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Eoin Liston: 'We have a lot of good memories'


By Cian O’Connell

Eoin 'Bomber' Liston proudly wore the green and gold jersey during a glorious, silverware laden era for Kerry.

The first campaign, though, spent as an inter-county footballer proved to be the most satisfying. Ending an All Ireland final with a 3-2 haul in a remarkable 5-11 to 0-9 Kerry win over Dublin meant that Liston’s name will always be linked with 1978.

It wasn’t just because of the goalscoring exploits at Croke Park on September 24 that it lingers in Liston’s mind.

Other little details mattered deeply, especially the fact that the totemic Denis ‘Ogie’ Moran capatined Kerry to success. “Yeah, '78 sticks out for me, number one my best friend was captain and I had won my first All Ireland medal which I was trying to do,” Liston recalls. “Most people will always remember their first All Ireland win.”

That Moran hoisted the Sam Maguire put the exclamation mark on a splendid stint for Liston, who acknowledges that several of the 1975 All Ireland winning crop had assisted him significantly.

“They were a great help, Ogie had been there, he was my club mate, he was there since '75,” Liston remarks.

Former Kerry footballer Eoin 'Bomber' Liston.
Former Kerry footballer Eoin 'Bomber' Liston.

“We travelled over in the car with Tim Kennelly and Jimmy Deenihan. So we have a lot of good memories. You would be marking them in club matches, but then playing with them. It was great - just great memories.

“You'd be very nervous, but all you wanted to do was to win an All Ireland medal. That is what we were fighting for that day. I was fighting to win my first All Ireland medal, to win one of those was a fierce motivation.”

Reflection back 41 years later Liston remains adamant that Mikey Sheehy’s audacious goal from a free kick was the key moment.

“I think Mikey's goal, the chip over Paddy Cullen did major damage,” Liston vividly recalls. “In the second half we had a huge psychological advantage going out against them because we hadn't played. We had gone in ahead after playing very poorly. That is what I remember from it.”

Entering that All Ireland decider, though, Liston felt that Kerry were in a good position to stop a decorated Dublin outfit earning a third national title on the spin.

“I knew from training that we had a very good, but I had never come up against Dublin,” Liston says. “I remember thinking if they could beat this team I had been training with, I just felt that they must be right good.

The Kerry team before the 1978 All Ireland SFC Final at Croke Park.
The Kerry team before the 1978 All Ireland SFC Final at Croke Park.

“I had been marking John O'Keeffe, you had Jimmy Deenihan, Paudie Lynch. I knew we had a good team, but they had a good team.

“They had three All Irelands won at that stage. So this was their fifth All Ireland final in a row. We were nervous, we had a bad enough start, but things eventually went right. The Gods looked down on us, we just got a few breaks, and then the whole turned.”

For Liston it also represented a dramatic rise to prominence. “I had trained in 1977 with Kerry - that summer,” Liston adds.

“We won the County Championship and I played League with Kerry at the end of 1977. We also won the All Ireland Under 21, then I played in the League before the Championship in 1978.

“I was supposed to play against Waterford in the first round, but we had a match the night before with the club and I twisted my ankle. My first Championship match was the Munster Final against Cork down in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.”

Two months later at GAA headquarters Liston secured a Celtic Cross, scoring a memorable hat-trick in the process. The graft and toil, Mick O’Dwyer’s wire-to-wire running, was rewarded on the grand stage.

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