Kevin Jer O’Sullivan, Cork 1972 &’73 All Star, Is a Former Footballer Who Is Now Club President Of Adrigole GAA Club
Q 1: Players To-Day - Players in your time. Fitness levels.
Certainly away more fitness levels now. In my time we had a more natural programme. Championship training didn’t kick in until February and you did most of the work on your own and then around May I’d make an 80 mile trip to the old Athletic Grounds in Cork maybe three times a week. After training drive another 80 miles home to Glengarriff. The training was intensive, lot of ball work but that was the style of the day in my time, late 1960’s and and 70’s.
Q 2: Commitment of players to-day. In your time:
Unbelievable to-day. You have to be wholly committed. In my time we were very committed also but for me living so far away from the city you had to be really committed to endure all the travelling time involved.
Q 3: Managers to-day. In your time.
Huge pressure for a manager to-day. In my time the managerial role had just entered gaelic football in the early 1970’s and we had the late Dónie O’Donovan who managed our Cork All Ireland winning team in 1973. He was just superb. Even before Dónie in Beara we had Seán O’Dwyer, a PE teacher and brother of Riobárd. I have no hesitation in saying we would not have won our 1967 county senior football championship without Seán’s influence.
Q 4: Dieticians to-day: In your time.
I’m from the 1960’s/70’s eras. Dieticians how are you. After inter county training we’d be lucky to get a sandwich and a glass of milk. Playing in a Munster football final, if you won - you’d get a steak. Look; that was the way then.
Q 5: The ball to-day. In your time.
Totally different ball to-day. In my time it was a laced ball. When it got wet it became a really heavy and very slippery bar of soap. They’re like blown up balloons to-day. No issue understanding how players can kick long distance to-day. I regularly landed 50’s over the bar with the old ball.
Q 6: Pressure to perform today. In your time.
No difference at all then and now. If you weren’t at your best, you were called ashore - simple as that.
Q 7: Training for championship to-day. In your time.
There’s never easy games in the start up rounds of the championship. Cork and Kerry were on opposite ends of the draw to ensure a Cork/Kerry final. Tipp; Limerick; Waterford and Clare were not as unpredictable as they are now. We expected to beat any of them. To-day it’s totally different and that’s a really good thing. Munster finals between Kerry/Cork have a magic all of their own.
Q 8: Referees to-day. In your time.
It has always been a NO WIN task. Referees in to-days game are very good; most of them anyway. In my time we had some great men on the whistle. I’ve no complaints – just respect for the tough essential job they do.
Q 9: Out of pocket today. In your time.
Every game I played for Cork, I was always out of pocket personally. My family home was so far away I couldn’t win. We got 3d a mile if we used our own car and if the board hired a taximan, he got 2 shillings a mile.
Q 10: County Board to-day. In your time.
Like the referees. They take a lot of stick. I am of the opinion they deserve a lot of credit for what they do. I’m always looking for tickets, so that’s my reply anyway.
Q 11: Personal sacrifices to-day. In your time.
There has to be sacrifices. You have to accept that. My social life evolved around my club Adrigole, Beara and Cork. Then a Kerrywoman came into my life around 1972 but she knows the story when it comes to football. It has been an immense journey for Sheila and I and we have made so many friends and acquaintances all over Ireland. That’s because football has been very good to me over several decades. And long may it continue for the rest of my life.
Q 12: Opponents. Your most difficult in your time.
Tony McTague of Offaly; David Hickey of Dublin; Eamon O’Donoughue of Kerry; Mickey Rooney of Galway and there’s quite a few more I can assure you. Different ball game back then.
As a back I was told – stick to your man – don’t give him an inch. The ball was kicked out; not like to-day; it’s kicked backwards now so much. Goalkeepers should be kicking that ball out 30/40 yards, it would make for a far better game for spectators. That’s my opinion anyway.
Q 13: Club V County to-day. In your time.
In my time with me - the club was first. Now there’s fierce inter county demands for several years now and my belief is serious county training starts away too early to the detriment of the clubs.
Q 14: Railway Cup to-day. In your time.
Oh this Railway Cup. Look, I had great respect for that competition. Spectators saw the very best players from all four provinces assemble as a team. It was a great honour to be selected on the panel not alone to pull on the jersey. The finals on St. Patrick’s Day were huge occasions.
They were flagship annual games. Down here Bernie O’Neill and myself would make sure we were as fit as possible and hope to get on the team. The demise came through too many games for the players. We have great memories. That’s what’s left just now.
Q 15: Compromise Rules. Your opinion.
Mixed views here. Not a natural football game and Australia seldom field their top players.
In certain years it got very rough and tough. That didn’t help with promoting the game. I really haven’t bought into the Aussie Rules concept.
Q 16: Provincial Championships. Your opinion.
Current provincial system seems ok to me. Why meddle.
Q 17: Playing senior football for Cork. The benefits.
Mighty. The banter, the craic and the sense of personal identity arising from playing with Cork. You couldn’t buy it. I meet people from all over Ireland who recall my playing days and now I have your show coming up on Friday 22nd September 2017. That’s super for me to be meeting all these people once again under the one roof. It’s more than I could have ever envisaged at this point in my life and to be the subject of a SportsLife Tribute Show; it’s 44 years since we won that All Ireland title in 1973.
Q 18: Sponsorship to-day. In your time.
We were lucky to get a pair of socks. No swapping jersies back then. When we got into the dressingroom after a Munster final, you had a man standing beside a box to make sure we put the jersies into that box. He’d count every last jersey till he had all counted for. That was the level of our sponsorship.
Before the 1973 All Ireland final, we were told to report to Fitzgerald’s Menswear in Patrick Street, Cork, to be kitted out with a blazer, trousers, shirt and tie. No way were we losing that match after being dressed up like that.
Q 19: Your club involvement to-day. In your time playing.
My club is Adrigole. For decades my life and theirs have been inter-locked. My involvement all through my life has been at the coalface of the club. They even turned me into a DUCK for the annual festival and put a microphone in my hand also. Other lads in the club played with Cork also and I am proud to say, two of my sons also wore the rebel jersey, Brendan jer and Kevin Jnr.
I’m the current club President and that in itself for me, is a mighty honour.
Q 20: Your football ambitions for Cork.
We have a mighty big county. I’m downbeat now for a while. We should always be sitting at the top table. We have a new management team for 2018. We should only go one way. That’s up and at them. And why not.
No pulling words out of this famous All Star who I believe likes his sing song as much as he ever liked his football.
Derry JF Doody