>Kerry v Wexford in the 1914 All-Ireland football Final

In July 1914 Wexford came to Tralee to play the All-Ireland Champions Kerry in a game in aid of the local sports field and they where given a deafening reception.

The match turned out to be a disaster for Kerry, Wexford beat them 3-5 to Kerry’s 0-2.

The Kerryman said next day.

“A team of old–age pensioners would have given a better exhibition of football.”

However, it was a different story in August when Louth came to Tralee for yet another challenge game.

The animosity built up through the previous games against Louth in 1910 where forgotten and there was a torchlight procession through the town for the County Louth Team.

The Louth players said it was the greatest nights of football they ever had.

Louth where at the time known as “The Cocks-O-The-North.” And they knew it, but Kerry beat them 2-5 to 2-1.

Next important game that year was the semi-final against a tough Tipperary team. The head line in the Kerryman read, ”Tipperary’s rough tactics prove unavailing.”

The game was played in a steady Irish Drizzle and Tipperary were the first to kick a point. But the great J.J Skinner got the equaliser and Denis Doyle ran the full half to score a stupendous goal. At half-time Kerry lead 1-1 to 0-1.

Doyle started the second –half in vibrant spirit scoring another goal and Dick Fitzgerald scored a point. Kerry had beaten Tipperary again, 2-3 to 0-2.

The next game was against the old enemy Cork in the Munster Final on the 4th of October. The game was played in Tralee and such was the significance of the game trains where laid on from Valentia Harbour, Kenmare, Castleisland, Castlegregory, Dingle, Waterford, Limerick, Cork, Youghal and Mitchelstown.

They HAD TRAINs in those days, oh for the day of trains again, trains that leave and get there on time!!

Back to the game!! As with every game against The Cork Nation it is always an unyielding game. Johnny Mahony opened the score for Kerry and that was the only score in the first-half.

Skinner scored a second point early in the second-half, followed by a tremendous point by Dick Fitzgerald. The game was very tight but Kerry won 0-5 to 0-1.

Kerry where in another All-Ireland, against Wexford again, the team who hammered them early on in the year. The date was fixed for November 1st at Jones Road Dublin and was promised to be a cliffhanger.

There were 26 trains to the game and attendance was over 15,000.

Wexford were up for it, both teams battled head to head for sixteen minutes without a score, but then Wexford struck with retribution; they had been beaten in the previous year and wanted revenge.

Shawn Kennedy the Wexford captain smashed home a brilliant goal and Doyle followed with another. Kerry weakly scraped a point by Con Clifford and the Kerry Men where down 2-0 to 01 at half-time.

During the break the captain Dick Fitzgerald roasted the rest of the Kerry team and by the time they ran out for the second half they where different Kerrymen, they where The Kingdom!!

Pat “Aero-Plane” O`Shea passed to Dick Fitzgerald and Fitz found Breen who smashed the ball into the back of the net. The Con Murphy scored a towering point.

The score now was only two points between them, however time was ticking away. A minute from the end Kerry where still one point behind, almost at the final whistle Wexford were penalised and the towering Dick Fitzgerald placed the ball between the two uprights and equalised.

The final score Kerry 1-3 to Wexford 2-0.

The headline in the papers next day was: “These Kerry crocks should stand down of their own accord to younger and better men and save the honour of the County.”

Nevertheless this did not perturb Kerry, they even brought back Maurice McCarthy out of retirement and Jack Rice got back his place, this was definitely an ageing team, but an experienced team a team of old cowboys.

What we call in Kerry The Right Stuff.

The replay was on November 9th . This game was one of the greatest games of Gaelic Football ever played, a classic, an exhibition of Gaelic Football since the inauguration of the G.A.A.

Imagine if you where there to see that game, the high ball, catch and kick, the rough and tumble, the hard play between hard tough men.

Wexford, with the backing of a strong breeze, set the early pace. A glaring sun shone into the dazzled eyes of the Kerry boys, or should I say “Old Men,” and after five minutes Wexford opened the score with a point from Kennedy.

Wexford dominated the first-half and went in for the break six points in front, Kerry failed to get a single score.

In the second half, Kerry with the breeze were struggling, then an electrifying run from Paddy Breen turn the tables with an amazing goal followed quickly by another from Johnny Mahony.

The huge Kerry crowd went wild and you could see Kerry, with the bit between their teeth, would not be beaten. Kerry started to cruise with confidence and beat a powerful Wexford team 2-3 to 0-6.

However this was the end of a tremendous Kerry team and would not see another All-Ireland for a few years from now. Wexford where also burnt out and took years to come back.

The ageing Heroes of 1914: D. Fitzgerald (Captain), P. Healy, C. Murphy, D. Doyle, P. Breen, J. Mahony, J. Skinner, D. Mullins, T. Costelloe, M. McCarthy, J. Lawler, C. Clifford, J. Rice, P. O`Shea.


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