WHILE we like to think that county finals are the be-all and the end-all, in reality they fit in around real life.
So it was that Castletownbere’s David Kelly, who will keep goal when the club take on Russell Rovers in the county JBFC final at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday evening (5.45pm) was out fishing on the SS Sea Spray when he spoke to The Southern Star earlier this week.
Kelly is part of a Castletown side which mixes great experience with the tenderest youth. Having been a forward in his early days, he cites a childhood memory in laying the foundation for his move back the field.
‘I started playing with the intermediates in 1992 or 93 when I was 17 or 18 and played in the forwards mainly,’ he says.
‘One of my greatest memories with the club was as a 12-year-old supporter in 1986 standing on the hill in Macroom, watching our goalkeeper Davy ‘Sarge’ O’Driscoll do a Stephen Cluxton for us and sail over a 45 to win the county for Town against Kilshannig. That’s when I thought, “I want a piece of that!”
‘The switch to goal came when Pádraig Crowley retired after many sterling years of service around the mid-2000s. I have to say I learned an awful lot from Pádraig and also James Power, who I was understudy to for my later intermediate years. We always had a good old battle and regardless of who was there, the other one of us always gave 100 percent support but ultimately I’ll have to admit he was the better of the two of us.’
This is the Town’s first time reaching a junior final and Kelly cites a fresh approach – which began with him stepping down as manager!
‘I had taken charge of the team the last two years and in November of last year I decide to step down as I thought we needed a new direction,’ he says.
‘I found both managing and playing at the same time difficult, so in fairness to the lads that have taken over it’s been like a breath of fresh air to the whole set-up. Michael Murphy, Jimmy Murphy, Andrew O’Sullivan and Noel Harrington have stepped up to the plate and with that knowledge on the sideline they have guided the ship well for us.
‘The blend of youth and experience throughout the squad has also helped us along the way. At the start of the year, we lost a Beara league final to Adrigole in Glengarriff and I think the young lads came of age that day and in fairness to them they have progressed in confidence with every game since.
‘From a goalkeeper’s position on the field, you can analyse lads a little bit more and I have to say all of the squad have come on in leaps and bounds since that defeat.
‘Of this panel, there are nine, I think, that were on the panel of the 2012 intermediate team but we are under no illusions going up to Páirc Uí Rinn next Saturday, we need to be on our game and play as a unit to be in with any chance as Russell Rovers are going well all season in a few grades.
‘Whatever the result on Saturday, it’s been a massive boost for our club to be playing championship football into November and hopefully we can inspire the younger club members, like I was back in Macroom all those years ago.’