Last Wednesday ( Sept. 23rd) County Kerry again won the All Ireland Sam Maguire Football Cup.
Here in Chicago, All Ireland veterans like Dan Brennan of Kerry watched the triumph with his daughters at Gaelic Park, Kerrymen working in all the trades parked Jack Desmond's Pub on Ridgeland or the Goal Post on 95th Street to witness what was believed to be the best Kerry Team in decades defeat Rebel Cork.
Tens of thousands spilled onto the streets of Tralee and Killarney to welcome home the conquering heroes on Monday with thousands more in Glenbeigh for captain Darran O'Sullivan's return on Tuesday night. All of them were there for one reason only: To tell this extraordinary group of players how much they mean to their county.
The Ó Sés, the O'Sullivans, the Walshs, the Gooch, the Star, Aidan O'Mahony, Diarmuid Murphy, Seamus Scanlon, Killian Young, Tommy Griffin, Bryan Sheehan, the returning heroes of Mike Mac, Paul Galvin and Tadhgie and a host of other names of this, and recent years, carry the fire as the sportsmen of a new century for the Kingdom. Their journey with Sam through the county continued in Glenbeigh on Tuesday night, with Listowel confirmed for Friday night at the time of going to press. FOR so long now this close-knit group of Kerry footballers have been questioned. They have given their answers on many occasions: all culminating with Sam Maguire crossing the county bounds again.
They are tremendous. Kerry selector Ger O'Keeffe knows what it was like to be part of the 'Golden Years' team of 1975-1986. It was he who said that this generation are "the best we have ever had." Coming from someone from the era of the 'Golden Years' that is some accolade. And who would argue with him? Kerry's recent history was kickstarted in 1997 as Páidí Ó Sé and Maurice Fitzgerald reclaimed Sam after an 11-year absence. Twelve years on and five more All-Ireland titles have been annexed. This current side have just contested their sixth All-Ireland final in a row, winning four, and have just become the best team in Ireland for the fifth time this decade.