An article from Kerryman published on 28th January 1961, written by Michéal O’Ruairc
£1,300 Need by Boherbee John Mitchels to purchase playing field
Plans provide for development of pitch and building of pavilion and clubhouse
In the Verse at the top of this page in very simple terms is one of two ambitions of the John Mitchels Hurling and Football Club i.e. to acquire a suitable playing pitch within its own area and fit it out with dressing rooms and in time to add Club rooms that will enable both players and members to keep in close touch with each other and thus to take a greater interest in the activities of the Gaelic Athletic Association.
The Particular field is at the moment the property of the Kerry County Board G.A.A. and contains about five statute acres. It adjoins Austin Stack Park, on the west side or at the top end of the park. More popularly known in Boherbee as George’s (George Nagle, one- time owner). It was four years ago purchased by the O’Donoghue family for £1,300 odd. The Board bought this valuable property with an eye to using it to enlarge the existing Austin Stack pitch and also to have a second ground for practice games and to give a “rest” to the main ground.
The Co. Board now considers that the Austin Stack Park can be enlarged without going out side its own grounds and has offered to sell George’s field to the Mitchels for the original purchase price. In actual fact the club has being using the field for practice games and training for the last few years. The members of the club feel that with its many competitions for Juvenile hurling league, the Hanafin Memorial Cup (football under 15); The Tommy King Cup for senior football and the Foley Cup, that they must acquire their own field for the prompt running of the many games involved. What better means to accomplish this than to purchase George’s.
At an open air meeting, one evening last summer in this field it was unanimously agreed to buy the property from the Co. Board. At a meeting of the board last year, the Mitchels offer was accepted.
Matters rest so-as the seanchai of “The Rambling House” might say – and all that now remains is, for the Club to acquire this is ever-occurring thing called money, to purchase the field. The picture is not a dark one at the moment and already a goodly number of its supporters have pledged themselves to contribute a fiver each to help out.
The Club is much heartened by these offers of solid financial assistance and appeals to its many supporters and friends to assist in clearing off this substantial burden which the Club was forced to undertake for the present and future good of the games in the Boherbee area. Former players and friends who have emigrated to Canada, Australia and the United States we feel will approve of our action and any subscription no matter how small will be gratefully received and acknowledged. These may be sent to the Chairman of the Club Mr. James J. Foley, 24 Castle Street, Tralee. It is also the intention of the Club to make a house-to-house collection of the area in the next week or so
To sum up briefly what has been elaborated on the Club’s ambitions are to (a) enclose the field, (b) lay out relegation size pitch and two (estimated) practice pitches for juveniles, (c) erect pavilion and clubhouse.
Boherbee John Mitchels are, as far as successes in Senior Football Championships go, riding the crest of the wave. Having won the 1959 County Football Final, they have also contested the 1960 Final, drawing with West Kerry. The replay of what turned out to be a game of highest standard is eagerly awaited in the coming spring in the enlarged and altered Austin Stack Park. The time is therefore, suitable to look back over the years and recount some of the history of Tralee’s oldest and most famous club.
“There was always a team in Boherbee” “Boherbee was the home of Football in Tralee.” “The Mitchels (Tralee) were always there.” These are but three of the replies that the writer received when he enquired from some of Tralee’s old footballers how long the Mitchels were in existence. It must be noted here, however that the reference to Boherbee in the first two sentences and to the Tralee Mitchels in the third does not indicate one and the same team.
Undoubtedly there were footballers in Boherbee from the first days of the Association (1884) but in those times there were no organized competitions between the streets as we have from 1918 onwards. Tralee for inter-club or inter-district competition was the unit and the best players in the town engaged in the County Championship under the banner of the Tralee Mitchels. It is of the history of this team that we wish to speak before coming to sketch that of Boherbee John Mitchels, who consider themselves as heir to the older club, and so many players did the Boherbee district contribute to the town team, that they are forgiven if they identify themselves with the Tralee Mitchels.
We know from Mr. Paddy Foley’s valuable Kerry’s Football Story that the First County Board Convention was held (in Tralee) in 1886. It was presided over by Mr. Thomas Slattery (Rock St) and it was Mr. Maurice Moynihan, who was responsible for placing the G.A.A. on a solid footing. Although we don’t know the exact date of the formation of Tralee Mitchels, we may safely conclude that it was in existence on that date in 1886. We have been told that the Club was founded in Oakpark. The Mitchels had to wait until 1897 to win its first County Championship or rather share it with Caherciveen.
Turning the tide
With the turn of the century came also the turn of the tide for Tralee Mitchels and from 1902 to 1910 they were definitely on a crest of a wave winning every County Championship title in senior football. A matter of greater significance and rejoicing was the first step taken by a Kerry team, consisting mainly of the Mitchels and Killarney, in winning the Kingdom’s first All-Ireland Senior Football Title. A Boherbee man Thady Gorman captained this team and other Boherbee players were Jamsey Gorman (twin brother to Thady), Denny Curran, Connie Healy, Johnny Buckley, John Thomas Fitzgerald and Maurice McCarthy (whom every follower of the “Road” claims is, by adoption or otherwise a Boherbee man). Five of Kerry’s eight points in the third Kildare game of 1903 was scored by Boherbee sharp shooters Jamsey Gorman and John Thomas. Charlie Duggan of Boherbee played in the second game.
When Boherbee followers refer to their team as heirs to the Tralee Mitchels are mindful of the fact that Tadgh and Dan Joe, sons of Con Healy, Michael and Jimmy, sons of Jamsey Gorman; Paddy son of Denny Curran; and Mitchel and Dan Joe sons of Maurice McCarthy have been more than prominent and successful in all grades of football, Club (Boherbee) or County.
A point of interest is that in the 1903 All-Ireland Final, Kerry wore the green and red of the Tralee Mitchels Junior Team. The writer in interviewing some of the older players overlooked asking what the colours of the senior team were. Many readers will probably supply the answer. One thing is for certain, however, that Kerry teams wore similar colours as long as the writher can remember. One further sign of the Club’s identifying itself with the Tralee Mitchels.
7 a.m. training
Recalling his football days (1903-1909 period), Denny Curran told the writer how, in summer time, he often trained in the sportsfield at seven o’clock in the morning. Nowadays, seven in the evening, is sometimes too early for some of our modern players. Denny’s working hours in those times were 9.a.m. to 11.p.m. Often Austin Stack would tap at the window of the business premises in which Denny worked , to bring him up for an evening practice in the Sportsfield. That evening Denny had to do without his tea as he had to return to work immediately after his hour’s work-out.
Denny also recalled that when the Tralee Mitchels wanted a practice game, the players in the Boherbee area used to play the rest of the town. Denny is one of the four survivors of the 1903 team and is vice-chairman of the Boherbee John Mitchels Club and takes more than an active interest in its activities. Incidentally, Denny was one of the Kerry’s four Midfield-men in the 1903 Final.
In the 1906 All-Ireland Final another Boherbee man, Johnny Sullivan (now living in Northern England) made his debut. In the 1909 final two more from the “Road” Tom Costelloe and Frank Cronin made their appearance. Tom was also a good hurler and was a member of the Tralee Mitchels team that won the County Hurling Final in 1911. His brother Pat was also on the winning team.
The present trainer of the Boherbee John Mitchels football team is Jacques McDonnell, son of a more famous Jacques, who was Hon. Secretary and manager of the of the Kerry Football teams in the 1902-1909 period. A member of the Tralee Mitchels No. 2 or junior team in 1904 and member of the successful hurling team, the Celts in 1910, he was also chairman of the Munster Council. He refereed the Senior Munster Hurling Final in Dungarvan in 1913.
Another Boherbee man, very actively connected with the Tralee Mitchels and Kerry Football teams from the early days. Is Jack Pendy, of the staff barracks, Jack was the custodian of the Jerseys and general utility man for the Tralee Mitchels even before 1900 and his connection with the Kerry teams extends from about 1887 to the late 1930’s. Jack had supplied the information to an earlier question in this article re; colours worn by the Tralee Mitchels in 1903. Jack tells me that the Mitchels Senior team wore a green jersey with gold in the collar and cuffs.
Comparing the ease with which the present day teams can travel in fast, comfortable cars, Jack recalled that the players in early days travelled in horse drawn wagonettes or “long” cars. In the 1903 game in Tipperary, the Kerry team had to travel the three miles from Limerick Junction in such slow moving vehicles.
Reference has been made to the Tralee Mitchels Second team or the juniors in connection with its colours-green and red- worn by the Kerry team in the 1903 final. Vincent Neville, of Castlemorris, Ballymullen, who played with the Tralee Mitchels Senior Team in1907-8-9, was kind and helpful enough to show me a photo of the 1908 Mitchels juniors. It included the following members from Boherbee and District; Johnny Hogan (brother of Eugene), Paddy Costelloe (plumber), Billy “Boxer” Connor, (Moyderwell) and Co-trainer1913-14 Kerry Senior Footballers, Paddy Egan (Moyderwell), Alf Neville (brother of Vincent) and Billy Edgeworth (Cloghane). Vincent also told me that Boherbee used play the pick of the town in practice games of his time.
More than once at Boherbee conventions, the writer has heard club President John Joe Sheehy speak the praises of the “Garden Boys” and how these players were the pioneers of football in the “Road”. The gardens referred to was a stretch of ground situated off Dispensary Lane, in lower Boherbee, between it and the railway. It was divided into plots which the locals tilled for a time. Eventually this land ceased to be “The garden where the Praties grow”. The young enthusiastic footballers of Boherbee seeing their opportunity leveled out the rough spots and kicked and hurled to their hearts content. At times, they weren’t averse to crossing over into the adjoining George’s field and stealing an hour or two’s practice on a much smoother sward.
Jimmy O’Connell, who later went to Australia around 1912, was the founder and shining light of “The Garden Boys” another was John Thomas Fitzgerald of the county team. “The Garden Boys” had a hurling team that wore black and white.
Maurice Fleming, painter, of Castlemorris tells me that “The Garden Boys” were also known as “The Yellow Road Boys”. He also told the writer that there was a team in Boherbee before 1910, known as the Johnny Redmonds. Also, that about 1906 the Owen Roes existed in Boherbee and that Tommy Griffin, a brother of Joe (now in Dublin) was a member of this team
Up to 1910 all had been going more than well with the Tralee Mitchels. They had won every County S.F Championship from 1902 to 1909 and then civil war broke out and divided the happy camp. Whatever the real cause or causes of the cleavage – the writer has been given at least two – the result was that a number of dissatisfied players, and mostly from the Boherbee district broke away from the Tralee Mitchels and started the Parnells football and hurling club. The date would be around the end of 1909 or early 1910and the meeting to take this step took place in a club room situated in what is now Harty’s shop. Jimmy O’Connell (already referred to) was the first secretary and John Thomas Fitzgerald was Chairman.
The Parnells fielded teams in 1911 and 1912 in the county senior football championships. In the first year they were defeated by Mitchels. The second year they defeated the Mitchels in Rathmore but were later beaten rather easily by Killarney. Shortly afterwards the two teams made up their differences and the Parnells returned to the fold. The cleavage short-lived though it was, weakened the football strength of Tralee and was probably the cause of the Championship leaving the town in the years immediately after 1910.
Before leaving the Parnells, here are the names of a number of Boherbee men who composed this team; Eugene Hogan, Tommy King, Jack McGaley, Jim O’Donoghue (brother of Donncha), Dickson Fitzgerald, Tadgheen “Barry” O’Connor, John T Fitzgerald, Jim Whiston, Mick Kennedy, Dick Dowling, J Sullivan, Danny Kerins, Tim Sullivan, Georgie Lynch and Jim Joe Riordan.
Not having the Sportsfield to practice in the Parnells trained in the field between Rathass Graveyard and the then Workhouse.
Another point of interest re; the Parnells, is that at the 1937 convention, there was a proposition to call the Club “The Boherbee Parnell Football and Hurling Club”. Another delegate pointed out that Boherbee had an even older and longer connection with the Mitchels and it was agreed without division to give the club the name it now bears, The Boherbee John Mitchels Hurling and Football Club.
Before passing on from the earlier history of football and clubs in Tralee, the writer would like to give some information which Maurice McCarthy has so kindly given and which was received after most of the previous was written. I am thankful to Maurice and Eugene Hogan (now of the square) for their contribution to the section dealing with the Parnells.
Maurice in answer to a query of mine re; street matches in the early 1900 to 1910 period, pointed out that there was little activity in this sense. There were competitions between the clerks of the drapery establishments in the town but these were of brief duration and faded out.
Re; the Colours that Kerry wore in 1905 (1903 Championship) game against Kildare in Tipperary, Maurice is insistent in describing the jersey as an all red one without any green in it. He explained that the wearing of this jersey was due to the fact that a new set of green and gold jerseys that had been ordered by a Tralee firm had not been delivered in time for the Tipperary game.
Maurice, whom Joe Rafferty, the 1903 Kildare captain described as “the greatest back I have seen” and who had the longest career of any Kerry footballer, regards himself as a Boherbee man and had two sons, Dan Joe and Mitchel, who played with the club. Maurice won his first All-Ireland in 1903, won his fifth in 1914, eleven years afterwards.
A number whom I have spoken to have told me that in the earlier days we have dealt with there was not as much football activity in the Rock Street area as compared with the Boherbee end. Football there was in Strand Street but the emphasis was more on hurling in Rock Street. Be as that may, it seems that inter-street competitions were underway by 1918 when Boherbee defeated Rock Street with the following team, J. Vale, Tim O’Connor, Jim Joe Riordan, Tom Cremins, Jackie Dowling, Tom Daly, Dickson Fitzgerald, Wm Fitzgerald (father of Amy, Club secretary), Tom Foley, J. Wall (Capt), Denis O’Donoghue, John Dee, Jerry Hanafin, Pat (Bolger) Donoghue, Tommy Vale, Wm Mullins, _ Conway.
The troubled and unsettled times between 1919 and 1923 saw an almost complete stand- still as regards games in Tralee. The release of the many internees led to the re- blossoming of football in Tralee and County, and the next ten years may be termed the “Golden Age” not only of Kerry football but of Tralee’s also. In that period Kerry won six senior All-Ireland titles out of eight it contested, besides also winning three Junior and three Minor All-Irelands.
The success of the county was reflected very strongly in club football in Tralee, with Rock Street the new and powerful force, challenging Boherbee for town league and County honours. If before 1923 Rock Street had not sufficient strength to beat Boherbee, they could now fact the best with players like Joe Barrett, Bill, John Joe and Tim Landers, E. (Pedlar) Sweeney, Jerry “Plugsy” Moriarty, Denis (Rory) O’Connell, John (Gal) Slattery, Micko Doyle, Bill Gorman, Jimmy Baily, Tommy Barrett, Dan Dyan and Martin Regan to name some of the players who donned the county colours in those years.
Tralee until 1928 (after which three town clubs affiliated separately in the Co. Championship) played as a unit in the Co. Championship, which it won easily with such players above mentioned and the pick of Boherbee and Strand Road. The only time that a serious challenge arose from any part of the county was in 1927 when Tralee had to play three games against a North Kerry team which included Con Brosnan, Bob Stack, Johnny Baily, Tommy Mahony, Paul Sullivan, Jimmy Sullivan and the County Chairman Frank Sheehy.
Strange as it may seem today, when the senior county football championship is the premier competition, such was not the case in Tralee in the middle twenties. As far as Tralee teams were concerned, the winning of the Tralee League senior titles, both football and hurling was a greater prize. Tralee could beat any team in the county, but Rock Street could not be always sure of beating Boherbee. When these two teams met in the League Football Final, people came from as far as Cork and Limerick to see a high standard of football, the like of which has not been since.
This is the Boherbee team of 1925 which defeated Rock Street in the Tralee Senior League Final. J. Riordan (goal), Denis O’Donoghue (Capt.), Joe Vale, L. Dowd, John Joe McCarthy, Jerry Hanafin, Jack O’Connor, Paddy Whitty, Michael Powell, John Joe Sheehy, Patsie Curtin, P (Tut) Costelloe, Paddy Griffin, Tommy Barrett, M. Sullivan; Subs; Jack Moriarty, Tom (Boney) Duggan, Jerry McCarthy.
As already stated, Boherbee, Rock Street and Strand Street affiliated in the County Championship in 1928, with Rock Street the winners. The following year it was Boherbee’s turn to win its first county senior football title defeating Rock Street with its many stars. This was the team in 1929; J. Riordan (goal), Jack O’Connor, Denis (Donncha) O’Donoghue, Paddy Curran, Eugene Powell, Bill Kinnerk, George Powell, Paddy (Tut) Costelloe, Con Gainey, Jackie Ryan, Michéal O’Ruairc, John Joe Sheehy (Capt), Patsy Curtin, Paddy Griffin and John (Brud) Costelloe; Subs; T. (Boney) Duggan, L. Dowd, J. Moriarty, T. Brosnan, J. Flynn, P. Mahony.
Since that date until 1960 Boherbee John Mitchels have contested eleven finals, winning five, 1929, 1937, 1947, 1952, 1959, and losing in 1931, 1941, 1942, 1946, 1949. For the record we give the names of the players on the successful teams:
1937: J. Sheehy (goal), Pats O’Mahony, Joe Keohane, Paddy Curran, Eugene Powell, Flor O’Callaghan, Bill Kinnerk (Capt), Tadgh Healy, Carl O’Sullivan, Michael O’Gorman, Jim Baily, P O’Donoghue, Michéal O’Ruairc, William Mason; Subs: E. Sugrue, T. Weir, M. O’Connor, W. Morris and D McSweeney.
1947; Tom Dowling (goal), Paddy Cleary, Joe Keohane, Charlie Irwin, D. Regan, Tadgh Healy, Michéal “Haulie” Lynch, D. J. McMahon, William “Bruddy “ O’Donnell, S. Moriarty, Frank O’Keeffe, Eddie Dunne, V. Ryan, Miley Hurley, Pat O’Donoghue; Subs; M. King, L McCarthy, L. Brick, G. Madden, J. Kerins, T. Weir, M. McDonnell, G. Duggan, M. Dunne, M. McMahon, N. Hickey, 1952; Garry O’Mahony (goal), J. Breen, J O’Donoghue, J. Lynch, Mick O’Donovan, Niall Sheehy, M. “Haulie” Lynch (Capt), D. J. McMahon, Brendan Galvin, P. Lynch,
William “ Bruddy” O’Donnell, W. McGinn, Jimmy Porter; Subs; Noel Dalton, E. Moriarty, P. Brosnan, G. Weir, G. Pierse,
1959; Garry O’Mahony (goal), John Dalton, Niall Sheehy, Alan Conway, William Kerins, Brendan Galvin, Fred Lynch, Harry Burke, Brian Sheehy, Sean Og Sheehy, Paudie Sheehy, John O’Shea, Paddy Sayers, Teddy O’Dowd, Seamus Roche; Subs; Eamon Horan, Willie Donovan, Gerald Pierse, Martin Flynn, D. Casey, J. Kelliher, John Moynihan.
The minor football county championships were not begun until 1945 when a Tralee team with Johnny Sullivan (Boherbee) as Captain won the title. The following year Tralee with another Boherbee Captain Michéal Lynch, again took the Title. In 1954 and 1958 Boherbee as a separate team annexed the titles.
The 1954 team was composed of the following Tony Riordan (goal, son of Johnny), M. Coffey, J McSweeney, John Moynihan, Brian Sheehy, S. Leahy, Eamon Horan, L. Chute, Teddy Dowd, J. Donovan, Fred Lynch (Capt), G. Weir, J. Weir, R. O’Sullivan, T. Kerins. 1958 team; R. Powell (goal), Alan Conway, Donal Cantillon, D. Lynch, P. Healy (Capt), Harry Burke, Willie Donovan, Sean Rusk, Roddy Day, John O’Shea, J. Cournane, Seamus Roche, Paddy O’Mahony, J. Kelliher, A. Kerins.
1961 team was Paddy O’Connor, John O’Donnell, Roddy O’Donnell, Sean Mahony, Seanie Burrows, Edmund Stack, Ted Fitzgerald, Jimmy O’Mahony, Michael Morris, Buddy O’Grady, Dominic O’Donnell, Derry O’Shea, Johnny Burrows, Georgie Collins, Patrick Lynch, Francis Sugrue, Michael Teahean, Pat Hobbert, Francis Foley, Robert Casey, Patrick Flynn, Jimmy Healy, Jimmy Donovan and Bruddy Burrows.
Hurling was almost as popular as football in Boherbee in the 20’s.
“The Goalie played with a tennis racket”
I may not have sufficient time to write about hurling in the Boherbee end of the town, which was always devoted to the game, more so, however the former years. In the latter twenties, during Tralee’s supremacy in football, hurling was almost as popular as the big ball and the loss of the Senior Football Tralee League Championship was more balanced by the winning of the similar title in hurling. John Joe Sheehy, Johnny Riordan, Bill Kinnerk, Donncha Donoghue, Patsy Curtin, Bruddy Costelloe, George Powell, Con Gainey to name but a few of the footballers were as adept with the caman. Many of these played hurling with the county and John Joe Sheehy was selected for Munster in the Railway Cup but chose to play with the Munster footballers, playing on the same day. Apart from the Championships, the streets of the town were each able to muster a good hurling team. Challenges were often issued with each player subscribing a shilling, winner takes “all”. Around 1925 Moyderwell played Ashe Street in the Camp field. I was Present at the match – being only a garsoon- and remember the goalie, Joe Doyle, now parish clerk, guarding the goal with a tennis racket. Checking in this the other day, Joe told me that he played the first half with the racket, but had to use a Hurley the second half as Percy Hannifin objected at half time.
In 1904 there was a Tralee Junior Hurling Club comprised of the Boherbee “Garden Boys”, Rock Street and The Mall. In 1907 the Garden Boys beat the pick of the rest of Tralee. In 1910 Tralee Mitchels beat Kilmoyley. Nine of the Mitchels, including Tom Costelloe, T. Cronin, W. Leahy, E. Flaherty, John Dunne, Dan Mullins were from Boherbee. The Tralee Mitchels team of 1911 included Tom Costelloe, Mick Dunne, Dan Mullins, Jim Ducie (uncle of Joe Keohane), Pat Costelloe and Jim Donoghue, all of the “Road”.
The records show that Tralee Celtic won the County hurling championship in 1903 and Tralee won county titles in 1909-10-11-12 and later in 1914-15, Tralee Parnells won in 1918 and 1919.
Other prominent Boherbee hurlers besides those already mentioned were: Ned Flaherty, Mick Mullins (Chutes Lane), the Harnett Brothers (Dispensary Lane), Jerry (Unkey) O’Connor, Danny Sullivan, John and Jim Weir and Georgie Weir, Eddie Gould, Tommy Vale, Jerry Flynn and last but not least Niall Sheehy, one of the best present county hurlers. This list is not exhaustive and many others will suggest themselves to Boherbee readers.
The Boherbee Club has long been served by capable, energetic and self-sacrificing officials who have acted as chairmen or secretaries down the years. Their great work for the club deserves to be recorded but in a short article like this no more than listing them can be done.
The following were the Club’s Chairmen: Mr. Jimmy Foley (present official), Tommy King (1952-1955), Joe Keohane (1952), William Kinnerk (1951), Jerry Myles (1925 – 1951), Dan O’Shea (1924) and John Dunne (1918). There are obvious omissions in this list but at the moment they cannot be filled.
Club Secretaries: Amy Fitzgerald and Paddy Carey (present secretaries), Jerry Flynn, Tommy Dempsey, Paddy Commane, Bruddy Costelloe, Jerry McCarthy, Matthew McMahon, Liam Skinner, Frank Maginn, Tom Daly and Sylvie Mason.
This article on the Boherbee field project and the brief history of the Tralee Mitchels and the Boherbee Club has been a rushed job and it may contain more than one error of fact. If the reader discovers such, the writer would be grateful to learn of it. He also wishes to thank all those who put the information that the article contains at his disposal. In dealing with the history of the Tralee Mitchels, reference has been made only to the portion of it concerning its members from the Boherbee end of the town.
Kerry Representative on the Central Council GAA and Vice President of the Tralee John Mitchels Hurling and Football Club