I learned my football and hurling up the gardens in Boherbee under the guidance of the late Ted Landers (uncle of the Landers Brothers of Rock Street and Kerry fame), Thomas Foley and Jock Baily(??).
I also played a lot of football and hurling in my young days in Whelan’s field in Boherbee where all the council houses are now built, the camp field in Ballymullen and Barrett O’Leary’s in Rock Street now the Greyhound Track.
My First public appearance on a Gaelic field was playing for the Tralee technical school in Listowel in 1925 against St. Michaels and again in 1926 against the Killarney Sem in the Kerry School and colleges football championship against such players as the present Dean of Kerry, Rev Father Bob Murphy, Ml Clifford of Milltown and the Mc Gillicudy’s of Killarney and Killorglin.
After leaving school in 1927 I joined the Tralee Rangers where we won the Tralee district junior league in out first attempt in that grade. The Rangers was primarily composed of lads from the Boherbee and Ballymullen areas with the late Dan O’Keeffe of Kerry fame from Strand Street and I might add the Rangers was the first team “Dan O” played with in goals, Colm Ryle from Strand Street, Dan “Sado” Walsh of Rock Street. There was a surplus of footballers in the Boherbee area at that time and it was next to impossible to get into the Boherbee Club, the interesting thing about the final, it was Boherbee we met and beat, it was also the first football medal I won and I still cherish it.
In 1928 I joined the Ballyseedy team, mostly composed of Boherbee lads such as Pats Murphy, Willie Mason, Tommie Murphy, Con O’Connor, Gaffney Duggan, Tom Duggan, John “Merc” Foley, Jack Murphy, Tom Dowd of the bog road (uncle of Teddy Dowd) and Tom Erwin of Ballymac, we were beaten by Rock Street in the junior semi final after two great games with Boherbee.
In 1929 I joined the Boherbee Club and I got my place on the senior team, this was a great honour for me as I was always anxious to play for my native club. This was Boherbee’s year of Glory as we went on and won the Kerry Senior Championship for the first time in the history of the club, we beat a star Rock St. team in the final composed mostly of Kerry All-Ireland players. Micheál O’Ruairc and Paddy Curran who had played with me with the Rangers were also on the team.
In the years of 1930, 31, 32, 33 and 34 I won several trophies and medals with my County and my Club. In 1933 I toured the U.S.A with the Kerry Team and also won a national league medal.
In 1935 there was a general stand down in all GAA activities in Kerry in sympathy with the republican prisoners.
In 1936 we had in Boherbee a lot of young lads who had shown great promise in their school football and could be the nucleus of a great Boherbee team for the coming year, Lads like Joe Keohane, the Healy Brothers, Louis Mc Sweeney, Carl O’Sullivan and Fr. Jim Pierse.
We started off in 1937 winning the Tralee Senior league and O’Sullivan Cup and also the Kerry Senior County Championship for the second time in our history, I had the honour of captaining the team and what a wonderful bunch of lads I had under my charge, many of them went on and donned the Kerry Jersey with great distinction afterwards. I was a member of the Kerry team with Joe Keohane and Tadgh Healy when we beat Cavan on a replay the same year in the All-Ireland.
I captained the Kerry team that were beaten by Galway on a replay in 1938 in the All- Ireland Final.
In 1939 I captained the Kerry team that toured the U.S.A with Galway and we won all our matches and bought home the Irish Echo Cup, the finest trophy that ever came into the county. I have possession of that cup in my home in St. John’s Park, after the tour I decided I would call it a day and I sent in my resignation to the Kerry County Board and thanked them for their help and confidence on me.
I was a delegate to the county board with Eugene Powell for many years and was also Chairman of my Club.
On conclusion, I would say I enjoyed my playing days, I would do it all over again, I made a lot of great friends both on and off the playing fields and have many happy memories.
2 St. John’s Park, Tralee.