From 1962 until his inter county retirement in 1978, this unique Sligo footballer carried a big responsibility to haul his team on to the scoreboard in practically every game he played for the county seniors. Sligo had other fine footballers too, but Mickey was always the scoring machine that the fans could rely upon.
Sligo were not in the top brackets when expectations were valued before the commencement of the annual Connacht senior football championship, let alone in the reckoning for All Ireland honours.
Mickey became a national football icon despite his counties obscurity from provincial and national honours. That can only be achieved by the players who are extremely dedicated and proficient in the finer skills of the game. Exiting from the provincial championships in the opening rounds denied players, such as Mickey, the opportunity to go on the bigger stages. It was courtesy of the National League and Railway Cup that presented all the major opportunities for players from the minnow counties to make their mark. Mickey Kearns is one of many such legends from the minnow football counties of Ireland.
Life began around Dromard, Co. Sligo, in 1943 and he inherited a love of football from his father, who also pulled on the famed white and black strip of Sligo on a few occasions. Schooling was completed at St. Muredach’s College, Ballina and upon completion of his studies he went into the family cattle dealing business. From now on and for over three decades playing and refereeing gaelic football matches, consumed his life.
Prior to Mickey’s profile reaching such high standards, only a select few players from Sligo had become national household names but the general consensus is that Sligo fans put Mickey Kearns before all others. His first club was St. Patricks of Dromard who in the 1950's were a junior football club and the county junior football title was won in 1964.
With no intermediate football grade the club went to senior ranks in 1965 and annexed their first senior county title in 1968 and that renowned team was coached by the maestro himself. On that team also were his brothers James, Peadar and Noel. A further four senior titles came to Dromard in 1970/71/73/74 to provide Mickey with five county senior football medals to add to two more acquired when playing for Ballisodare in 1963 and 1964. Also in his collection are two county junior medals.
His inter county career began at minor grade in 1960 and in 1961 he played National Football League and made his championship debut against Roscommon in Charlestown in 1962. Sligo were counting a great victory with time almost up and leading by two points only to be denied with a late,late, Roscommon goal with the last kick of the game. He went on to play in three different forward roles for Sligo at left half forward, centre and full forward in the twilight days of his career. His scoring feats were a much discussed subject all around Ireland and in the 1971 Connacht final, he put fourteen points on the scoreboard.
Five were from open play, two 45's and a sideline kick and the reamainder from the dead ball. Against the Combined Universities in 1973 he put twelve marvelous points on the scoreboard, this time from placed ball positions. He played for thirteen consecutive years for Connacht in the Railway Cup commencing in 1963. An All Star in 1971 he played in an era when back doors were meticulously locked annually.
A Connacht title in 1975 is a precious memento also and his career extended to the whistle when he exited the inter county game. He also excelled in this difficult role and took charge of four Connacht finals, N.F.L. final, two All Ireland club finals, Railway Cup final and an All Ireland semi final.