O'Shea (1997), while David Moran, Tommy Walsh and Barry John Keane have flown the flag for the club in recent seasons.
Moran and Walsh, who came up together in the club's underage system on a team which won every major honour at their age group, both won All-Irelands with Kerry in 2009 while Moran and Barry John Keane were on Kerry's 2014 All-Ireland winning team, with Walsh returning from a spell in the AFL that winter.
All three are on the Kerry panel for 2016.
For more about Kerins O'Rahillys, visit their official website here
Kerins O'Rahillys' location in Tralee
Q: What's the GAA scene like in Tralee?
A: We're right in the middle of the town, on Strand Road. There are three main clubs in the town - John Mitchells, Austin Stacks and Kerins O'Rahillys and then there's Na Gaeil there just outside the town, they play in the rural section. I've been at Kerins O'Rahillys since I could walk. The great John Dowling was heavily involved in recruiting us, because we lived so close, along with the Walshs and the Listons! So they used to organise a bus to come around and bring us all together.
Q: Your father Denis actually comes from a different club originally though?
A: Yes, he's from Ballybunion. He was never involved with Kerins O'Rahillys as a player. He did train us though and we lived only a half a mile from the Strand Road field, and a half an hour from Ballybunion so it was never an issue for anyone that we would play for Kerins when we were young. Having said that, I have a lot of fond memories from summer camps out in Ballybunion and things like that but I've been a Strand Road man from day one. I have great memories with the club. They have been very supportive given what I went through with injuries, they were tough times and they were always very supportive. I'll always be grateful for that.
Q: Do you have any siblings involved with the club?
A: My brother Brian played with Kerry and he was a very strong player for our club up until a couple of years ago. He's older than me so he's not playing at the moment but he was a big player for us.
Q: Has your father's expertise been called upon?
A: It has! He was manager there when we got to the Munster club championship final against Kilmurry-Ibrickane after the county final defeat a few years ago. He also would have done a good bit of coaching underage at the club along with Tommy's father. It would possibly have been easier for me at the time not having him involved but when you get older and more mature it gets a lot easier.
David Moran and Tommy Walsh, long time club and county teammates
Q: Is your clubmate Tommy Walsh the exact same age group as you?
A: Yeah, we were on the same Féile team, exact same age. I have known Tommy as long as I can remember, given that our fathers were playing together as well. He lives half a mile away from me, just on the other side of the field. We are the same age group within the club, the same school and so on.
Q: Did you both play in midfield growing up?
A: Actually, Tommy was always in at full forward, certainly with the club. I was always midfield. But football or not, we'd be best friends pretty much all our lives. Tommy has a brother two years younger than me and I have a brother two years older than me so the four of us would be very tight.
Q: You must have been a hard side to beat underage then?
A: We were. We lost the Féile above in Carlow, I think that was the only age group we didn't win in Kerry. We won all the county championships when our time came, all the way up to minor. We had a few more guys beyond me and Tommy as well, Danny Sullivan who captained the Kerry minors in 2008, Barry John Keane as well. So we had a pretty strong team.
Q: It must have been a big deal for you and Kerins O'Rahillys when Tommy came back from the AFL?
A: Apart from me on a personal level, it was huge for the club. It gave everyone a lift, a lift that we really needed because the club had two or three years where we weren't achieving things on the field as we would have liked. Tommy coming back in was a huge lift for everyone. All the guys from our age group at the club had all played with him for years and years so it was brilliant for everyone to have him back.
Kerry, 1980. Seán Walsh is on the extreme right in the back row, with Denis Moran right in front
Q: How was your Kerry Senior Football Championship campaign in 2015?
A: We had a rusty start against Rathmore but we got to the quarter-finals in the end although we conceded four goals to Legion and you're never going to win a game when they happens. We only lost by three points to Legion in the end but still. We beat East Kerry and we beat Milltown to get that far so it was an improvement on the year before. It still wasn't as far as we would have liked. It's disappointing but hopefully there's enough done to build on.
Q: It's been quite a while since Kerins O'Rahillys won the Kerry title...
A: Yeah, in 2008 we lost after a replay to Mid Kerry. We were two points up but lost out to a penalty in the last minute. That was obviously very disappointing. Then back to the last title we won in 2002, I was only 14 so I was only the water boy. Bomber Liston was manager and I was the water boy! They were great times for the club and memories like that drive you on, no doubt. When you're 14 and you see that, it pushes you. There were a lot of fellas who played with Kerry on that team too, Barry O'Shea, Mike Quirke, Declan Quill, Ronan O'Shea. All those guys inspire you to make senior with your club and to try and make the Kerry team as well.
Q: With Stacks, your biggest rivals, having won the Kerry and Munster titles in 2014, that must seriously drive you on?
A: Of course. But although we obviously would have preferred to have won it ourselves, it was good to see them do it and have football coming back strongly in Tralee. With Killarney so strong in the last few years with Crokes and Legion, it's great to have the Tralee teams doing well so the kids of the town see that and want to have it for themselves and to play with Kerry. So we're trying to wrestle the power back from Killarney.
Q: Would your club be classed as a 'townie' team and what does that classification mean to you?
A: I suppose we would from outside the town anyway! I suppose we would. As for exactly what it means, I don't know - I suppose there'd be a few knacky corner forwards nipping around or something like that. But I'm very proud of it all, I wouldn't change it for the world.
Q: What facilities do the club have?
A: At Strand Road, there's our main field, and then the clubhouse. Then about 300 yards up the road we have another senior field and two juvenile fields as well. Then there's a porta-cabin there for changing. In terms of gym facilities, there was a great community project there that came together probably about four or five years ago when times were hard. The guys with trades all came together and built it themselves. The blocklayers laid the blocks in the gym, the carpenters did the roof and so on, and all the club had to pay for was the raw materials. All the labour was free. It was a great community project and it shows what can be done when people put their mind to it.
Q: Who are some of the Kerins O'Rahillys club legends?
A: John Dowling is a big one - he captained Kerry to All-Irelands in the 1950s. Then there's Seánie Walsh, Tommy's father. Then there's Dan O'Keeffe as well, the goalkeeper from the Team of the Millennium. In more recent years, we had Barry O'Shea who was full-back on the 1997 Kerry team. There's Morgan O'Shea also from 1997, then after that we had Declan Quill, Mike Quirke, they come to mind straight away. There's plenty of others as well but I suppose the household names are the ones who won the All-Irelands with Kerry.
David Moran will be an ambassador Setanta's GAA coverage this season. Setanta Sports will bring 17 exclusively live games to viewers across Ireland in 2016 , starting with Dublin v Kerry at Croke Park on Setanta Ireland on January 30 at 7pm.