A sun-filled Saturday all over West Kerry ensured the over 600 participating players in the Lidl sponsored Comórtas Peile Páidí Ó Sé were going to be in high spirits regardless of results on the field of play. 1,800 bed nights were created by the visiting teams from 13 different counties, England and the United Arab Emirates which meant the town of Dingle and the entire Peninsula was packed to capacity, with bus and taxi drivers burning diesel as they ferried teams from match to social event and back again.
Now in its 28th year, there is far-reaching and unwaning enthusiasm among clubs to experience the famed Gaelic football festival. Closer to home, more and more Kerry clubs want to be involved which was borne out with debutants Waterville and Valentia Island making an appearance this year, with the Islanders taking home silverware.
Kerry clubs took home two of the six available adult men’s and ladies cups across junior, intermediate and senior grades which took place in Tralee and various West Kerry GAA grounds over Saturday and Sunday.
The weekend, also supported by Grant Thornton, Lee Strand Milk, Kerry County Council and Failte Ireland, also had a unique John B Keane pub theatre event hosted by Billy Keane and included performances by famed songwriter Micky McConnell, Moyvane poet Gabriel Fitzmaurice and also a cameo sing along from former Republic of Ireland manager Eoin Hand, now a resident in Moyvane.
Pádraig Óg. Ó Sé was delighted with Comortas 2017, “The weather helped on Saturday and we were proud to show off the beauty of the area to the visiting players who were quick to share images and videos of their experiences on Twitter. There were no serious injuries and everybody conducted themselves well at all our social events. The co-operation of the local GAA clubs was fantastic with volunteers all rowing in to make sandwiches or a cup of tea for visiting team . That leaves a very good taste in the mouth and no doubt it will ensure future trips to the Peninsula by some of these players again for a holiday.”
It was mixed fortunes for the Kerry sides in the Dermot Earley senior mens cup with Denis Dwyer managed Waterville, Milltown/Castlemaine and Dingle all being wiped aside. However, hosts An Gaeltacht went all the way to Sunday’s final against a well oiled Newbridge Sarsfields after seeing off Laois’s Stradbally and Milltown/Castlemaine. It was the hosts, who lined out with centre back Ó Sé and Riverdancer and former Kerry minor Tomas Ó Sé at corner forward, that came out of the blocks quicker with four unanswered points before Sarsfields fought their way back into it leaving it 0-5 to 0-8 at half time in favour of the hosts. The second half was a one-sided affair as An Ghaeltacht landed two early goals from Shane Ó Griffin and PJ Hand. Sarsfields, led by former Kildare county star Gary White, did manage a spurt towards the end with two goals of their own but An Ghaeltacht piled on the points to end the final with a comfortable victory on a scoreline of An Ghaeltacht 2-20 to Newbridge Sarsfields 2-7.
In The Boars Head intermediate mens cup, Mid Kerry’s Keel overcame Lispole and Meath’s Dunderry to book their place in the final in Gallarus against up and coming Cork and Duhallow side Knocknagree who had beaten St. Johns of Sligo and Anascaul in their path to the final. In wet and slippy conditions, Keel were on the back foot for much of the half but managed one from play and two frees to leave the half time score 1-5 to 0-3. However, Knocknagree, under the stewardship of the outspoken manager John Fenton Daly, proved too stong overall for the Mid Kerry side with centre forward Anthony O’Connor, the Comórtas Laoch An Deireadh Seachtaine, helping himself to 2-5 in the second half alone. The final score was Knocknagree 3-14 to Keel’s 0-10.
In the Junior men’s cup South Kerry’s Valentia Island, new comers to the Comórtas, beat Cork’s Ballinacurra to meet Shannon Gaels of Cavan in the Junior men’s Cup final. No less than seven goals were scored in the final which took place in Connolly Park, Tralee but Valentia, who have not won silverware in recent years, poached a few goals in the second half which made the difference leaving four between them with the final score 4-9 to 3-8.
In the senior ladies cup there were no Kerry representatives with 2016 Dublin league champions Ballyboden St Enda’s beating Leinster Club Championship quarter-finalists Stabannon Parnells of Louth in the final in Pobalscoil Dingle on a scoreline of 4-8 to 2-10.
Corca Dhuibhne Ladies reached the intermediate final beating last year’s winners Burrishoole of Mayo and Clonakilty on the way. On the other side of this six team competition, Naomh Abán of Baile Bhuirne took Na Gaeil and Clonakilty to make it a Cork Kerry final. Corca Dhuibhne, heading into their third game of the day looked tired and couldn’t manage a single point in the game but there was nothing wrong with their goal taking ability as they lifted the green flag four times, two in each half. However, Naomh Aban got two goals of their own and managed to keep the minimum between them right to the end, winning by a point with the final score Corca Dhuibhne 4-0 to Naomh Abán 2-7.
In the Junior Cup four team competition, Kerry side Clounmacon Ladies lost in the first round to John Mitchels of Liverpool (6-9 to 1-3) but Dingle Ladies, white-washing Lucan Sarsfields (6-11 to 1-1) along the way, did make it to the final. However, the West Kerry side ran out of steam and were overwhelmed by the visiting Liverpool Ladies who impressed all who watched by dispatching five goals in the junior final to win convincingly by 5-9 to 3-2. In the runners up Junior Plate Final Clounmacon managed to take one victory from the day against Lucan Sarsfields beating them 6-7 to 1-5.