BY DENIS HURLEY
LEICESTER City chief executive Susan Whelan will be in for a royal reception when she arrives in Baltimore this summer.
The Dublin native regularly holidays locally and in December made the acquaintance of the one of the Foxes’ loyal band of West Cork fans, Kieron Walsh of the Algiers Inn in Baltimore. He takes up the story of one incidence in what has been a special season for the new Premier League champions.
‘I’d go over a minimum of three or four times every season,’ he says.
‘I was at the Chelsea game just before Christmas – Jose Mourinho’s last match – and when we were coming out afterwards my friend pointed out Susan Whelan.
‘I introduced myself and when she heard that I own the Algiers Bar, she said she knew it and all the other pubs in Baltimore as her family come here sailing in the summer.
‘We’ll have a big welcome for her this summer and we’re hoping that she might arrange a box for a European game.’
Though he was born in Ireland, Kieron spent his formative years in the British midlands.
‘I was raised in Leicester and then we moved back here when my parents bought the Eldon Hotel in 1975,’ he says.
‘There were actually a few Leicester fans around at the time as they’d have been reasonably successful in the 1960s. I used to play with Skibbereen Dynamos and one of the older lads involved was a Leicester fan.’
Ms Whelan wasn’t the only Leicester celebrity that Kieron encountered on his travels either, with manager Claudio Ranieri also making his acquaintance.
‘I was there for the West Brom and Norwich games at the end of February and start of March and there was a real feeling then that they could do it,’ he says.
‘I bumped into my namesake, Steve Walsh, the former captain, and he seemed very confident. I also met Mr Ranieri the day of the West Brom game – it was a night match – I was loading something into the car on a side-street and I saw this guy who looked like my friend Hennie – I was thinking, “What the f**k is Hennie doing here?!”
‘When I realised who it was, I shook his hand and he said he had been looking at the number plate, thinking it might have been Italian! I wished him the best of luck and he said he had to go off to the fish market to get dinner for his wife.’
Schull native Aidan Molloy has no real link to the club other than the fact his father attended a game there in the late 60s. While his brother was supporting Manchester United, Aidan plumped for Leicester.
‘It’s strange,’ he says, ‘my Dad wasn’t really a soccer fan but if you asked him who he supported he’d say Leicester. That got me intrigued and Martin O’Neill was in charge at that time, there were some good individual players like Muzzy Izzet and Emile Heskey too.
‘When they beat Manchester City, I knew then there was a real chance, that game could have been 5-1, they were so dominant. Seeing Leicester in the Champions League next season will be incredible.’
Jimmy Deasy and his son Seán are two other Rebel Foxes who are living the dream after Tottenham Hotspur’s draw with Chelsea on Monday night ensured that the trophy was the Leicester’s.
Jimmy was born in Leicester but is of West Cork stock – his mother and Kieron’s mother knew each other from the Irish club in Leicester – and he managed to snare Seán at a young age.
‘I came over in 1980, I tired to convert everyone but I managed to get Seán when he was a baby. He was a bit of a Chelsea fan at first but I brought him over to games when he was young.’
He was following a tradition, having had plenty of exposure from a young age.
‘My father is from Union Hall and my mum is from between Tragumna and Castletownshend, she used to work in the hotel where away teams stayed when they played Leicester at Filbert St.
‘She brought me to my first game against Manchester City in 1967 and it grew from there. I thought all season that the bigger clubs would buck up but it never happened.
‘Normally, we’re happy with winning one big game, like the 5-3 against Manchester United in 2014. My wife is kicking me though, when Leicester were in the Championship I used to put a tenner on them but I didn’t bother when they were in the Premier League. If I had, I wouldn’t be working for the Council now!’
Leicester will be presented with the trophy after the game against Everton on Saturday evening and it’ll be a double-celebration in the Deasy household.
‘Seán’s 21 on Thursday,’ Jimmy explains, ‘so the party is on Saturday. It’ll be lovely to combine the two, I’d say he’s forgiven me for dragging him to those games in League 1 now!’