Tralee Parnells First Adult Silverware since 1919

It is said that even the longest journey begins with a single step.  A major milestone in the journey that is the second coming of Tralee Parnells, was reached on Saturday at the Under 21 Championship Final. But the first small steps on the long road may have been taken back in Killeen around 2007, when a few parents on the sidelines of Na Gaeil under 8 and 10 football training, approached Maurice Lawlor of Causeway who was to be seen pucking a sliotar and encouraging others to bring along their hurleys and join him.  Soon Maurice, Dermot Reen, Dr. Tim Horgan, Ger O’Brien, Séamus Cadogan, Mike Roger O Sullivan and a few other parents had organised hurling training for the youngsters and word spread quickly.  Over the following seasons the club fielded teams and the numbers of the young hurlers were swelled by very welcome recruits from other local football clubs including a strong Ballymac contingent.  The mentor numbers also increased, with parents including Agnes Sheehy, Martin Lowe, Ann O’Loughlin, Aidan Dunne, Denise Burns and many others volunteering to help get this initiative off the ground, strongly supported also by the Tralee underage Hurling Academy run at IT Tralee by then GDA John Tweek Griffin. A watershed moment arrived in 2012 when the County Board and Munster Council launched a new club to cater for all of the town and so, like a Phoenix from the ashes, Tralee Parnells was reborn. Prior to the first AGM, the hurling parents and mentors at Na Gaeil under their chair Dermot Reen voted unanimously to join the new club and bring with them the thriving underage academy of both Camogie and Hurling players.

In Dromakee on Saturday many of the players who togged out for the very first Parnells underage teams in 2012 and 2013, returned to the fray, this time as young men determined to do everything in their power to drive their growing club on to the next level, drawing on the training, development and preparation of the previous 15 years.  There were two unfortunate changes to the published starting team. Brian Lonergan sustained broken fingers in a Cork vs Kerry challenge hurling match last week  and another stalwart among our dual players Enda O’Connor, had to reluctantly make the very difficult decision to sit this one out, with Na Gaeil due to face Derry opposition in the upcoming All Ireland Club Intermediate Semi Final.  So with Johnny Lowe dropped back to the corner, Darragh Moloney taking his place on the half back line, Jack Doyle coming in on the half forward line, Tadhg Reen moved to center forward and Jerome Daly drafted in to mid field, the ball was thrown in shortly before 2:30 on a calm dry overcast day.  Austin Stack Park being unfortunately unavailable they were playing on a recently redeveloped pitch benefitting from the dry spell and in very good shape for mid January.

Crotta were seen by many observers as favourites, with the bulk of this squad having won County Minor medals not many years previously and having overcome a strong Abbeydorney side, coming from behind to claim a hard fought win on their journey to the final.  Parnells had also overcome adversity to get to this stage, needing extra time to overcome both Ballyduff and Ballyheigue.  It would be interesting to see if the fitness that stood to them in the latter stages of those games, would be a factor on the biggest day.  It was the home side who had the better of a low scoring first quarter.   At the first sos uisce, Crotta led by two points 0-04 to 0-02, with two Crotta Points points from Cillian Trant and one apiece courtesy of Rory Mahony and Cormac White. The visitor tally was two well taken placed balls from Darragh Reen who drew fouls all day on several of the many occasions when he looked threatening in attack. Reen added two more converted frees to his tally in the second quarter, and also combined with Ruarí O Sullivan on a run from defence that saw the wing back finish with a point from a central position. One difference between the teams in the first half was handling, with their first touch letting Parnells down more often than was the case for the opposition. With a further point plus a Denis Nolan goal, it was Crotta who went in to the dressing rooms happier on a one goal half time lead of 1-5 to 0-5.

Crotta were the better side after the interval and had increased the gap to lead at the second water-break by 1-09 to 0-07, with Darragh Reen again putting two frees over the bar to increase his tally and give the townies some glimmer of hope. Both teams had a number of wides, but the gap in the score was increasing and things were starting to look ominous for the side chasing their first adult silverware in over a century. Graham Sheehy and Niall Fitzmaurice came in for younger players Niall Cassidy and Jerome Daly and both of those young players will be looking forward to the 2022 Championship, having each put in a strong shift in their time on the field. The dynamic of the game changed in the fourth quarter, with positional switches in the Parnells forwards and the unfortunate ankle injury sustained by home fullback the influential Tadgh McKenna. Luke Chester switched to the attack, having been a key part of the Parnells defence in the earlier stages. His movement, combined with the new attacking options presented by Graham Sheehy and Niall Fitzmaurice, were a stronger test for the Crotta backs than they had faced heretofore and with Tadhg Brick and other Parnells defenders also foraging forward in some of the surges, it all began to take a toll on the defenders who showed increasing signs of fatigue and cramp. The Parnells fitness seemed to give them more space to work with in the Crotta half by this stage. When Darragh Reen finally found the net for the visitors the gap was reduced to three points and the travelling supporters were left to wonder was this a turning point, or had the fightback come too late in the game. Na Gaeil footballer Reen then added another point and a further onslaught saw him move into a dangerous position left of the square, but instead of taking on the defender and keeper, he smartly found Luke Chester moving forward on his right with a brilliant pass that the Stacks man buried, to move Parnells into the lead via their second green flag, for the first time in the game, with the clock ticking inexorably towards the red of time added on for stoppages.

Jubilation turned to tension among the visiting contingent of supporters, as the home side endeavored to turn the tables again. Play surged from end to end with several missed chances by both teams and it was a roar of relief as much as joy that echoed around the ground when the long whistle finally signaled the conclusion of an epic battle. There were ecstatic scenes of celebration as the Tralee Parnells players and fans experienced a cathartic release of pent up emotion. It had been a long road to this point for these players and their families and an even longer wait for the town of Tralee to see it’s first Parnells adult silverware since the halcyon early years wins in 1918/19. A gap of 103 years had been bridged and the relief and joy on all the faces was palpable. This achievement is testament to the hard work and dedication of these young men, brilliantly mentored by their management team of Andrew Morrisey, Pip and Tim Kelliher, supported by club officers and volunteers. There is plenty more work to be done by this panel to fulfil their next ambition of going the final step in the County Intermediate Hurling competition. But with the displays we saw from across the panel, through Tadhg Brick and Eddie Sheehy on the back line, bolstered by Luke Barrett, Ruarí O Sullivan and Luke Chester in front of them, the leadership in the forwards by captain Darragh Reen and echoed by so many of his team mates, the future looks bright indeed, for this coming force in the long and storied history of Kerry hurling.



Tralee Parnells players as listed in the match programme; Robin Porter, Enda O’Connor, Tadhg Brick, Eddie Sheehy, Ruarí O Sullivan, Luke Barrett, Johnny Lowe, Cathal Dunne, Tadgh Reen, Darragh Moloney, Brian Lonergan, Niall Cassidy, Cillian Litchfield, Darragh Reen, Luke Chester, Barry Lyons, Conor Brick, Graham Sheehy, Jack Doyle, Jerome Daly, martin Savage, Brian Hamilton, Daire Keane, Niall Fitzmaurice. Managers Ronan Pip Gilsenan and Andrew Morrisey. Selector Tim Kelliher.
Tralee Parnells Under 12s in Croke Park 2013. How many of these faces were in Dromakee?


The 1918/19 Era


Tweek Griffin has Paudie Butler at IT Tralee to help develop the fledgling Hurling Academy

Agus sin conas a chríochnaigh lá stairúil, i scéal aiseirí Na Pairnéalaigh Thrá Lí.  An Rud is annamh is íontach, de réir an tseanfhocail.  Ach ag breachaint síar go réim an Pairnéalach féin, ag teacht go criochnú an naoú chéad déag, núair a tháining aiseirigh i scéal fada Éireann, ni deireadh a tháinig ag an am sin, ach tús núa i nglúiseacht an tír.  Ag éisteacht leis an méid a bhi á rá ag an captaen ins na hagallaimh tar éis an comórtas, ní chríochnach atá againn anois.  Ní tús aon críochnach atá ann.  Ach bfhéidir go bhfuilimíst ábalta a rá, go bhfuil deireadh taghta leis an tús nua.

Read more about our ongoing journey, this time on the Camogie side of the house …
By protraleeparnells Mon 28th Feb