Just a fortnight ago we were celebrating the 90th anniversary of our first SF Co. Championship win in 1928. Today we celebrate the 45th anniversary of another milestone victory. Nineteen twenty eight began the first Golden Era of the Club. That lasted until 1936 by which time we had achieved an unprecedented level of success – winning five SF titles (1928, 1930, 1931, 1932 and 1936) and three SH titles (1928, 1929 and 1931). Then came that 37 year ‘Barren’ period which finally came to an end on that October summer-like Sunday (21st) in 1973 when a group of outstanding footballers, many of whom who had been together since they were young juveniles in the early 1960s, secured our 6th Co. SF Championship crown.
One man who is widely acknowledged as sowing the seeds of that success in the early 60s was Mícheál Hayes. In his Chapter (aptly named – ‘Sowing the Seeds of Success (1960-1972) – Mol an Óige’) on Page 73 of our Centenary Book Mícheál names four other Rockies of renown as having contributed enormously to that success – Paddy Drummond, Joe Mulchinock, Jack Parker and James Hobbert.
In that 1973 campaign we had run-away wins in round 1 (against John Mitchels 1-13 to 0-8), in the quarter final (against Dr. Crokes 3-18 to 0-6) and in the semi final (against Kenmare District 0-13 to 0-6) to set up a final tie against a West Kerry combination named Na hAghasaigh at that time. Managed by the legendry Limerick Hurler, Jackie Power and captained by the inspirational Billy Curtin it was Jackie’s son Ger (later to go on, with his colleague Mikey Sheehy, to win a record 8 All Ireland SF medals) whose 12th minute goal set us on the road to victory. Eight minutes later the victory was almost sealed when another man with outstanding Rock credentials, Tommy Bracker O’Regan, got through for our second goal. At the break we led by 2-3 to 0-2.
The West Kerry boys gave their best in the second half, reducing our lead to four points at one stage when a certain Páidí Ó Sé scored their only goal, but we weathered the storm and had five points to spare at the end (2-8 to 1-6).
Team: Teddy Brick, Garry Scollard, Mike McCarthy, John Barry, Noel Kelter, Tony O’Keeffe, Ger O’Keeffe, John O’Keeffe, Timmy Sheehan, Mikey Sheehy (0-7), Ger Power (1-0), Tommy Kennington, Billy Curtin (Capt), Joe Joe Barrett (0-1), Tommy Bracker O’Regan (1-0).
Sub used: Fergus Dillon.
Rest of Panel: Joe Parker, Rory McSweeney, Ger MacNamara, Tommy King, Fintan Lawlor, Terry McSweeney, Aidan O’Conner, Paudie McCarthy.
Management: Jackie Power, Paddy Scanlan, Timmy McMahon.
And so began not alone the Second Golden Era of our Club but also the Second Golden Era of Kerry SF. During our First Golden Era (1928-1936) Kerry won the first of their four-in-a-row All Ireland SF titles (1929-32) with a host of Rock players on the team (sixteen). It was even better for Kerry during our Second Golden Era (1973-1986). Not alone did they win a second four-in-a-row titles (1978-1981) but they went on to add three-in-a-row (1984-1986) as well with another host of Rock players on those teams also (five).
1973 team for more photographs & memories see Club Centenary book pg 108 (Copies on sale from Commane’s Book Shop Rock St or online on club website).
In 2010 – the 1973 team held a reunion in the club – here’s a few snaps from the evening: