The All-Ireland champions dreaming of divisional glory

Hear the one about the Kerry club who won county, provincial and All-Ireland titles and yet a divisional title remains beyond their grasp?
The All-Ireland champions dreaming of divisional glory

Brosna are likely to be the subject of one mean table quiz question but tomorrow they want to finally right that wrong. Their first North Kerry championship decider appearance, the challenge could hardly be stiffer against Listowel Emmets but manager Jimmy Keane isn’t perturbed: “Some people say there’s pressure on us because we haven’t been in the final but look we were never in an All-Ireland and we got over that so...”

Their run to the final is more reflective of a team with oodles of divisional success: their average winning margin across their three games amounting to over 11 points per game (Listowel’s is 10).

Understandably, the prospect of an All-Ireland junior title and the celebrations that surrounded claiming a Munster crown took their toll on Brosna’s North Kerry aspirations last year – they lost to St Senans after a quarter-final replay - but they have been able to make more of a concerted effort this past few months.

“We’ve always kind of had North Kerry within our sights but we haven’t had much luck in the competition,” says Keane.

“We got a few bad decisions against us down through the years. We’ve reached two semi-finals before and we didn’t have luck with us on the days. We’d be relatively new to North Kerry - 1975 was the first time we joined the division. Then we would have been playing in the junior competitions and down in the lower ranks of Division 2. Before last year, it was ’89 when we won the Kerry junior title before and it was only then that we started to come out of Division 2.

“We have always set our sights on it but last year we had our eyes on the bigger prize, which was the All- Ireland and we didn’t progress in it. It’s something we’ve always had ambition to win.”

The mantle of All-Ireland champions also has its benefits, claims Keane. “You have to say the All-Ireland does stand to us because no matter what you do after being to Croke Park and winning there you can always say you’ve been there and won. Anything that’s not in Croke Park may not seem as big but the North Kerry Championship is a special competition and probably one of the toughest district championships to win in Ireland.

“We use it as an inspiration.” Naturally, there was a lull following February’s winover John Mitchels but they have improved incrementally to the point where Keane feels his team have built up momentum with a string of wins.

“It works strangely after winning the All-Ireland. The celebrations were ongoing and things but the boys had been up to the summit of where you can be in club football and were coming back down to regular league games and the buzz of the serious championship was gone. We struggled a bit.

“In the league, we just put a few results that got us mid table but coming towards the end of the year it was very similar to last year in that we had a few big games coming up and once we trained hard in October we realised we could be playing games up to Christmas. We had an intermediate relegation game against Keel and that was another big championship game and it was a great game to bring us back to where we were last year.

“We had the first round of the North Kerry championship against Moyvane and we won that. That got the boys back into the buzz of championship football. Our next game, we had Skellig Rangers, which was a must-win game in the county league. If we lost that we could have been facing relegation in the league so there were big games coming week after week. Tarbert again last week was a big one and we’ve kept rolling. The boys love winner-takes-all stuff.”

Like most pitches along the west coast, Moyvane’s Con Brosnan pitch has suffered a good dousing of water torture but Keane won’t be using weather as an excuse. “Rain and a gale-force wind can affect games and performances but our boys are young fellas and they seem to shrug off those things. They’re full of running against the wind and full of kicking with it.”

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