BY GER McCARTHY
HAVE you heard the one about the West Cork man playing for Kerry in this year’s Leinster hurling championship who’s also a handy dancer and about to take the field against his native county?
Former Dohenys club stalwart Michael Milner is living in Killarney with the past six years having been stationed there as a Garda since 2009.
It is two years since the Garda transferred from the West Cork club to one of the giants of Kerry GAA, Dr Crokes, and subsequently made his inter-county hurling debut in a Munster Senior Hurling League clash against Limerick last Sunday. He came on as a sub in the 2-23 to 0-18 round one defeat.
Things have never been more hectic, on or off the field, for a Cork-mad GAA supporter dealing with plenty of banter and trying to come to terms with the fact he will be lining out against the Rebels this weekend.
‘I got married to a Rathmore girl, Margaret, and we have a son, Ryan, so there’s been plenty of banter lately and accusations that I’m now officially a half-Kerryman,’ Milner commented to The Southern Star.
‘Obviously, as a born and bred Rebel and having been through every high and low both representing and supporting my home county, this weekend’s Munster League game against Cork (in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney on Sunday) will be a bit strange.
‘I’ve been up to Dublin many times supporting Cork including the last few All-Ireland finals as my first cousin Daniel Kearney was involved.
‘It will be strange togging out against them (Cork) as it is only ten years since I represented the county in the Munster U21 football final and came off the bench to replace Paul Kerrigan.
‘There’s no doubt it is going to feel a little weird playing in the green and gold and facing that famous red jersey but the chance to play inter-county hurling was too good an opportunity to turn down, especially at my age and I intend to give it absolutely everything.’
Milner’s time at Dr Crokes has seen the experienced dual player force his way into the senior footballer’s starting line-up and make a valuable contribution.
Peadar Healy was team trainer for Crokes last year and Milner still thinks very highly of Cork’s new manager.
‘Peadar’s a great coach and did some superb work with us,’ said Milner.
‘It was just unfortunate that it didn’t turn out to be our year after Rathmore beat us in the quarter-finals. I’ve every confidence Peadar will do an excellent job with Cork this coming year.’
Leaving Dohenys, joining Dr Crokes and eventually togging out for the Kerry senior hurlers all happened within a whirlwind two-year period, something Milner still has trouble taking in.
‘I knew Dr Crokes had a hurling team before I moved down but wasn’t sure if initially I’d get involved with them,’ commented the former Cork U21.
‘I decided to give hurling a go and things took off fairly quickly. We reached the intermediate county final only to lose to Kilmoyley. The club was nominated to represent Kerry in the Munster junior hurling championship where we played Limerick champions Dromcollogher-Broadford.
‘I got a call from the new Kerry senior hurling manager, Ciarán Carey, shortly after, asking if I would be interested in getting involved with the Kerry senior hurlers. I didn’t have to think twice.
‘The Kerry senior hurling setup really is ultra-professional. Everything is geared towards improving Kerry hurling both on and off the field and I think the county is capable of making great progress under Ciarán Carey this year.’
Not content with representing Kerry in senior hurling, Michael Milner added another string to his bow by winning a Strictly Come Dancing fundraising competition in 2015.
‘The dancing skills came from being a Garda and having to move fast on my feet in certain troublesome situations!’ said Milner.
New Kerry senior and Cork native Michael Milner will have a unique opportunity to put his dancing feet to good use at Fitzgerald Stadium this Sunday against his native Cork and help the Kingdom hurlers continue their upward curve under Ciarán Carey.