Laune Rangers – 1890

 Laune Rangers retained the Co. SFC by defeating Mitchels in the replayed Co. Final on the score of 1-4 to 0-1.

JP O Sullivan was on the Kerry delegation to Annual Congress in Thurles on Wed. 6th Nov. 1889, at which he was elected onto the executive.


The one that got away:

Laune Rangers lost the Munster SFC final replay to Midleton on the score 1-4 to 0-1.

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Bill O Brien was Secretary of the Laune Rangers Club.


Co. Senior Football Championship


Twenty-four teams entered for the Co. Championship, Brosna, Castlegregory, Listowel, Ballymacelligott, Killarney, Keel, Muckross, Valentia, Castleisland, Milltown, Caherciveen, Laune Rangers, Waterville, Tuogh, Castlemaine, Aghadoe, Tralee (Mitchels), Tralee (Red Hugh’s), Lixnaw, Cordal, Rathmore, Listry, Knockanure, Irremore. For the purpose of convenience, the county was roughly divided into North and South Kerry for the competition.


Rd. 1 on Sun. 23rd March at Milltown: Laune Rangers 3-8; Castlemaine 0-0

The game was played in Milltown in a field, kindly given by Rev. B. O Connor P.P. As was naturally expected, the play was very one-sided and resulted in a big win for the previous year’s champions. From the beginning, play settled down in Castlemaine territory, the Rangers making several attempts for goals, which were well frustrated, however. The Rangers, during the first half, put six points to their credit. Castlemaine made one good rush in which they showed to advantage.

After change of sides, the Ranger’s captain made the first goal by a splendid punt from fifty yards off goal. A tough scrimmage then took place near the Castlemaine goal, which ended by the latter getting the ball on to the side. Another goal was made by the Rangers, but it was disallowed as being off a foul. Before call of time, however, Killorglin made two more goals and two points. The members of the Milltown club exerted themselves admirably for the preservation of order and their well-kept and spacious field was very agreeable. James Murphy, the Milltown captain, acted as referee.

The following piece appeared in the newspaper on the following week: ‘While the demeanour of the old teams is certainly irreproachable, the clubs, which are playing for the first time, are, on the contrary, deserving of some censure. At Milltown, where Killorglin and Castlemaine met, the backers of the latter were rather offensively disposed. However, I am happy to say, that nothing bad came of it. The Laune Ranges had too much good sense to be diverted from their play, for the sake of resenting  the insults offered by a few of the crowd. The Castlemaine people must make an effort to mortify their passion for shouting such shibboleths as “Castlemaine to the rescue”, especially when the said rescue is synonymous with the scalping of their opponents. If they do this, they, in all probability, will have a most respectable score next time, and the association, in all certainly, will command more respect.’


Rd. 1 on Sun. 30th March: Laune Rangers 2nd Team 0-5; Muckross 0-1.

That game was played at a very fast pace.


Rd. 2 at Tralee: Laune Rangers 0-7; Aghadoe 0-0.

Three matches were played on that day at that venue before a crowd of 3,000 spectators. The admission fee was 6d.


Rd. 3 on Sun. 15th June at Killorglin (Sean-Pháirc): Laune Rangers 2-1; Tuogh (Parnell’s) 0-0.

Judging from the reports on the game, the affair, to put it mildly, was neither creditable to some of the parties concerned nor to the GAA. What was peculiar about the matter, or rather, perhaps, what explained it, was that four of the Laune Rangers, including the captain, belonged to and lived in Tuogh parish (JP O Sullivan, James O Sullivan, Pat Sugrue and Dan P. Murphy). One would have thought that it was the simplest and most natural logic in the world, that when the opponents were friends and neighbours, sportsmanship and good temper would pervade the game but it seemed that the Tuogh mind was susceptible to a directly opposite system of reasoning. That led to the least interesting and, in some respects, the most disagreeable, exhibition in the line of football shown on the Rangers’ field at Annadale.

The transaction lasted over two hours and, in all that time, there were not five minutes of uninterrupted play and, the play, such as was there of it, was for the most part about the sidelines. In the first ten minutes, a goal was made by the Rangers. The ball was hit back by the goalkeeper after it had crossed the goal-line and, then again, driven a point by the Rangers. The Parnell’s were just then preparing for the glorious resource of retiring from the field but, the calamity was averted, as the referee thought proper to disallow the goal. After that, every score by the Rangers was the subject of dispute between their opponents and the referee who, it must be said, discharged his duties in a spirit of strict impartiality. Some of the Parnell’s seemed to be under the impression that it was possible to cancel the score by badgering the referee.

Subsequently, upon a decision of the referee, allowing the Rangers a goal, which Tuogh contested, the latter declined to play and, for some time after, the whereabouts of the beaten team on the field could be known from the senseless chattering audible from that quarter. After the game had been awarded to the Rangers, they re-opened the match at the request of their opponents but there was no change either in the score or the spirit of the game. It has to be said that the objections levelled at the Parnell’s style of play were exclusively applicable to a few players, who, possessing none of the qualifications for Gaelic play, strove to make their presence felt by conduct which, in the old times, was never practised in the freest form of rough and tumble.

Ref: James Murphy (Milltown).

Local folklore had it that during the game J.P. O Sullivan fell and was given an open kick in the side, the sound of which was like that of a drum.


In a letter to Father P. J. Devane via the Kerryman, dated 25th Nov. 1940, Dan McGillycuddy, Quaybawn, Glenbeigh, who had played with Tuogh in the above game, gave the following account of the game, ‘The Parnell’s came through the county and into the semi-finals. The draw took place at a Co. Board meeting the latter end of May. The game was fixed for the Killorglin Sports-field, a mile south of the town, owned by James Joy, Annadale, with a handsome gate entrance to it off the public road. The referee was James Murphy, Milltown captain, and a fine man and a good footballer. But when his name appeared as referee, the Parnell’s had no desire for it, as they were after defeating Milltown a short time previously. So it did not turn out as expected.

Both teams entered the field with a few brothers against each other, as there were four Tuogh men in the Rangers. They lined up with 21 men aside. There were three gaps, 21ft. each – with a selected man in each gap. They started with fury and determination. When about 15 or 20 minutes of the half were reached, matters were wicked, as the referee was allegedly not giving the Parnell’s any justice. The Parnell’s withdrew altogether and wanted to bring the match to Tralee. Before I depart from the first half, an incident occurred. Jeremiah Hayes, a Ranger, a fine man and as good a footballer as was in Ireland at the time, went to a forge in Killorglin the day previous to the match, got spikes made for the soles of his shoes and it was the writer’s brother made them for him. At the play he exercised them. He sprang at James Doyle, the Parnell’s captain, and put the spikes though his boot. The game stopped and there was terrible commotion. Hayes had to clear and throw off the shoes and get another pair. He folded up the spiked pair, put them for safety in a bush but some sturdy young fellows from Tuogh watched Hayes closely and they did not forget, putting good an edge on their penknife. They slipped away, found the hiding place and made ribbons of the spiked shoes. The boys were Michael O Sullivan, Shanacloon and James O Sullivan, Keel. Michael O Sullivan was a famous footballer afterwards, when about 20 years of age. A little still about the first half-hour. Jack Sheehan (Parnell’s), a fine footballer, got his jaw broken in a clash with a (fellow) Tuogh man. The first half-hour finished. Parnell’s left the playing pitch and several influential people intervened to finish where they were, so the Parnell’s agreed but Murphy, the referee, was to go off.

Then the Parnell’s agreed to Mícheál Doherty N. T. in Killorglin, living in the midst of the Rangers (a Glenbeigh man) to referee the second half. Moss O Brien, postmaster, and a Ranger, had to leave to get the post ready for the mail car, two horses and a wagonette from Cahersiveen, carrying passengers as well, as there was no train then from Cahersiveen to Killorglin. The Rangers got a fresh man instead of O Brien – Dan Guerin. It was terrible with 21 men aside for the half-hour and the three gaps, that there was not a goal or a point at either side, the Parnell’s having the better of the play. But the Parnell’s full-forward, James O Shea (Buffer), had the Rangers goal at his mercy. If he hit the ball with his little finger, it was out the goal. Instead he hit it with his thumb and drove it the wrong way. It was the rule at that time that any number of points would not beat a goal, so whatever the Rangers got through in the first half, it saved them. As far as I remember, it was two points. This left them in the final, which they won from the Tralee Mitchels.’

Laune Rangers: J. P. O Sullivan (capt.), Dan P.  Murphy (Tullig, Beaufort)), Pat Sugrue (Brookhill)), Tim and Tom Curran (brothers from Groyne)), James P. O Sullivan (Brookhill), Eddie and Maurice O Sullivan (brothers from Annadale)), Patsy Sheehan (Upper Bridge Street), John O Sullivan (Iveragh Road), Jeremiah Hayes, Pat Teahan (Gurrane), Moss O Brien (postmaster), Jimmy Doyle (New Line), Paddy O Regan (Lower Bridge St.), Dan O Neill (Tinnahalla), John Murphy (Newmarket), Tom Cronin (Cork), Denis Downey (Kenmare), S. Flynn and John O Reilly (Farrentoreen).

There were four players from the parish of Tuogh playing with the Rangers – J. P O Sullivan, James P. O Sullivan and Pat Sugrue (all Brookhill) and Dan P. Murphy (Tullig).

The Parnell’s: James J. (Shrathar) Doyle (Ardlahas) capt., Paddy Doyle (Kilgobnet), Paudeen O Sullivan (Brookhill), Thady O Connor (Shanavalla), Dan McGillycuddy (Bawncloon and later Quaybawn), Con and Tim O Shea (brothers from Shanavalla), Tom, Michael and Pat Doona (brothers from Cappagh), Jack O Shea (Ballyledder), James (Buffer) O Shea, Denis McSweeney (Cullina), Pat Purcell (Coolmagort), Denis Coffey (Coolmagort), Pat and Daniel Falvey (brothers from Clydagh)), Denis Foley (Bullough), B. Sheehan, Jack Sheehan (Cullina) and John Doyle (Meanus). William Coghlan N.T. was Secretary of the club.


‘Pars from Puck,’ by Laune Ranger, in the 26th April 1941 edition of the Kerryman, stated that, ‘local readers regretted very much that a reference made by a correspondent (to Father P. J. Devane) contained a reflection on one of the famous Laune Rangers, especially when the player, Jeremiah Hayes, has long since passed to his reward and is unable to reply. We cannot now enter into the truth or otherwise of the assertion but news of the alleged incident has come as a surprise to the surviving members of those who represented the Rangers that day. No useful purpose can be served by entering into a discussion as to whether spikes were used on the occasion, as suggested, but mention of it is resented by local Gaels.’

Three Rangers were still living that had played in that match – Moss O Brien, Jimmy Doyle and Dan P. Murphy.

Dan McGillycuddy replied in the following edition of the Kerryman as follows: ‘There was no reflection on Hayes. Owing to the use of spikes, the game was held up for a period with thousands of people looking on, some Cork as well as Kerry. Two sturdy youths took out the shoes from where they were hidden and cut them and handed them to Captain James Doyle after the play. He was taking them to Tuogh as a souvenir. Your Correspondent is the man that got the shoes from the captain and gave them to Hayes, who had followed along the road. The names of the two boys that cut the shoes were Michael and James O Sullivan, Shanacloon.’

In a letter dated 11th June 1941, Father John P. Devane wrote as follows, ‘I did not, for one minute, think that Hayes could be capable of having spikes put on his shoes for any match and, if I did believe such were the case, I certainly would not be the one to resurrect the poor fellow from the grave to pin on him anything so discreditable. I, myself, got such a kick from the fantastic story of this grotesque absurdity that I left it ride unexpurgated on the score that the incredible can do no harm and I was desirous, too, that others would get a kick out of it like myself. I erred though in not taking into consideration the fact that many readers of the Kerryman today did not know Hayes and that there is, besides, a certain class of readers who half-believe anything they see in print, no matter how absurd. Such stories connected with players of outstanding exploits, for or against, in truly Irish imaginative fashion, were not unusual then and, what matter if they were discredited, somehow they always lent to the event the charm of interesting embellishment. For the most part, there never was really any malice in those stories, only the desire for that self-importance in the eyes of others that comes from telling the unusual. Hayes putting spikes in his football shoes, and for what purpose? Did not God give him all the weapons of defence and attack that he had need of in a football field? He gave him an excellent pair of legs that he used to advantage on the ball and he gave him an unique pair of hands that he sometimes used to equal advantage on the ball and, if needs be, on the player, too, to show there was no hard feeling, for no one ever remembered with animosity Hayes’s excitable temperament on a football field. Never was it mixed with the least suggestion of rowdyism and was soon forgiven and forgotten.’

In a further letter from Father Devane, dated 23rd June 1941, he wrote, “The thought that the incident mentioned in a letter from one of our correspondents, relative to spiked football shoes for Hayes of Killorglin, could be taken seriously by those who knew him, has disturbed us very much. It is therefore to ease this feeling that we take the pen in hand again. As pointed out in our communications, it was not an uncommon practice in the old days to give the imagination full play in singularising individuals that stood out in any department of sport. Stories were started and we helped their circulation ourselves, when we knew better, precisely because of the self-importance we felt in being able to tell of the unusual.”

Later on in the same letter, he related that the death had taken place in Homestead, Florida, of Mrs. Julia A. Hammond nee Cunningham from Killorglin. “She did not leave Killorglin till she was a grown young lady and had the greatest admiration for all the Laune Rangers, but particularly Hayes. Frequently we heard her sing snatches of a song that fastened these words to our memory, ‘Hayes from the Laune in his lily-white skin.’ More than once, she told us that in the late eighties and early nineties, before the Radio was invented, when the Rangers played away from home, it was agreed that the engineer would give the people a certain signal with the train-whistle, approaching the town. The winning signal was one long whistle, two short ones and a long one. The losing whistle she could not remember, for, as she stated, she never heard it used.”


Semi-final on Sun. 22nd June at Rossbeigh: Laune Rangers w/o; Cahersiveen (O Connell’s) scr.

Cahersiveen failed to show for that game and, after a few hours of waiting, Laune Rangers went home. The game was awarded to Laune Rangers. Cahersiveen explained that the weather was too wet to travel. They argued that their players would be soaking wet by the time they would have reached Rossbeigh and would be unable to play. They accused Laune Rangers of being dishonourable in claiming the match and offered a challenge, which was not taken up.

The following letter appeared in the Kerry Sentinel on Wed. 9th July: “Sir, – Will you kindly permit me, through the medium of your popular journal, to make the following observations with regard to the match, which was to be contested at Rossbeigh on the 22nd ultimo, between Killorglin Rangers and Cahersiveen (O Connell’s). That the match was never played is an indisputable fact, and yet by what right and under what authority the ‘Rangers’ presume to claim it is really something that lies without the scope of my humble comprehension. Now, against whom did they play? Surely they did not see in the deserted field the shadows of twenty-one sturdy O Connellites. Even the referee was not present. There is something ludicrously novel in the whole proceeding, when I picture to myself the ‘Rangers’ coming to Rossbeigh, although they knew very well the O Connell’s team was not there, and, after going through some mysterious performance, returning home and writing to the County Board to be awarded the match – a rather comical procedure for acquiring the laurels of victory.

Now, taking a dispassionate view of the question, it is quite patent to an impartial observer that the action of the ‘Rangers’ was anything but honourable. The day in question was very wet, so much so that it was utterly impossible to think of travelling from Cahersiveen to Rossbeigh without endangering the health of the men. It is easy to imagine the condition of the O Connell’s after travelling twenty-four miles under a continual downpour of rain, and still our Killorglin friends would expect us to do that, and engage in football for an hour or more. Seeing that the rain was not likely to cease, the referee wired to Killorglin and apprised them of the fact that they could not go, and suggested the postponement of the match till some future day. Nothing more was heard about the matter until a letter was received here, informing us that the ‘Rangers’ claimed the match. In conclusion, I have only to say that we are ready to meet them when and where they will.

Apologising for trespassing on your valuable space, I am, sir, your obedient servant, James M. Sugrue, GAA”.


Co. Final on Sun. 13th July at Tralee Athletic Ground: Laune Rangers 0-0; John Mitchels 0-0

The match was looked forward to with a good deal of interest and it was expected that the victory would be a narrow one. Rangers were undoubtedly the favourites. Both teams undoubtedly put their best foot forward and never before had there been seen a match played with such determined and sustained vigour. The weather was very unfavourable, a lively breeze blew from the South-West and, for about two hours, the rain fell in torrents. The players sought shelter in the pavilion and the spectators cowered under each other and under everything.

John Langford, Killarney, had been appointed to referee the match but he failed to turn up and the result went near being a fiasco. A substitute had to be sought and Robert Finn, Castleisland, was mutually agreed upon. After about ten minutes he left the field and play continued for a considerable time before the fact was discovered that there was no referee. An interruption of nearly two hours, caused partly by the rain and disputes, then took place.

The details of the play during Mr. Finn’s reign, as supplied to the Kerry Sentinel by Maurice Moynihan, of Mitchel’s and Secretary of the Co. Board, were as follows: “Tralee won the toss and played with the wind. After a few minutes, the leather was rushed into the Mitchel’s territory and across the goal-line. After the kick-out, a spell of even play followed in neutral ground. The Tralee lines were soon again invaded and a free kick, near the forty yards mark, was awarded to Killorglin for a foul. The ball, however, was sent wide. Tralee then made a good rush and the ball was sent over the Killorglin goal line. They had not the advantage long, however, as they were soon again placed on the defensive. For a few minutes, the Tralee goal was badly threatened and Riordan of the Mitchel’s, getting possession was caught by the leg and pushed out. Rangers claimed a goal and Mitchel’s claimed a foul and the referee did not make up his mind about either claim until he had thrown up his position altogether.

The ball was kicked out and play was continued for some minutes longer. The ball, on one occasion, touched the bystanders and was, consequently, out of play. As there was no guiding authority, however, Rangers played the ball and scored a point. They did not, however, claim it very energetically. Play was then suspended for the purpose of getting another referee and, also, to discuss the merits of the opposing claims. The Mitchels insisted that the fact of the referee leaving the field nullified the portion played and wanted to have the game started afresh. The Rangers claimed that they had a goal and that a quarter’s play had sped. By the time the rain had ceased a compromise had been effected – that fifteen minutes had been played and no score.

Work was then resumed under the stewardship of J. D. McMahon (Ballymac). Nothing could be possibly more brilliant than the play for the rest of the time. During the quarter of an hour that remained of the first half, Tralee had the better of it and should have scored a point or two. Nothing, however, was done and both sides started the second half with clean records.

For nearly the whole time, play was in neutral ground and there were not five kick-outs from both goals given during that time. The Rangers captain, on one occasion, gave a beautiful kick from  the left near the goal line and, as the ball crossed the point post or near it, a point was claimed. The Mitchels disputed it, first that the ball had crossed outside the point post and secondly, that the post had been pulled out in a slanting direction by Killorglin backers. The referee was unable to make up his mind about the matter, so he made a compromise with his conscience and allowed a ‘conditional point’. No score was made by either side and, as ‘conditional points’ did not reckon, the match resulted in a draw. The fact that neither side was able to snatch as much as a point, was the strongest evidence of the close and exciting nature of the contest. As the evening was then late and the rain was again coming down and probably both sides had their fill for one bout, they did not play for an additional time to decide the match.”


The veracity and accuracy of the report was subsequently seriously questioned by William O Brien, Secretary of Laune Rangers Club.


Maurice Moynihan took issue with William O Brien’s questioning of his report and sent the following letter, dated 21st July 1890, to the editor of the Kerry Sentinel: “ Dear Sir, – The people of Killorglin are an exceedingly funny people! Mr. W. O Brien, of that historic town, gives them that character in a letter appearing in your last issue and when Sir Oracle O Brien opens his mouth, let no dog bark. The people of Killorglin, that is to say Mr. W. O Brien, were amused at the report furnished to your paper of the match between the Rangers and Mitchels, played in Tralee on last Sunday week, but the letter writer prudently confines himself to this vague general statement and carefully eschews anything in the nature of facts. Mr. O Brien says that ‘the Rangers, being aware that there was no representative of your paper on the field, have good reason to believe that the report was the work of a member of the Tralee Club – probably of one of the players.” Surely none but a man of Mr. O Brien’s mental calibre could feel justified in arriving as such an elaborate conclusion. When he knew there was no representative of your paper on the field, did he imagine that the report was to be supplied by that very convenient gentleman – the Man in the Moon? I know that it is unnecessary for me to tell Mr. W. O Brien and the Rangers that the report was supplied by me. They also know that, as far as the report went, it was a truthful one. I wrote nothing that was not, and set down nought in malice, but I maintained a charitable silence in regard to the blackguardism of some of the Rangers, who took advantage of and outraged the well-known hospitality of the Tralee Gaels, by daring to raise their hands in fight before the ball was in play for five minutes. There was no special pleading, as Mr. O Brien suggests, in the report. There was nothing narrated that did not take place but some facts, that would redound neither to the credit of the Rangers nor the GAA, were carefully ignored. Matters came to such a pretty pass, however, on last Sunday, that it is better look things straight in the face and denounce factiousness and rowdyism even when they are found to be the distinguishing characteristics of Mr. William O Brien’s team and followers. I shall come to these matters later on.

There is a lot of wadding in Mr. O Brien’s letter that I will not trouble you or your readers in sorting or refuting. The bare fact that the match was ordered by the County Board to be replayed and that the order was carried out on last Sunday disposes of all the rubbish, which he trots out. He makes a few statements, however, at the end of his letter, which are a disgrace to any team professing to be respectable, statements, which are aimed directly at the welfare of the Association in this county, and which, by every Gael in Kerry, will be placed to the debit side of the Rangers’ account until unconditionally withdrawn and amply atoned for. Mr. O Brien’s letter is an attempt to boycott the Tralee Club and the Tralee Athletic Grounds. He holds up to any club who plays here the prospect of an attack by her Majesty’s Militiamen. As regards that admirable and gallant force, I am sure their sympathy must have been largely on the side of Mr. O Brien, as there is no district in Kerry, which supplies so many recruits as that from which the Rangers hail. Her Majesty’s Militiamen, however, attacked no Killorglin man and interfered with no player. I am aware there was some belt practice but I have yet to learn that it was connected in the remotest degree with the Tralee v Killorglin contest. Her Majesty’s Militiamen were not told off as field stewards but if, as Mr. O Brien says, they exerted themselves in keeping back the people, all I can say is that this fact disposes of Mr. O Brien’s insinuation that they were a nuisance and it also proves that they were a good deal better mannered than himself, who, though acting in no official capacity, remained almost constantly on the field to the obstruction and annoyance of the players. I say with pride that there is not a field in Kerry, and I think I might say Ireland, where better order has been invariably maintained than in the Tralee Grounds and I have reason to know that there is not a club in Kerry, barring Killorglin of course, that would not prefer to play in Tralee rather than in any other field. But what has Mr. O Brien to say when confronted with his own hypocrisy? On the day that he handed in his letter at your office and, subsequent to that event, a meeting of the Co. Board was held, and in the presence and in the hearing of the Board, Mr. William O Brien and Mr. J. P O Sullivan, declared jointly and severally that they would rather play in Tralee again than in Killarney, which was suggested as the venue. So much for Mr. O Brien’s letter.”


The following is part of a letter from Rev. John P. Devane, Fort Pierce, Florida that appeared in The Kerryman on 4th March 1939: ‘In 1890, the Mitchels at last played the Rangers to a draw in the Tralee Sports-field. There much skirmishing throughout this entire game and excitement ran high while intermittent showers drenched the spectators. In one of the skirmishes, Hayes of Killorglin and Mike Pendy of Tralee, were the leading performers and, as it did not come an abrupt ending, Jim Pendy, Mike’s brother, advanced into the playing field to quell the disturbance but Tom Slattery and a few others prevailed on him to curb his activities and retire to the sidelines and, presently, peace broke out again as the sun came out after a shower. Later on, however, hostilities were resumed, to show there was no hard feeling, and on this occasion Jim Pendy, in double quick time, succeeded in reaching the scene of conflict with his umbrella and, at once, proceeded to restore order.’


True to form, William O Brien replied in the following edition of the Kerry Sentinel; “Dear Sir, – I claim the privilege of a reply to Mr. Moynihan’s letter in your last issue. Mr. Maurice Moynihan kicks up such a confusion, and takes so much pleasure in it, and everyone else takes so much pleasure in it also, that it is a public benefit to reply to him, if it will only have the effect of getting him to continue his antics. To me personally, the making of a reply is a pleasure, as it gives me the opportunity of showing how Mr. Moynihan has evaded every single statement put forward by me in the letter to which he has attempted to reply. He complains that, in my letter, there are no facts, that it contains a lot of wadding and rubbish, which he cannot sort and that all I have said is neutralised by the fact that the County Board ordered the match to be replayed. Now, sir, if Mr. Moynihan has deliberately avoided dealing with the facts stated by me, I will show your readers directly to what extent he has done so and, afterwards, I will take him up on the one solitary fact, the one argument on which he has thought it safe to rely, in dealing with my corrections of his unfair report. That gentleman ought not to have failed to notice the following facts stated in my letter, and stated concisely too without wadding or covert threats: – 1. That a goal was made fairly during Mr. Finn’s refereeship and allowed by him to our umpire. 2. That, when retiring from the game, Mr. Finn awarded the match to the Rangers’ captain. 3. That, in recommencing play, there was no arrangement made by our players about the score. 4. That the Tralee captain marked Killorglin’s score on a paper and handed it to the referee. Are not these facts with which Mr. Moynihan has failed to grapple? They were easy to sort but not easy to refute and Mr. Moynihan, I have no doubt, found it easier to make a swoop from Glenbeigh to Mitchelstown and cover space with supremely foolish allusions to blazing roof-trees and historical occasions. Mr. Moynihan ends his first sentence with a note of exclamation as big as a baton and he ornaments his second with a hackneyed Shakespearian abstract, which has done nearly three hundred years hard labour in literary matter of the same quality as the thing, which is occasionally turned out by Mr. Moynihan with and without his signature. An offensive epithet or an exclamatory burst is to Mr. Moynihan what an echo is to an ox and as long as he can think of either, no matter how far or how low he has to travel for the commodity, he continues to make noise with a bovine relish. He tries to bellow in English and, admiring his own commotion, he asks your readers to take it to themselves as argument, as truth, firm and fresh from the only impartial source.

But Mr. Moynihan’s misstatements are numerous and I must attend to them and leave his manner and methods to the appreciation of your readers. I am glad that Mr. Moynihan considered my reason for crediting a Tralee club-man or player with the report so obviously correct that, to him, its expression seemed superfluous. If that reason and his own implication that no one else excepting the Man in the Moon was interested in sending the report hold good regarding the Sentinel’s report, they may be held equally good in respect of the report in ‘Sport’ last week. I am now proceeding with Mr. Moynihan’s sanction. In ‘Sport’s’ report, it is said there was no score made by either side, and in the report of the Sentinel a goal and two points are recorded as objected to. Mr. Moynihan can explain that; I cannot.

Now let me point out the value of Mr. Moynihan’s assertion that the match was replayed by order of the Board. This is the one argument, which he places against the matter of my letter and I will, for that reason, test it fully. When a motion was passed that the match be replayed in Killarney on Sunday, July 27th, there were only four members of the Board present and the order was therefore null, and what he called a meeting was, in reality, no meeting at all. One of the referees, Mr. McMahon, attended but he left the meeting in displeasure at Mr. Moynihan’s misrepresentation of his actions as referee. Five are required to make up a quorum at the Board’s meetings and, notwithstanding that that number was not present, the proposition alluded to above was put forward by one Traleeman, seconded by another and declared carried by a third. Mr. J. P. O Sullivan put an amendment, insisting on the nullity of the motion and, though there was no one there to second it, it was afterwards practically adopted when the match was, at my suggestion, agreed to be played at a different time and place. The match was, therefore, not played by order of the Board, but by the mutual arrangement of the clubs – a very different thing – and whatever good Mr. Moynihan aimed at getting from that assertion must be chalked off as worthless. In Mr. Moynihan’s intercourse with Killorglin as a Gaelic official, I have shown that the first withdrawal has come from him and I will soon show that the second may be expected from the same quarter. I will tell him now what I did not then – that if the Rangers were awarded the match, they were prepared to challenge Tralee for a set of medals of the same class as they would receive.

I have to tell Mr. Moynihan that neither I, nor Mr. O Sullivan, stated we would prefer Tralee to Killarney for the playing of the match. My expressions on that point were candid, and can’t be misconstrued. I said that our men were unwilling to go to Killarney, as the followers of the teams there and here were engaged some time ago in a fishery dispute. That was all. But to push the matter to its full extent, I don’t see where the hypocrisy comes in, for if anyone, in my position, should have expressed the preference, it would mean only that he thought a cause of disturbance, which was unconnected with the play, was more serious in itself that anything arising from the excitement of the game. I must tell Mr. Moynihan that the Rangers will go further than refuse to play Mitchel’s in Tralee. They will refuse to play them, or other teams, in any field where the local club is not responsible to the Gaelic authorities for the order of the field. If the resources of the Board, or of any other body, will suffer diminution on that account, the fault will certainly not lie with the Rangers, but with the truculence of Mr. Moynihan and his friends.

Regarding Mr. Moynihan’s report of last Sunday’s match (see below), it is open to as many corrections as the first but the number of disinterested persons, who witnessed the match, was so large that the Rangers’ conduct on that day can be safely left to their judgement. And as to the Rangers’ characteristics, Mr. Moynihan need not have over-exercised himself in describing them. Those who know the Killorglin players, will laugh at his fury, while those who know himself, will be surprised that he should have recruited his team from the ranks of drummed out army men. The Rangers, one and all, think that if the Mitchels consider those parties good enough to play with, they, on their part, do not consider them good enough to play against, even when they have been subjected, for sometime, to the reformative influence of Mr. Maurice Moynihan’s secretarial authority. Faithfully yours, W. O Brien.”


Co. Final replay on Sun. 20th July at Molahiffe: Laune Rangers 1-4; John Mitchels 0-1.

Maurice Moynihan, Honorary Secretary John Mitchel’s GAA Club and Secretary of the Kerry Co. Board, gave the following account of the game, obviously from his and Mitchel’s point of view: “Now for the conduct of the Rangers when they had four-fifths of the crowd in their favour in Molahiffe on Sunday last. As there was no representative of your paper (The Kerry Sentinel) on the field, I will once again supply you with a report and I challenge the contradiction of the smallest item.

The Mitchels travelled to the ground by car and the Rangers by special train from Killorglin. The friends of the latter came in such force that all the available cattle wagons at the station were requisitioned. Almost every man was armed with a blackthorn and if the muscles of Mitchelstown were so tightly strung on a certain historic occasion, I say small blame to the R.I.C. for displaying such remarkable swiftness. Ah! But it was for the heads of their fellow Gaels the Killorglin sticks were meant. The prowess of the men who looked on impassive on the blazing roof-trees of Glenbeigh, was aroused on Sunday last against the peaceful participation in a supposed friendly game of football. God bless our champions and their friends! But to the details of the game:

Killorglin won the toss and played with a strong wind. For about twenty minutes, the Mitchels were kept nearly entirely on the defensive, the Rangers scoring four points. Two Killorglin players then struck a Tralee man (the referee bears me out) and the Killorglin outsiders then rushed in with sticks and belaboured everybody from Tralee. Some clergymen, who happened to be on the field, and other impartial gentlemen interfered and the savage instincts of the Killorglin men were quelled.

Play was resumed but the Mitchels, belabouring under the shadows of blackthorns, could hardly be expected to do as they would under more favourable circumstances. Before the first half had expired, however, they made a fine dash up the field and scored a point.

When sides were changed, the wind had altogether gone down and Tralee, looking for to the advantage, were badly disappointed. They worked, however, and kept the leather well into Killorglin territory. After about an hour’s brilliant play, the Rangers worked the ball up along the right wing and made a good kick for goal. The leather was coming just in front of the goalkeeper, when an outsider obstructed him and stopped the ball. A Ranger then met it and kicked a goal. It was, however, disallowed. Even play succeeded for some minutes. A Tralee man then struck the ball behind his own goal-line. A forty yards free-kick was awarded. The leather dropped near the goalposts and one of the Rangers, getting possession, ran out between the posts. The goal was allowed. Until call of time, the Mitchels had the better of it and, when the whistle sounded, had the oval in dangerous proximity to the Killorglin posts.

These are the facts of last Sunday’s contest but I expect they would be more amusing for Mr. O Brien and the people of Killorglin if I gave the names and ages of the wounded. The Rangers are now the champions of Kerry for 1890 and the Co. Board will of course be-medal them one of those days. They are to play Limerick in Tralee very soon. The Mitchels hereby disclaim any responsibility for the maintenance of order on that day.

Laune Rangers (panel): JP O Sullivan (capt.), John Murphy, Tom Cronin, Maurice O Sullivan, James J. O Sullivan, Tim Curran, Tom Curran, Jim Curran, Pat Teahan, Jeremiah Hayes, Dan O Neill, Dan P. Murphy, Moss O Brien, Paddy O Regan, Dan Clifford, Tom Foley, *John T. Clifford, John Phil Murphy, Patsy Begley, Thade Connor, *Pat McGillycuddy, Dan Guerin, Patsy Sheehan, Pat O Sullivan.

John Mitchels (panel): Bill Brick (capt.), Tim Slattery, Tom Slattery, Michael Brosnan, Michael Dowling, Dan Sugrue, Tom Ryle, M. Myles, M. Murphy, Robert O Kelly, Michael Costello, T. O Leary, John O Brien, Jeremiah Hannafin, Bill O Riordan, Mike Pendy, Maurice Moynihan, D. O Connell, M. Prendergast, Denis Kelliher, Patrick O Gorman, P. Parker, D. Nolan, P. Barry, P. Brick, E. Lenihan, Gene Landers, W. Sugrue, W. Sweeney, E. Scanlon.

Ref: Mr. John Langford (Killarney) – he acted throughout with conspicuous fairness and impartiality. The field, in which the match was played, is known to this time (2014) as The Rangers’ field.

*John T. Clifford (Foilmore) and Pat McGillycuddy (Renard) had been playing colleagues of John Murphy, Tom Cronin and Denis Downey on the St. Patrick’s Training College team that had won the Dublin Co. Senior Football Championship in 1887. Having been unable to line out with Cahersiveen in the 1890 Kerry Co. Championship, they threw in their lot with Laune Rangers when Cahersiveen was eliminated.

The following is another part of the letter from Rev. John P. Devane that appeared in The Kerryman on 4th March 1939: ‘The replay was decided upon and Firies was the venue. As might be expected, a great crowd from Tralee went to Firies as the day was ideal for football. The Mitchels made great preparations for this game and pressed into service a new player whose name was inextricably interwoven with the athletic traditions of St. Brendan’ Seminary, Killarney. It was the first time that we saw this player and the game had an added interest for us as soon as we learned that he was none other that the great Bally Hackey (Bill Riordan) himself, the unseen idol of our dreams. He was easily the outstanding player that day for the Mitchels, if not in the entire field. Several times did he advance the ball up the sideline almost the entire length of the field. But his efforts came to naught as the scoring forward, Buck Hanafin, had stage fright when operating in Rangers’ territory and so did not make the most of his opportunities, while the Rangers were adding winning points. It is true that this great player, more than once, took more than the allotted two or three steps with the ball, as his forte was rugby. But the indulgent referee, understanding the situation, did not jerk him up with the whistle for a penalty. The effervescent Hayes of Killorglin, though, jerked him up and imposed a penalty on his jaw. Like the model ecclesiastical student that he was, for it was his third year in Maynooth, this great player, following the scriptural injunction, turned the other cheek, so to speak, and, as might be expected, Mike Pendy then took a hand in the proceedings and completely upset the red-head’s equilibrium. In passing, it might be stated though that somehow Hayes was all the more likeable in a game, precisely because of these slight ebullitions of temper, which were entirely harmless, as there was nothing of the rowdy in him.’


In a further letter, dated 11th June 1941, Father Devane wrote, ‘We saw two evidences of this excitable temperament that brought him (Jeremiah Hayes) into collision with Mike Pender of the Tralee Mitchels. One was in the drawn game between the Mitchels and the Rangers at the Tralee sports-field in the summer of 1890. The other instance was during the play-off that year in Firies. On both occasions, we feel sure that as soon as the game was over, he could, unaccompanied by a single friend, walk down Boherbue and not an offensive word by man, woman or child, would be hurled at him. And were he to meet Mike himself, it would only be to call for two bottles of stout at Flahive’s. By his manliness and ability, he won the admiration of all, both friend and foe, but he had no foes, for even his little ebullitions on the football field seemed only to endear him all the more to the multitude.’


Munster Senior Football Championship


Rd. 1 on Sun. 3rd Aug. in Tralee: Laune Rangers 0-9; St. Patrick’s, Limerick 0-0.

The visitors were lucky in winning the toss and played with the sun at their backs. For the first five minutes, play was of the most even character, the ball being rushed up and down the field alternately, and the spectators had already calculated on an exciting and closely contested match, when the Rangers made a vigorous rush, invaded their opponents’ territory and placed two points to their credit in quick succession. The St. Patrick’s followed up the kick-out and the Rangers were forced to yield them a forty yards free, one of them having driven the leather, in self-defence, behind his own goal-line. St. Patrick’s, however, did not score and the scene of action was once again transferred to the visitors’ territory, where some hard fighting was witnessed. Before first half time had terminated, the Rangers had increased their score by two points, making their total four points to nil for their opponents.

During the second half, the play was mostly confined to the visitors’ territory. However, they made some capital rushes and forced their opponents to yield them several free kicks, which, however, they failed to turn to advantage. At the call of time, the score was announced 9 points for the Rangers to nil. Rangers claimed a goal in addition, but it was disallowed by the referee and, for that reason, cannot be conjectured, except, perhaps, that he was not near enough to see how it was made. Here was how it occurred. The Rangers were awarded a forty yards free, the captain made a clever kick for goal, the oval dropped a few feet in front of the goalposts, where an exciting scrimmage ensued, one of the Rangers ultimately succeeding in sending it out between the goalposts.

St. Patrick’s should have scored from the free kicks awarded to them but the secret of their failure was, perhaps, accounted for by the fact that they always kicked for goal.

Laune Rangers: J. P. O Sullivan (capt.), Jeremiah Hayes, Patsy Sheehan, Tim Curran, Jim Curran, Tom Curran, Maurice O Sullivan, James J. O Sullivan, Dan O Neill, Danny Clifford, J. Clifford, P. McCarthy, Thade O Connor, Pat Teahan, Moss O Brien, Dan P. Murphy, John Murphy, John Phil Murphy, Paddy O Regan, Patsy Begley, Tom Cronin.

St. Patrick’s: P. Ryan (capt.), F. Duggan, P. Rahilly, N. Lawlor, N. Ryan, J. Hynes, M. Sheehan, D. Brennan, A. Keane, W. McMahon, J. Hynes, J. Gana, W. Murphy, J. Jordan, D. Kelliher, C. McDonagh, J. Scanlan, P. Hayes, T. McMahon, M. Danagher, M. Lawlor.

Field Umpires – P. Collins and J. Cotter.


Semi-final: Laune Rangers were drawn to play the Clare representatives but they refused to play.


Final on Sun. 28th Sept. at the Markets Field, Limerick: Laune Rangers 0-0; Midleton 0-0.

The representatives of the Kingdom were fortunate in the toss but the first rushes were made from the Midleton side. The Killorglin men soon returned the compliment, however, and were driven back from a dangerous proximity to the Cork posts. In the course of a smart exchange of play in the centre of the field, a Kerryman attempted to run with the leather, thus giving Midleton a free kick in the centre, from which P. Moore cleverly brought the leather over the lines. A brisk exchange of play through the field followed the Killorglin kick-out, terminating in another rush over the Kerry lines by the Midleton men. Another foul at that juncture gave Midleton another free kick from which nothing was scored and the leather travelled quickly downwards once more. The kicking throughout was worthy of the high reputations of both teams and the boldness of attack and dexterity of defence displayed was quite a sight to see. A quarter of an hour’s play without scoring proved that two teams more evenly matched could not well be placed on the field. Killorglin got several good chances of scoring during the last quarter of an hour and the play was mostly in their favour during that time. Once a determined rush was blocked just at the goal-posts by the Midleton captain and a few good kicks by William Colbert and Jerry Leahy transferred the struggle into Rangers’ ground, where some excellent play was shown, Midleton being within an ace of scoring. From that till halftime was called, the Rangers were acting on the defensive, no scoring being made.

The Kerrymen opened the second half with a fine charge for goal and were repulsed at the posts. Midleton then took a hand and made a fierce incursion into Killorglin ground. They obtained a free owing to a foul on the part of one of the Rangers but the leather was only sent over the lines. Killorglin followed the kick-out right into Midleton ground and made a series of fine attacks on the posts, but were again repulsed and forced back to their territory where, after a fierce tussle, they were obliged to touch down and yield a free-kick from the forty yards mark to the Corkmen, who just missed scoring a point. The play during the remainder of the time may be shortly described as even and excellent. Both sides fought gamely and the most determined efforts to score from both sides appeared to be in vain. A few minutes before the close of the hour, the ball was burst and play had to be suspended, the match being, therefore, by consent, declared a draw.

Laune Rangers laboured under a great disadvantage, as one of their best men, *Jeremiah Hayes, got his leg broken at a very early stage of the game.

Laune Rangers: J. P O Sullivan (capt.), Patsy Sheehan (vice-captain), Tom Curran, Jim Curran, Tom Cronin, Maurice O Sullivan, John O Sullivan, Pat Teahan, Jeremiah Hayes, Patsy Begley, J. Clifford, Danny Clifford, Paddy O Regan, John Murphy, Dan Phil Murphy (Tullig, Beaufort), P. McCarthy, Thade O Connor, Moss O Brien, Dan O Neill. Sub: Dan Sugrue (Mitchels) for J. Hayes (inj.).

Midleton: James Power (capt.), Jeremiah Leahy (vice-capt.), Mick Coleman, John D. O Brien, Jim Fitzgerald, Maurice Hennessy, John Kennedy, P. Moore, William Colbert, William Kennedy, M. Buckley, William Buckley, William Twomey, Mike Moore, Denny Murphy, Jack Ahern, Michael Egan, Maurice Downey, Willie Hennessy,

Field Umpires: J. Cotter and W. Walsh.

Ref: Mr. John Sheehy (Limerick).


*Writing in the Kerryman of Sat. 9th Feb. 1929, Father John P. Devane, Florida, USA, recalled Jeremiah Hayes’ injury, as follows: “Withal, I think there is not one of the old Tralee Mitchels surviving but will agree with me that Hayes, of Killorglin, was (JP) O Sullivan’s superior in a football field. Hayes, with his unfailing white jersey, in a team of matchless blue, was like a star among the satellites. The poor fellow met with a fate that might be expected, for he was a marked man in every game. In the summer of 1890, the Rangers played Midleton of Cork, in Limerick, for the championship of Munster. The ball was not in play five minutes when Hayes, with one of his characteristic runs along the wing, advanced with the ball to the Midleton halfback. The Midleton player wildly drew in desperation and, after Hayes was carried off the field on a stretcher, it was discovered that his knee-cap had been kicked off. The best the Rangers could do after that was to get a draw.”


In the Kerryman of Sat. 23rd Feb. 1929, ‘A Laune Ranger’ elaborated on the above game as follows: “The best the Rangers could do after that (Hayes’ injury) was to get a draw’, which statement would leave the present-day footballers under the impression that the game was played the full time. Now, the game was not finished and, even after Hayes’ injury, the Rangers were pounding Midleton on their own line and had them completely on the defensive when, suddenly, as the ball was brought from the side-line, it was found to be punctured and, as there was no other ball on the field, play had to be suspended. Rumour, then, had it that the ball was punctured by design. Another remark and I am done, and it is this: That Tim Curran was one of the best fullbacks, if not the best, that the Gaelic Athletic Association has produced since its inception.”


*In a letter dated 31st October 1939, Father John P. Devane wrote to the Kerryman as follows, “The Limerick game was, unfortunately, the last one in which the redoubtable Hayes played, as his own original matchless self, though we did see him a few times afterwards playing as a cripple for the Milltown team, when he performed in a position as goalkeeper. Before the Limerick game, the story has it that Hayes was chatting gaily on the field of play with a few young ladies from Killorglin, with whom he was always exceedingly popular. Just then two or three of the Midleton players came up and inquired of him if he were the famous Hayes of whom they had heard so much. Realising that he was a marked man in every game, the poor fellow prevaricated and, denying his identity, pointed out some other player to them but his red head gave him away.

At all events, the game was in progress only a short time when Hayes, coming into possession, started one of his wonted advances with the ball along the right wing, when the Midleton halfback rushed up and, drawing at the ball, caused Hayes to be taken out of the game, with his knee-cap kicked off. We hate to think this was intentional and we don’t think it was. We are simply repeating the story as it was told at the time. The substitute player put in for Hayes was Dan Sugrue, of the Tralee Mitchels and, while Sugrue was a good, willing little player, he was not in Hayes’ class at all and so the game ended in a tie.”


Final (replay) on Sun. 19th Oct. at Banteer: Midleton 1-4; Laune Rangers 0-1.

The following details of the match were taken from the Cork Herald: “Killorglin were lucky in the toss and opened play with the breeze blowing into their posts. The leather first made an excursion into Killorglin territory but was immediately rushed down by the sidelines and over the Midleton lines. Midleton followed their kick-out in brilliant style and, the play became really fast and furious, both parties charging and retreating with a discipline and a knowledge of each other’s tactics begotten of many well-fought contests.

The Midleton men at last made a desperate rush and Egan, getting a handy kick at the right moment, sent the leather over the posts and gained the first point. Fine open play through the field followed, the Midleton territory being again invaded and an over scored by Killorglin within a few minutes. The Midleton posts were now fiercely assailed for some time but Captain Power was there and he saved his goal in his usual brilliant fashion. Up into Killorglin ground the leather travelled again, brilliant play from both sides being the order of the day. The gale, which now blew pretty strongly, was dead against the Cork team and the Rangers sent the leather down whenever they got a chance, their captain doing wonders in the line of rushing. However, the Midleton lads contrived to steal up again and, near the posts, a Killorglin man was guilty of tripping and a free kick was awarded to Midleton, from which a point was cleverly scored. Play of a character even more brilliant than that witnessed between the same teams at Limerick, followed this. The leather remained for several minutes in Killorglin ground and the Midleton men soon scored their third point. Killorglin then rushed straight across the field but failed to score and the fight was, soon after, around the Kerry posts. Halftime was whistled before anything further was done.

The second half opened with a charge into Killorglin territory, where, after a minute’s sharp play, a point was scored by the Cork Champions. Killorglin then put its best leg forward but failed to carry the leather farther than the middle of the field and they were again put on the defensive. With another fine effort, however, they came up, the athletic captain being worth a host in himself but his forwards, lacking skill, sent the leather several times over the lines when good chances of scoring presented themselves. The play, in Midleton territory, was quite exciting but Killorglin threw away their chances to a great extent by transgressing the rules, so that Midleton obtained a series of place kicks, which enabled them to transfer the battle into their opponents’ territory, where a goal was quickly scored. Indeed, the Killorglin defence appeared to be far weaker than at Limerick and, when closely pressed, they yielded with surprising ease. For the last five minutes, the play was almost entirely confined to Killorglin ground but, just before the call of time, the Kerry men forced it upwards and scored their point off a free kick. The whistle sounded and play was suspended with the Cork men as champions of Munster.”

Local folklore told that when the team reached the field in Banteer, the big iron gates were locked and nobody was making an effort to open them. Thade Connor (The Wren), Shanavalla, elected to jump the gate. J.P. O Sullivan advised him that he would leave his guts on it. However, he bounded across the road and cleared the gate.

This defeat of the Rangers cast a gloom over the whole county. It was only after numerous appeals that the teams affiliated in 1891.


Father Devane, from Tallahassee, Florida, wrote in the Kerryman on Sat. 27th April 1929 as follows: “The game, it might be truthfully stated, was really won before the ball was put in play, as the signs indicated to those who could read them. One circumstance, that contributed more than any other to the small margin of victory for the great Midleton team, was the excessively large size of the field of play, which was in our opinion wider than the length of the Tralee Sports-field and we do not know how many times as long. Everyone complained of that fact as not being conducive to good football. Though the report spread throughout the crowd that a protest from J.P. O Sullivan against the size of the field was the cause of the delay in starting the game, we were becoming more and more impatient for hostilities to begin and so, reluctantly, adjusted ourselves to the situation on the principle that  it was as good for the goose as it was for the gander. When the teams eventually lined up for action, it was once noticed that the personnel of the Midleton team was almost entirely changed since the match at Limerick, as that match, no doubt, convinced them that the Rangers were unbeatable in straight football. The game was not in progress ten minutes when everyone present must have caught the full   significance of the whole situation, for the new Midleton team showed a fleetness of foot that was admirably adapted to the size of the field.  (Paddy) O Regan, who was playing a wonderful game for Kerry, sized up this unexpected difficulty and threw off his shoes about the middle of the first half so as to be as light-footed as possible in coping with the situation. Early in the second half, wishing to be relieved of further superfluities, he discarded his blue jersey, leaving only his scapular to protect his back from the scorching sun. His admirable determination to win this hectic struggle deserved victory, but there were too many elements militating against this.

Poor, honest J.P. O Sullivan was virtually out of the game, for a little chap named Downey of Midleton was especially assigned the duty of keeping him prostrate on the ground, which task he executed with painful consistency by sneaking up on him in uncanny fashion and throwing himself around his feet, though the ball was a hundred yards away. We now can hear (John) Langford’s shouted exhortations to Sullivan ‘to kick the back out of the little d——.’ Only two of the five players borrowed from other Kerry teams for the occasion played up to form. The other three, though stars in their own teams, were completely adrift from the game that day. They simply did not fit in and could not get started, and so the Rangers suffered through lack of their wonted compactness and cohesion that invariably bore them to the big end of the score.”


Continuing his letter of 9th Feb. 1929, Father Devane wrote, “Some weeks later, the game was replayed in Banteer and poor Hayes was there but in crutches along the side-line. It was pitiable to see him hopping along, shouting encouragement to his team-mates as the Rangers were being beaten. The Rangers were never the same afterwards, for Hayes was permanently disabled, and so, as a deserved tribute, we take off our hat to the best player that was in the best team that Kerry ever produced.”


Continuing his letter of 31st Oct. 1939, Father Devane wrote, “Poor Hayes was at Banteer for the replay but only as a spectator, in crutches, next to the writer in the sidelines. He took the Rangers defeat very hard, as he continually shouted encouragement to them but this shouted encouragement was no adequate substitute for that all-conquering spirit his presence in a game injected into their play. The outstanding players that day were immortalised in verse by the bard of Killorglin. Downey of Midleton distinguished himself by adopting, to perfection, Garrett Landers’ style of blocking and so kept poor J. P O Sullivan flat on the ground most of the time. He was referred to by the poet as ‘Downey, that foxy gorsoon’. Of Hickey of Rathmore it was written, ‘Parallel to the sideline like lightning he went, independently bringing the ball to the front.’  


In a letter, dated 11th June 1941, Father Devane wrote, “Here may be a good place to correct a wrong impression we may have given some time ago when describing the famous match between Midleton and Laune Rangers at Banteer in 1890. In referring to the tactics used on that occasion by Downey of Midleton, we stated that he was so aggravating that three times long John Langford, in a black uniform, called across the field to J. P. O Sullivan to ‘kick the back out of the little divil.’ There was not, of course, a single man in the field that day, either among players or spectators, who would do that, though, no doubt, there were a few would be inclined to take a healthy swing at his jaw. Sullivan and Langford were not capable of either. If Langford did then shout, as he did, it was simply his way of lodging a vehement protest against the provoking tactics and, so to speak, make vicarious atonement to Sullivan. Very early in the game, it was obvious that Downey was acting under special orders and his principal concern was to keep Sullivan out of the game. With this purpose, he made it a practice of sneaking up on Sullivan from behind and, though the ball may be 50 or 60 yards away at the time, he would throw his body longitudinally forward, cutting Sullivan off at the knees and invariably poor Sullivan came down without a parachute, but not once did he lose his temper, if he did lose his equilibrium.”


In another letter to the Kerryman on Sat. 25th April 1942, Father Devane wrote, “the most tensely contested game that we have ever seen was the game between Laune Rangers and Midleton at Banteer. We cannot say that O Sullivan was the dominating figure of the match that day, for Downey of Midleton, evidently carrying out instructions, in a deliberate well-thought out plan of campaign, saw to it that J. P. lay prostrate on the ground every time the ball came within a hundred yards of him. Never before or since have we seen strategy on a football field executed with such cold, cunning, merciless precision as were the merciless tactics resorted to by Downey – the foxy gorsoon, on that occasion. From behind he would sneak up on O Sullivan and, propelling himself horizontally forward, would strike O Sullivan about the knees and chop him down. More than once, some of the spectators, in their disgust, joined with the leading Ranger in vociferating a vehement protest, but to no purpose and, through it all, O Sullivan uttered not a complaining word. If O Sullivan was not the dominating figure playing football that day, he surely played the part of the true Christian gentleman, for he exhibited remarkable patience and forbearance throughout the whole proceedings. The Currans (Tim, Tom and Jim), of course, as might be expected, played well, as also did (Pat) Teahan, (Jimmy) Doyle and the others, but the two dominating figures, in our opinion, were Captain Power of Midleton, and the redoubtable (Paddy) Regan of Killorglin. Early in the second half, we can now almost see poor Regan taking off his shoes, to change the complexion of the game, for it was going against the Rangers, as the Midleton players were fleet of foot and the field was unusually large. Some minutes later, he discarded his coveted blue jersey and, somehow, this buoyed up our hope but the tide refused to turn. Always in the thick of the fray, we had the supreme satisfaction of seeing Regan once duck when he caught the ball on the fly, as his opponent, bounding at him, alighted on his bare back and, straightening up, threw him to the ground, kick the heavy ball with his bare feet and scamper off after it again, with superb determination.

Though we never like to alibi a defeat, we feel we ought here to add a little incident to the reference made above to the unusually large size of the field that day. The incident took place some time before the game started and, for the time absorbed out attention, though we never associated it with a strategy to help Midleton. After leaving the train at Banteer, he hastened with the crowd to the field of play. When we arrived there, we noticed that the sideline to the right was pretty well crowded but very few people, very few, were on the left. Naturally, we headed for the left to take a position on the 30 yards line and, as we approached this location,, we noticed two men hastily removing the sideline posts and rope and putting them back about thirty yards at the very least. We wondered if they were local officials, for they certainly did not speak with that assurance of authority that always, and unmistakably, sticks out so officiously to tell us who is who, on such occasions. When they told us that we should line up along the new mark, they did so falteringly and, without measuring the width of this new corridor, which we thought was strange, they hastened along much faster than the pace set by Bulger and Roger Horan in their famous walking match for the championship of Ireland, or was it only Munster! At the time, we thought it inconceivable that the local committee in charge would let the marking out of the field go till the very last moment, when the people were assembling for such an important match, and, in those days, the ball was in play until it went in among the bystanders. Later, as the Midleton players took the field, we heard two or three spectators near us, who evidently had seen the Limerick game, express surprise and remark that the personnel of the Midleton team was to a very great extent different from that which had played in Limerick.

After the teams proceeded to line up, the beginning of the game was deferred about fifteen or twenty minutes, and rumour had it that J. P. O Sullivan was in some dispute with the officials. We have a faint recollection, too, that rumour gave the size of the field as the cause of this dispute but we are not sure about this. We are positive though about the other incidents narrated, though, of course, their interpretation is something else and we have no right to say positively that ours is the correct one. Anyway, it must be observed, that, in those days, standard size fields were not insisted on, so, at most, the incident referred to may be even regarded as something like good strategy. One thing we feel confident of is this, that the Midleton team would not be capable of anything dishonourable, even if an irresponsible camp follower would like to give them an advantage.”


The following verse, by the bard of Killorglin, immortalised the feats of the players in Banteer: (It is thought to have been composed by Cornelius O Shea, Knocknagowna, Faha, Killarney 1857 – 1926)

“In the month of October, let ye be aware,

As the sun was just rising, we all did prepare

To escort our bold Rangers and keep them in cheer

But alas it was useless that day in Banteer.


Excitement that morning there was a great deal

For the fast passing moments did clearly reveal

The puffing of engines, the prancing of steeds,

And the marching of thousands of different creeds.


Oh! Where were those thousands bound for that day?

Or what was their motive for such a display?

Was it to emancipate Ireland once more

And drive all the tyrants away from our shore?


It was not to emancipate Ireland once more

Nor to drive her cruel tyrants away from her shore.

But it was to see forty-two heroes of fame

With skill and with courage playing out their drawn game.


On approaching the venue to which we were going,

My breast with emotion was soon overflowing.

I thought on old Ireland’s past glories and pride,

And I thought of the chieftain on whom she relied.


I thought that O Connell had risen again

To rend our diabolical fetters in twain,

To lean on our patriots whom we loved well

O Brien, John Dillon and Charles Parnell.


I thought that bold Henry Grattan was there

And with his thunder-toned tongue did declare

That the green flag of Erin very soon would be seen

Independently waving o’er famed College Green.


But I was mistaken that day at Banteer,

Neither O Connell nor Grattan that day did appear.

They were better employed in the Mansion above

Giving glory to God whom we ardently love.


To proceed any further, I’m not much inclined,

My romantic story I must leave behind.

For I know very well you are all waiting to hear

The result of the battle that day at Banteer.


All are now ready, keep out of the way,

The Rangers are coming in splendid array,

With O Sullivan before them in military style,

And his fine open countenance wearing a smile.


Such a fine band of men, sure you’ve never laid eyes on,

From the giant-like captain to the very last man,

Their symmetrical form and gentle physique

And a beautiful blush ornamented their cheeks.


But you may be sure they were struck with surprise

When they saw coming towards them those Midleton boys.

With jubilant faces so modest and bright

Like so many angels in jerseys of white,


They saluted the Rangers with voices so clear

Saying, ‘ye’re heartily welcome this day to Banteer.

Ye are champions of Kerry, but we’ll let ye see

The conquerors of Munster ye never will be.’


The time before action, it now had expired,

The spectators all to the sideline retired,

While some, the more active, enjoyed the fresh breeze

By climbing, like monkeys, the drooping ash trees.


The signal being given, each man did prepare

And the ball, with a tip, was sent into the air.

It was grasped in a moment, and manfully too,

By a stout hearted Ranger in a jersey of blue.


Those heroes rushed forward with main and with might,

Independently driving the ball towards the height,

Onwards, still onwards the leather did roll,

Apparently threatening the Midleton goal.


But those Midleton fellows did not give a cent,

Fellows I call them, but not with contempt.

They guarded their standard and, it can’t be denied,

The rush of the Rangers they proudly defied.


The Midleton boys to the ball were well trained

In less than ten minutes the first leg was sprained.

Each man did his work without being put about

But the red-haired gorsoon* beat the devil all out.


He fought in the front, he fought in the rear,

And in fact, like a ghost, he was seen everywhere.

His glory was modest, his temper was sweet,

Success may attend you, young red-haired athlete.


For the first twenty minutes, some say it was true,

The Rangers were puzzled, not knowing what to do.

Surrounded, confounded and now I must say

They were like hungry tigers devouring their prey.


When the match it was raging, young Hickey** at last,

For the glory of Kerry through the centre he passed

Parallel to the sideline like lightning he went

Independently driving the ball to the front.


They stormed the goal-posts, they did it surround,

But the Cork men like bull-dogs fought well for the ground.

They firmly stood like a rampart of brass,

Like the bold Spartan band at Hermila Pass.


When the match it was over, the referee he said,

‘A goal and four points you have honestly made.’

The Rangers are beaten, their colours lowered down

By those Midleton gorsoons of fame and renown.

* Downey of Midleton.

** Con Hickey from Rathmore.


Father John P. Devane, in a letter printed in the Kerryman on Sat. 29th June 1940, wrote, “It has been our experience frequently to notice excited crowds at baseball games and on other occasions, but, for intensity of enthusiasm, we have never seen anything to equal such a display, as we saw at the railway station, Killarney, the Sunday the Rangers were travelling to Banteer to play their match with Midleton. Everybody was there and everybody was shouting and calling to someone in a crowd that was compacted together like sardines. A few called for the Rangers to put in an appearance and three or four stuck their heads out the window but that was no signal for an outburst of cheering for the emotions of the people were already keyed up to the highest pitch and there was no such thing as venting those emotions for the very atmosphere was surcharged with them already. For a few moments, O Sullivan left the train and pushed his way through that throng of people, about four yards, to speak with some friend, but there was no extra commotion, though his fine manly frame, above the others, gave a very appropriate touch in the picture.”


In a letter, which appeared in the Kerryman on 26th Oct. 1940, Father John P. Devane wrote as follows: “While in a reminiscent mood after our trip to Ireland in 1928, we took occasion to get into the discussion that was then running in ‘The Kerryman’ anent the greatest Kerry players of all time. We made our pick from the old Laune Rangers and put forward Hayes of Killorglin in the forefront.

Some years later, we were spending a few weeks’ vacation in Brooklyn and said Mass every morning in St. Michael’s Church of which Monsignor Cherry was pastor. Shortly before our vacation was up, the good Monsignor had occasion to get a new housekeeper, whose name was Miss Hayes. Just as we were about to leave, she asked us if we knew a Father Devane in Florida. Informing her she was just then addressing the very same individual in person, she inquired of us further if it were from our pen that an article about her father escaped and found place in the columns of the Kerryman. ‘Who is your father?’ we asked. ‘Jer Hayes of Killorglin,’ she answered. When we told her that such was our pleasure, she insisted on us staying over for another meal, ‘for,’ said she, ‘I want to knowingly serve the priest who wrote that article about my poor father.’


Midleton went on to win the All-Ireland by beating Wexford’s Blues and Whites, on the score of 2-4 to 0-1, in Clonturk Park on June 20th 1892.




Peter J. Kelly (An Ghaillimh) was Uachtarán CLG.

The Annual Convention of the GAA took place in Thurles on 27th Nov. Maurice Moynihan, Kerry, was elected Hon. Secretary of the Association.


The fourth Annual Congress of the GAA was held in Thurles on 6th Nov. 1889. It was noted that, due largely to clerical opposition to the Association, 13 counties refused to accept the authority of Central Council and a further 6 counties had insufficient clubs to form a county committee. These were ominous signs that a slump in the Association’s fortunes was at hand. Kerry was represented by Thomas Slattery, Maurice Moynihan and J. P. O Sullivan.


Thomas Slattery was President of the Kerry Co. Board and Maurice Moynihan was Secretary.


The following appeal appeared in the Kerry Sentinel in Jan. 1890: “The Hurling and Football championships for 1890 will be commenced early in February and any team, ambitious to make a respectable show in the County contests, should lose no time in getting into form. The Laune Rangers practically ran away with the football championship of the county last year and even went within an aim’s ace of securing All-Ireland medals. But, though the Killorglin men are really splendid players and have lost nothing of their old dash, there is no reason to believe that Kerry does not possess, in the background, football talent which, if properly developed, would not be second to that displayed by the Rangers. It should be remembered that the Association was only in its infancy last year in this county and, considering that comparative small number of teams engaged and the science, which was displayed, it is only logical to expect great things during the coming season.

The Rangers, it is true, have gained a certain prestige, which has a sort of demoralising effect on the less plucky clubs, but it should be borne in mind that faint heart never came victorious out of the football field. There is another matter, also, which, though it may not be very deep philosophy, is at all events useful to remember. Only one team can come first, and, while the aim of every club should be to occupy that enviable and envied position, it is important to know that there are degrees of merit and no effort should be spared to be as near the summit as possible.

Moreover, it is not improbable that the Kerry Co. Board will be in a position, and will see fit to give, second prizes in the football championship this year. This, in reality, would be but simple justice and it should be found to be a policy that would work admirably. It would, of course, be a great inducement to the different clubs, and the contest for second place could not escape being interesting. It is a fault peculiar to many individuals as well as to clubs, that, seeing no fair prospect of becoming champions, they throw up the game in disgust. Such is not the stuff, however, of which those who succeed are made. The word ‘perseverance’ should be written large in every club room and those who make it their motto will not be found far from the van.

A general apathy seems to pervade the clubs of the county at present, which is difficult to understand, except in the hypothesis that they are having a little relaxation after the numerous matches played during the summer and autumn or that they are, so to speak, backing for a leap. Be that as it may, it is high time that this lethargy was conquered and that the teams should go into hard training. A meeting of the Co. Board to arrange for the first ties cannot be far distant and it will be late to don the jerseys when the fixtures are announced.”


The draws for the Co. Championship took place at the Co. Board meeting on Wed. 19th Feb., at which Laune Rangers were represented by J. P. O Sullivan.


A challenge game between Laune Rangers and Lee Rovers (Cork) had been arranged for February, but it had to be cancelled due to influenza and inclement weather.


On Sun. 16th March 1st Round of the Co. Championship at Killorglin: Tuogh 0-6; Milltown 0-0.

Ref: Pat Teahan – acquitted himself to the satisfaction of all.

Aghadoe 1-3; Keel 0-2

During the game, the Aghadoe captain, having tripped an opponent, was sent to the line. Having served the time of his suspension, he returned and disagreed when the referee, J. P. O Sullivan, penalised him for taking the ball directly off the ground. Keel left the field. A series of objections then followed, with the decision finally going to Keel, who failed to appear for the re-fixture at Killorglin. Keel later apologised to the Co. Board and ‘courteous’ Laune Rangers.


March 30th at Killorglin, Co. Championship: Dr. Crokes drew with Cahersiveen (O Connell’s).

Ref: Pat Teahan.

Dr. Crokes won the replay by 1-6 to 0-0 at Killorglin but, after an objection, the match was again re-fixed for Killorglin but Killarney failed to show and the match was awarded to Cahersiveen.


On Sat. 30th Aug. a special meeting of the Central Council of the GAA took place in the Mansion House, Dublin, to discuss the debts of the Association. J. P. O Sullivan, Laune Rangers, represented Kerry.


In the 1890 Dublin Castle files, JP O Sullivan, together with other members of the Kerry Co. Board, was deemed to be associated with the IRB (Irish Republican Brotherhood).


Athletics Meetings


The Valentia Athletic Sports, under the Gaelic rules, were held on Mon. 25th Aug. in a commodious field south of the offices of the Anglo-American Cable Company. There were fifteen events on the programme, some were open to the public and some confined to the local membership.

100 yards Handicap – Maurice O Sullivan, Killorglin, came second in his heat and qualified for the final.

Long-jump – J. P O Sullivan was the winner with a jump of 20 ft. 6 ins. J. O Brien, Killorglin, also competed.

120 yards Hurdle Handicap – J. P. O Sullivan was the winner.

One Mile Handicap – Maurice O Sullivan, Killorglin, was the winner.

Hop, Step and Jump – J. P O Sullivan was the winner with 47 ft. 3 ins.

16lb Shot – J. P. O Sullivan was the winner with a throw of 33 ft. 6 ins. The prize was a luncheon basket.

120 yards Handicap – J. P O Sullivan finished third.

High Jump – J. P. O Sullivan and A. Bennett, Tralee, jumped 4 ft. 11 ins. And, on the toss of a coin, O Sullivan was declared the winner.

56lb Shot – Pat Teahan, Killorglin, competed unsuccessfully.

100 yards Consolation race – D. J. O Brien, Killorglin, was the winner.


The All-round Athletic Championship of Ireland took place at Ballsbridge on Sat. 30th Aug. by the Irish Amateur Athletic association. (That was the second such Championship – the first was promoted by ‘Sport’ under the auspices of the GAA in 1888). There were ten events in the competition, long jump, high jump, slinging 56lbs, 100 yards, putting 16lh. shot, 120 yards hurdles, running hop, step and jump, throwing the 16lb hammer, 440 yards and mile flat. Tom Donovan, Queen’s College, Cork won the event with 28 points, Dan Bulger was second with 22 points and J.P. O Sullivan was third with 19 points. J.P. was the only one of the nine competitors who qualified in all ten events, and his record was two firsts, two seconds, three thirds and three times unplaced.


Wed. 3rd Sept. – the Co. of Kerry Amateur Athletic and Cricket Club Sports were held in Tralee. JP O Sullivan maintained his well known repute as an athlete and, as usual, carried off most of the prizes. In the running hop, step and jump (or two hops and a jump), he cleared 49ft 6ins or six and a half inches short of the world’s record. Having won 1st place, he received a prize of a tea-pot.

Long Jump – 2nd JP O Sullivan (20ft 5.5 ins). Prize – keyless watch. DJ O Brien, Killorglin, also competed.

Throwing the Hammer – 1st JP O Sullivan (107ft 9ins). Prize – dressing case.

120 yards Hurdle Race (open handicap) – 1st JP O Sullivan. Prize – biscuit tin.

JP O Sullivan also competed in the 100 yards flat race, while DJ O Brien competed in the 100 yards flat race and Maurice O Sullivan (Killorglin) came in 2nd place in the one mile flat race.


Wed. 24th Sept. – the Killorglin Gaelic Sports were held in the Laune Rangers club grounds, about a mile from the town. This was the second annual meeting organised by the club. There were sixteen items on the programme. Some crack athletes turned up, such as O Connor and Carver from Ballyclough, Roche of Doneraile, O Sullivan from Banteer and his namesake from Killorglin. The handicapper and starter for the main events was Frank B. Dineen, Limerick. James McCrohan was the referee. The judges were Pat Teahan, JD Foley (Anglont), J. Cotter and R. A. Dodd. The time-keepers were Pat Teahan, H. Spotiswoode and M. O Brien. The call-stewards were P. Sheehan and P. P. O Sullivan and the Hon. Sec. was William O Brien. J. P O Sullivan did the handicapping for the club races with much capability, as the close finishes in each case clearly demonstrated.

Hammer Throwing (from a seven feet circle) – J. P. O Sullivan won the first prize of a cruet stand. Pat Teahan and Jeremiah Hayes also competed.

100 yards club handicap – 1st Moss O Brien (3 yards), 2nd Pat Hurley (5 yards). The other competitors were D. Coleman (scratch), Jeremiah Hayes (do.), Maurice O Sullivan (5 yards), Pat Teahan (7 yards), Paddy O Regan (4 yards) and P. O Reilly (6 yards). The first prize was a Gladstone Bag and the second prize was an ink-stand.

Half Mile Handicap – J. L. O Sullivan (30 yards), Killorglin, unsuccessfully competed.

16lb Shot – J. P O Sullivan was second with a shot of 37 ft.

Slinging 56lb Shot (from stand, no follow) – J. P. O Sullivan and Pat Teahan unsuccessfully competed.

Hop, step and jump – J. P O Sullivan, with a jump of 47 ft. 5 ins., won the first prize of carvers.

Long Jump – J. P O Sullivan, with a jump of 20 ft. 5 ins. won the first prize of an Accordion.

220 yards handicap – D. O Brien, Killorglin, won the first prize of a Cover Dish. J. P O Sullivan (8 yards) fell a few yards from the starting post.

220 yards club handicap – P. O Reilly (15 yards), in a time of 25 seconds, won the first prize of Hot Water Jug, Pat Hurley (12 yards) won second prize of an ink stand. Other competitors were D. Coleman (scratch), W. O Brien (7 yards), Paddy O Regan (8 yards).

440 yards handicap – J. P O Sullivan (20 yards), in a time of 54 seconds, won the first prize of a Tea Service.

One Mile Handicap – Maurice O Sullivan, Killorglin (50 yards), won the first prize of a Salad Bowl.

120 Yards Hurdle Handicap – J. P O Sullivan (6 yards) won the cup.

200 Yards Boys’ Race – William Dodd, Killorglin claimed the second prize of a medal.

The prizes were presented by Father Lawlor P. P.

This Sports Meeting took place four days before the Munster Final, Laune Rangers versus Midleton.