By Tommy O’Connor (1997)
The fact that Asdee never had a GAA playing pitch until recent years does not mean that this area did not make any contribution to Gaelic games. On the contrary, Asdee has a proud tradition of involvement with the GAA from the earliest times – and at the highest level too. Down through the years it has contributed many giants in the field of Gaelic Football.
Away back in 1913 one of the classiest players ever to grace Croke Park, or Jones’ Road as it was then, was an Asdee man, the late Jack Moriarty. Jack won the prestigious medal when he played in the Croke Memorial – a medal that is now in the safe keeping of his grandnephew Sean Doran.
Another outstanding footballer of that era was the late Fr. Joseph O’Connor. Jack and Fr. Joseph, as he was affectionately known, were inseparable friends and they played many games together. They also trained and practiced their place kicking skills together, usually in King’s field in Littor Road. They aimed for the highest standards and they attained them as the following incident proves.
Straight across the road from King’s field was the home and workplace of the popular tailor Gorman. On a summer’s evening the tailor would be sitting at his table sewing with the window open. He’d have an eye on Jack and Fr. Joseph playing their football. He had to because to test their skill with the placed ball they’d shoot for the open window – the tailor would catch the ball and throw it out to them again. They never missed – never broke a pane of glass. Fr. Joseph played a lot of his football with Dublin as he was domiciled there.
A neighbor of Jack Moriarty’s was also to attain great stardom in a career spanning many years. He was of course, the great and legendary Jack Walsh, and isn’t it only fitting that this new first class playing pitch should be named after him. Jack won six All-Ireland medals with Kerry. Also with an all Kerry team he won a Railway cup medal with Munster in 1927, on a score line of Munster 2-3, Connacht 0-5. Doesn’t that speak for the standard of Kerry football then?
His collection also includes 10 Munster championship medals and of course many smaller trophies to complete an illustrious career by any standard. His brother Denis was also an accomplished footballer and played in the green and gold. His brother Dick was also a fine footballer. More recently his nephew, the popular Craughdarrig publican, Michael Walsh, also donned the green and gold.
Continuing the glory trail for Kerry and Asdee came the O’Donoghue brothers, Paudie and the late Eamon. Paudie manned the full back position for Kerry with distinction, while Eamon was rated as one of the great wing forwards of the game. They each won two senior All-Ireland medals with Kerry in 1969 and 1970. Paudie also won at minor and under 21 levels.
Then in the 80’s another stylish player burst upon the scene. He is of course village of Asdee man John Kennedy. John had the great ability to pick off points from far out the field – his accuracy was a beauty to behold. He won three All-Ireland medals back to back with Kerry in 1984, 1985 & 1986.
Then we had outstanding Kerry minors born in Asdee as well, John Ryan, Donal Kissane, Thomas Sheehy and Eamon Hennessy.
So for a small community Asdee has given to the GAA players of the highest claibre – names that will endure forever in the annals of football lore.
So let us look back with pride and forward with confidence that with this great facility of the new pitch, many more will follow in their footsteps and glory days will come again.