CLUB CONVENTION: At our Club AGM last Sunday morning Billy Ryle was elected Club Chairman for the coming year replacing Mairéad Fernane who stepped down after a very successful year in the job. And how historic the occasion as Mairéad was stepping down almost 100 years to the day when her Uncle, Dan O’Sullivan (the Club’s first Chairman 1917-1919) was stepping down after guiding the Club during the first three years of its existence. Billy, of course, was one of the main authors of our Centenary book and in his young days he served as Club Secretary in 1972, 1974 and 1975 when the late Frank King was in the Chair.
In his comprehensive address he thanked everyone for electing him as Chairman for 2020 and to follow in the footsteps of such giants of the past, beginning with Big Dan O Sullivan in 1917 and followed by 29 distinguished Chairpersons, the last four being Ger Reidy, Aidan O’Connor, Liam Lynch and currently, Mairéad Fernane, a niece and goddaughter of Big Dan. He said he will put time and effort into the position and his only agenda will be to do what’s best for The Rock. He said for over 50yrs, we were homeless and nomadic. In 1971, Chairman Frank King and his Club Committee purchased our ‘Field of Dreams’ in Connolly Park. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to that Committee and the subsequent committees which developed the excellent facilities we now enjoy. We must never take for granted what we now have. He said now more than ever, we need members to step up to the plate to take on the various roles required to run an ambitious GAA Club. The Rock is famous on the field of play but it’s also admired as a Club with sound structures, high standards, good organisation and willing workers.
As incoming Chairman, he said he was adopting, with a slight modification, the motto of President John F Kennedy from his 1961 inauguration speech:‘Ask not what your Club can do for you – ask what you can do for your Club’. He said he was asking all our members, to give everything to your Club. Ask for nothing in return other than the satisfaction of being a valued member of one of the greatest GAA clubs in Ireland. He said he is requesting supporters of The Rock, who don’t pay the annual membership fee to dig deep and pay up for 2020. The more income the Club generates, the better the service we can provide for our general membership, especially our young male and female members. Active and Healthy involvement in Gaelic games from an early age is an ideal preparation for life. Our Juvenile Club under Chairman Tim McMahon and his dedicated team provides one of the finest under-age structures in the country. Our Ladies Club, chaired by Noreen Power, continues to go from strength to strength. Your membership fee will help to sustain that wonderful work.
He said he would like to thank the members of the 2019 Executive Committee for their outstanding work during the year and is extremely grateful to those who are staying on in 2020. He said they and all who serve on subcommittees, prepare our teams, look after our pitches, raise funds and who help out in any way are the beating heart of the Club. Addressing the outgoing Chairperson he said ‘Mairead, you have earned your place alongside ‘Big Dan’ in the glorious history of The Rock Club. You have the distinction of being the first female Chairperson of our Club. That honour is yours forever. You have been an outstanding Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson of Austin Stacks. Mairéad, in your courteous and gracious style, you have done The Rock some service’.
Finally, he said he would like to extend season greetings to Rockies at home and abroad, cordially inviting Rock people, who are living away from home to be part of our Club in 2020. Keep in touch through our Club web site, the print media and social media. Better still, become a member of the Club for 2020. Once a Rockie, always a Rock. Other newcomers to the Senior Committee for 2020 include Eamon O’Reilly who was elected Vice Chairman and Ricky Moloney who takes up the position as Assistant Secretary.
SENIOR FOOTBALL: Austin Stacks 1-10; Rathmore 1-10 (Stacks win 4-3 on penalties).
The famous phrase in the Charles Dickens Novel ‘A Tale of Two Cities (1859)’ comes to mind – it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The best of times was the win and the manner of the win. The worst of times was the dreadful weather we encountered – the worst at any game this year. Credit to both teams who were part of such an entertaining game in such terrible conditions, and to the gallant band of supporters from both Clubs who braved the cold, the rain and hail and the near gale force wind at times.
We got off to the perfect start. Coming up to two minutes of play a long diagonal ball by Dylan Casey was won by Kieraan Donaghy who found Fiachna Mangan for a tap-in goal. Just over a minute later it was Dylan himself who had the game’s first point after good work by Ronan Shanahan, Joseph O’Connor and Gearóid Fitzgerald. By the 5th minute both sides had a point each – ours converted by Michael O’Gara with our two corner backs Colin Griffin and Jack O’Shea involved in the build-up. After Rathmore registered their second point in the 11th minute from a free we then added two more in the 15th and 19th minutes, the first a long-ranged effort from Joseph O’Connor and the second from a well-taken free by Michael O’Donnell. Another Rathmore free a minute later yielded their third point of the game and this was followed by another Michael O’Donnell point from play in the 22nd minute. Then two minutes later Colin Griffin made a terrific run up field where he was eventually fouled and Michael O’Donnell again converted the resultant free.
Then Rathmore gave themselves a live-line when they goaled in the 26th minute but we finished the half the stronger with two late points, both from play by Seán Quilter and Michael O’Donnell to give us a five points lead at the break (1-8 to 1-3). Rathmore now had the elements in their favour during the second half and they made full use of them, scoring four unanswered points during the third quarter, to whittle our lead down to the bare minimum (1-8 to 1-7). What turned out to be our only score of this half came in the 46th minute – a point from play by Jack O’Shea. In the closing quarter the home side added two more points to level matters for the first time (1-9 each) and send the game to extra time.
The first half of extra time saw both sides score a point each – ours coming from another Michael O’Donnell one from play and during the second half of extra time no side could add anymore scores and with a proposal from the Co. Board official present and the agreement of both Clubs the game went down in history to be the first one decided in the county by a penalty shoot-out.
With both sides missing a penalty each after the first four takes (our three scorers were Darragh O’Brien, Michael O’Gara and Seán Quilter) it then came down to the wire. Rathmore missed their 5th and with the score still at 3-3 up steps the one and only Kieran Donaghy and he sent his shot to the keeper’s right to win a famous and historic victory to the delight of all Rockies.
The winning trophy was presented to team captain Ronan Shanahan who thanked everyone involved in this win and in our other victories during year and Michael O’Donnell was deservedly presented with the Man of the Match Award for his performance on the day.
The win puts us back on top of the Roll of Honours again, with eleven titles, after sharing it with Dr. Crokes for the past year. Sixteen Clubs in total have won Division 1 of the Co. League and only four Clubs have won five or more titles. The other two Clubs (as well as ourselves and Crokes ) are Laune Rangers with nine wins and Kerins O’Rahillys with 5. Two Clubs have won two titles each (Desmonds and Milltown) and then ten other Clubs have won one title each.
One other stat which deserves mention – during the whole game which, between normal time, additional time and extra time, lasted just over 91 minutes, we had no wide. And that certainly must be a record as well.
Team: Darragh O’Brien, Colin Griffin, Dylan Casey (0-1), Jack O’Shea (0-1), Ciarán O’Reilly, Ronan Shanahan (Capt), Shane Walsh, Joseph O’Connor (0-1), David Fitzmaurice, Michael O’Gara (0-1), Fiachna Mangan (1-0), Michael O’Donnell (0-5 – two frees), Seán Quilter (0-1), Kieran Donaghy, Gearoid Fitzgerald.
Subs used: Shane O’Callaghan (37m), Darragh O’Brien (41m), John Dennis (45m), Ciarán O’Connell (5m ET).
Winning four out of the five competitions we contested at District and County level was no mean achievement even if the main event eluded us, and the eventual winners of that main event – the Co. Championship (East Kerry) were the team that knocked us out of that competition. So for the record we won the Town League and Championship together with the Club Championship and now the Co. League. Well done to the 42 players who lined out at one time and another during the 25 competitive games that were played during the season – a playing season which spanned a total of 47 weeks (27th January to 15th December). Thanks also to Team Manager, Wayne Quillinan and his gallant band of colleagues – Eoin Colgan, Jonathan Conway, John O’Sullivan, Tommy Naughton, Damien Ryall, Fionan Hallinan and Paudie McQuinn.
SPECIAL THANKS: also to the many others whose background work can go un-noticed at times – and these include Noel O’Connell and John Breen who will always have the playing facilities in tip-top shape, to Matthew and Aisling Browne who operate the scoreboard, to Eddie Barrett for his work on match days, to Jim Naughton, Nial Shanahan, Bernie Mannix and Chairperson Mairéad who sell Lotto Tickets on match days and collect at the gate as well and to Elma and Ciara Nix for their brilliant work in making our Website and Twitter Account one of the best in the business. And look again (they are on our Website) at the quality of Adrienne McLoughlin’s photography – weather or no weather Adrienne’s work is a master class.
BIRTHDAY GREETINGS: One of the great servants of the Club down the years, Seán Murphy, celebrated his 98th birthday last Saturday (16th Dec). Happy birthday Seán from everyone in the Club and further afield.
GAA NATIONAL CLUB DRAW: Austin Stacks GAA has signed up to participate in the GAA’s National Club Draw for 2020.
The purpose of the GAA National Club Draw is to assist clubs in their drive to raise much needed funds with Croke Park covering the cost of some fantastic prizes including a new Renault Clio 4 Expression Car, Travel Voucher worth €2,000, All Ireland Hurling & Football packages, shopping vouchers etc etc . The tickets are €10 each with the closing date to enter February 16th, 2020. The beauty of the draw for us is that Austin Stacks Club retains the proceeds from all tickets sold by the Club.
Club Officer, Bernie Mannix, is already busy distributing ticket books (5 tickets per seller) at moment. She is the contact person for anyone else prepared to sell tickets for us – contact 086 0767415.
“If you usually include a few lotto scratch cards as part of your Christmas presents can we suggest that this year you purchase ‘Stacks Raffle’ Tickets to pop in the cards instead”.
We would be really grateful if club supporters would get behind this one so that we can commence 2020 on a good financial footing.
PITCH SIGNAGE: A new sign has been erected at Austin Stacks GAA grounds at Connolly Park promoting local mental health services. The sign gives the contact details of Pieta House and Samaritans and encourages anyone feeling worried or upset to get in touch with them.
At the launch Club Chairperson Mairead Fernane said clubs need to help their members, players and supporters by making them aware of this services that are available to them when they are feeling worried, depressed or suicidal. She said we must help our young people access the services available to them and I hope this sign will encourage them to seek help if they need it. With a membership of over 400 adults and 300 juveniles and large numbers of players and supporters from other clubs passing through the club grounds, it is hoped they will see the message. Jan Rice of the Samaritans in Tralee welcomed the publicity and thanked Austin Stacks for raising the profile of the Samaritans.
CLUBHOUSE: As always the Clubhouse is available for all types of Parties and Functions. Enquiries about Club Bookings should be made by contacting Harry Hynes at 087 2467286.
Bar opening hours are as follows: 7pm to 12.30am on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays, and 12 noon to 11pm on Sundays.
CARDS: The 45 Card Sessions continue in the Clubhouse on every Monday and Thursday nights, commencing at 9.30pm each night.
LOTTO: Last Night’s (16th December) Jackpot, worth €12,750, was not won. The numbers drawn were 2, 5, 25, 30.
The €20 winners were: Derry Sugrue and Donal O’Mahony, both c/o Carmel O’Neill; Denis O’Sullivan and Tom Fitzgerald, both c/o Rock Street Post Office; and Christine Laide, c/o Pa Laide. Lotto Tickets are on regular sale at the Rock Street Post Office and at the Stacks Clubhouse, as well as from our other regular outlets. A special thanks to all who continue to buy Lotto Tickets on a regular basis and to all those who sell tickets every week, with a special thanks to Carmel O’Neill for her outstanding work in this regard. And finally thanks to everyone who operates the draw each Monday night, including John Breen, Carmel O’Neill, Nial Shanahan, Bernie Mannix Anne Marie Healy and Brendan O’Regan.
The Rock Post Office have set the Tralee GAA Clubs a task where the club whose supporters make the most transactions in the Rock Post Office from now until April 2020 will win the right to exclusively sell their Club Lotto Tickets there. Each transaction is worth points so every time you use the Rock St Post Office – ask them to chalk your points up in favour of your Club Austin Stacks!
We are currently putting a promo video together encouraging members to get behind our Rock St Post office Campaign – asking members, club families to simply record themselves saying ‘I’m a Rockie’ and send the video via What’s App to 086 1053300
SYMPATHY: Sincere sympathy is offered to the families of the following who died recently – Robert Brosnan, Fountain Court and formerly Castleisland; Catherine O’Connell (Holohan), Nenagh and formerly Castlecountess; Mary Sugrue, Caherleheen and formerly Castleisland; and Julie Mary (Sheila) Healy, St. Anne’s Bungalows and formerly Barrow, Ardfert.