A different kind of festive fever strikes North Kerry in December

Brosna manager Liam Brosnan throws out words such as “mythical” and “carnival” when attempting to capture the allure of the North Kerry football championship.

A different kind of festive fever strikes North Kerry in December

Brosna manager Liam Brosnan throws out words such as “mythical” and “carnival” when attempting to capture the allure of the North Kerry football championship.

Brosnan himself is not a North Kerry man. Home for him is Currow, just outside Farranfore.

But, in this his first season with Brosna, he’s quickly been indoctrinated as to the importance of the divisional championship in the top corner of the Kingdom

When sitting down with the Brosna players at the beginning of the year, Brosnan’s chief priority was the Kerry intermediate championship, followed by the county league, and then, lastly, the divisional campaign.

That’s not, though, how his players saw it.

Brosna have never won a North Kerry championship.

It’s a statistic they want to be corrected and having overcome Finuge and Ballyduff, the latter after a replay, Brosnan’s charges will tomorrow (Ballylongford, 2pm) contest only the club’s second North Kerry final.

Standing in the opposite corner are reigning champions St Senan’s.

“I’d say Brosna are nearly the only club not to have won the North Kerry championship,” Brosnan begins.

“The East Kerry championship final, between Dr Crokes and Legion, is also on this Sunday and you could have 1,000 people at that game in Fitzgerald Stadium, but there’ll be anything up to 5,000 at Ballylongford — in the middle of December, lest we not forget — for our game.

"They’ll come from West Limerick and all over North Kerry to watch it. It seems to be this kind of carnival-type tournament. The final, too, will be like a carnival.

“When you are coming in from the outside, it is very hard to put your finger on it, but when you are involved, like I am this year, you can see the want that is there to win the North Kerry Championship.

“It is a badge of honour. And when Brosna have never won it, it stands out a bit more for them.”

Brosnan rightly points out that county championship form in April/May or, indeed, league standings in early autumn are no indicator as to who might put together a sustained run when the North Kerry championship throws in by November.

Brosna were relegated from both the county intermediate championship and Division 2 of the league in 2019 and, yet, here they are, chasing a historic first North Kerry title just over a week from Christmas.

The North Kerry championship is the one championship where any team can win it in any given year.

“If you look back through the years, teams tend to win it when they are operating out of Division 4 or 5 in the league.

“We had an average of 18 players all year, and five of them are over 35.

“We’ve been punching above our weight. No team destroyed us in either the championship or league, but, at the same time, we were struggling for numbers.

“It would be huge to win on Sunday. The lads have their All-Ireland junior club medal from 2015.

"I do think a lot of them would nearly swap that for a North Kerry medal.

“I have one East Kerry O’Donoghue Cup medal and I probably cherish that more than anything because you win it with your friends, and you have bragging rights in the division for a year.”

Another motivating factor tomorrow will be to bring a small bit of light to an area visited by tragedy and grief in recent months.

Local woman, Kerrie Browne, the partner of Brosna footballer Éamonn Kiely, was killed in a road traffic accident on her way home from a night-shift in Kerry University Hospital, where she worked as a nurse, at the beginning of October.

“Christmas can be a hard time of the year. It might make it a small bit easier for Éamonn and the family if there was a bit of joy there, even if it was only for 24 hours.

“At least it would be something to put a smile on their faces. I put no pressure on Éamonn to come back in.

"I didn’t go ringing him, I left him back at his own pace. He just showed up one night for training. He’s one of our spiritual leaders.

“There have been tears of joy and tears of happiness after both our wins.

“After everything that has happened, it will mean a lot for those fellas if they could win North Kerry.”

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