One of Cork’s Greatest Footballers and an Inspiration to the Youth of Adrigole
Generations of G.A.A. players were gifted with exceptional skills but on meeting many of the legends, your admiration can sway to and fro. Kevin Jer O’Sullivan of Cork 1970’s football fame is a former club, county and divisional footballer, a legend born without airs and graces and a dream interviewee for sports writers.
After several years of contemplating the Adrigole legend with a specially commissioned SportsLife Tribute Show, I finally decided to spend my May 2017 bank holiday week – end in Glengarriff.
My wife enquired who I was meeting. Nobody – nothing lined up was my reply.
I never head away on leisure trips without the intention of interviewing an ex county player . Privately I had Kevin Jer O’Sullivan on my radar that weekend. I also knew where I would find him.
Kevin runs his own very popular ferry service from Ellen’s Rock, just outside Glengarriff, Co. Cork, to the world famous Italian Gardens on Garinish Island, all through the tourist summer seasons. He is an encyclopaedia of history on local beauty spots and places of interest and especially on the famed Ring of Beara Peninsula, with its unique mountains and seashore scenery which is just awesome.
I caught up with Kevin at Ellen’s Rock on the Saturday morning and in a casual matter of fact introduction, I told him I was contemplating researching his sports career and considering inducting him into the All Ireland Hall Of Fame Online Gallery.
Meantime I was under starters orders – don’t be too long with that man – he could be busy – and I don’t want to be sitting here all morning on my own.
Here was my ideal subject. No airs and graces as stated. As pleasant as the warm sunny day and well up for the chat. Of that I had no doubt. This legend I could see was much better than me to tell a yarn.
I knew I had really met a true legend of the people. Possibly a legend I could strike up a good friendship with also. We decided to meet the next morning at Ellen’s Rock (his place of business) and go to Kevin’s house and see where we go from there.
And now I am about to go global at All Ireland Hall Of Fame with a tribute and profile on a Famous Football Son Of Cork. His name is Kevin O’Sullivan.
A lifetime friend of Kevin’s, on and off the field, and also a colleague on the Beara 1967 Cork county champion football team, is Riobárd O’Dwyer of Ardgroom fame. Riobárd has itemised and scrutinised Kevin Jer’s glorious career over several decades and now as we induct Kevin into the All Ireland Hall Of Fame, we present Riobárd’s outstanding and meticulous records of the Adrigole legend.
Kevin Jer O’Sullivan by Riobárd O’Dwyer
KEVIN, one of the greatest footballers ever to represent his native football club, ADRIGOLE, was born on 3rd September 1948, the 6th of 9 children of Eamonn (Jer) O'Sullivan & Mary Crowley, Derrincorrin.
Kevin Jer crossed over the county bounds and married a Kilgarvan, Co. Kerry lady,Sheila Twomey. Kevin is known to everybody as simply KEVIN JER ---- the JER addendum comes from his great-grandfather, JER (O'Sullivan), and so the O'Sullivan families over those generation have been called the JERS.
Kevin arranges tours to the beautiful, famed island called Garnish Island in Glengarriffe Harbour, and close to his own home.
The other brothers in his family Michael (when young), Eddie, Jerry, Paddy, Fr. Brian, and Finbarr, have all achieved fame on the football field as well. Kevin and his wife, Sheila, have six children ----- two boys and four girls.
As Kevin is to-night being honoured with a place among the All Ireland Hall of Fame legendary players, I will now proceed to give you an idea of his achievements.
KEVIN JER was only 17 when he played at left corner forward and then at left half forward for Adrigole in the Beara Junior Football Championship in 1965. Adrigole lost by only 2 points in that championship game and Adrigole had four O’Sullivan brothers playing: Kevin, Eddie, Paddy, and Gerry.
By 1966 he had moved to right half back for the championship final in which there were the same four brothers. In 1967, Kevin Jer, a versatile footballer, moved to centre-field for the Beara Under-21 final which Adrigole won and in which he scored 0-5 (three of them from 50s !!).
Beara, amid wild scenes of joy, after a 27 years wait, won the 1967 County Senior Championship final over U.C.C, after a replay. Kevin Jer, at only 19 years of age, and at right half back, was the youngest player on that team, and the oldest, in goal, and at 35, was yours truly (Riobard O'Dwyer) of Eyeries and previously of Ardgroom representing the Urhan Club.
That Beara team was reckoned to have been the greatest Beara team of all times The following year (1968), Kevin Jer, by now making right half back his regular place, won the Beara junior football championship with Adrigole, who later in the year lost to Canovee by just a point in the county final.
In the county final Adrigole were the superior team, but Canovee saved a penalty. On that Adrigole team were five O’Sullivan brothers: Kevin, Eddie, Paddy, Gerry, and Brian (who later became a Priest).
In 1968 also Beara won the Munster senior championship, beating Mid-Kerry in the final.
Unfortunately, there was no All-Ireland Senior Club Championship at the time. But Beara later that year beat the Leinster champions, Kilbride, in a challenge game. Included (with two guest players) in the challenge game, were nine of the Meath senior football team.
Kevin Jer played for Cork in the Munster Under-21 Championship and in the National League v Kerry. In 1969, he captained the Adrigole team that won the Beara Under-21 championship and also played in the Beara Junior Championship final against Castletownbere, where the exchanges "were hot ---- verbally and physically" as were the exchanges between the two clubs in the 60s.
Kevin missed the County Senior Championship v Clonakilty, because he was in Bantry Hospital before the match with 14 stitches in a knee. Now - on to 1970.
Kevin captained Adrigole who won the Beara League, and was at centrefield for Beara in the drawn county championship semi-final against Muskerry. In that game he scored 5 points from frees. He was at right half forward for the replay which was won by Muskerry, who later won the county final.
Kevin Jer played for Cork (with his fellow Clubman, Bernie O'Neill, and Jim Downing of Urhan) in the Munster senior championship of 1970. In 1971 Kevin captained Adrigole to victory from centre-field in the Beara League final in which he scored a goal. He also captained Adrigole to victory, playing at centrefield in the Beara junior football championship.
He subsequently returned to right half back for Beara in the county senior football championship and was at right corner back for Cork when they defeated Kerry in the Munster senior football championship final. He also played with Munster in the 1971 Railway Cup.
Onwards now to 1972. Kevin was at centre-field for Adrigole who won the Beara junior football championship and were county junior football finalists also. He was at right-half back on the Cork team which lost to Kerry in the Munster senior football championship and also in the same position on the Munster team that defeated Leinster in the Railway Cup final.
1973 was an outstanding year for Kevin Jer O’Sullivan. He was at right-half back on the Adrigole team that lost the Beara junior football championship semi-final. He was on the Beara team in the county senior championship and also on the Cork team that beat Kerry in the Munster Senior Championship final.
Beating Tyrone at the semi final stage and then Galway in the 1973 All Ireland final made Kevin Jer a household name all over Ireland. That famous victory was hugely celebrated all over county Cork. Kevin Jer played for Munster in the 1973 Railway Cup and was selected also at wing half back on the Carroll’s All-Star Irish team that played in San Francisco, USA.
In 1974 he was at centre-field for Adrigole who won the Beara junior league for the Murphy Cup; lost to Castletownbere in the championship final, which was the first year that the Cormac O'Sullivan Cup was launched.
He was at right-half back for Cork who beat Kerry in the Munster senior football final and he again played for Munster in the 1974 Railway Cup.
Then in 1975 Kevin Jer played in the Beara championship semi-final which Adrigole lost to Urhan by a point. He was at centre-field for Beara, with his brother Gerry, and another brother, Eddie, at full-forward. That day Eddie scored a goal and five points, the goal coming from a penalty, a point from a free, another point from a sideline kick about 50 yards out and also three points from play.
Kevin played at right-half back for Cork who were beaten by Kerry and Mick O’Dwyer in the 1975 Munster senior championship final. But to make up for it he played in the same position for Munster who defeated Ulster in the Railway Cup final.
Adrigole went up to Intermediate ranks for the Cork county senior championship in 1976 and were beaten by only a point in the second round by Ballyvourney. He played that match at centre-field.
He played at right half-back with Beara who went down to Bantry in the 2nd round of the county senior championship. Adrigole won four games in the county Intermediate League. In 1977 Kevin won the county intermediate league with Adrigole and was captain of the Adrigole team that won the county intermediate championship in 1979.
When Adrigole went senior for a few years, Kevin was still amongst their leading lights.
I better stop here as I am running out of computer ink.
Kevin Jer was a mighty footballer. His achievements went all the way to the top. He is a loyal member of the Adrigole Club and a super gentleman to match.
I am delighted and proud to always be a good friend of Kevin and all the Jers.
Well done Kevin.
If anyone deserves this great honour, it is being given to a man known to us all, even as far as America, as simply Kevin Jer.
President of Beara G.A.A.
For the All Ireland Hall Of Fame
Kevin Jer O’Sullivan – Roll Of Honour:
Beara Junior Football Championship Medals: 1966; 1968; 1970; 1971; 1972; 1984
Beara Under 21 Football Championship Medal: 1984
Cork County Intermediate League Medal: 1977
Cork County Intermediate Championship Medal: 1979
Cork County Senior Championship Medal (with Beara): 1967
Cork Inter-County Senior Football Career: 1968 — 1975
Munster Senior Championship Medals Won With Cork: 1971; 1973; 1974
Railway Cup Medals with Munster: 1972; 1975
Munster Inter Provincial Football Career: 1971 - 1975
All Ireland Senior Football Championship Medal: 1973
All Star Awards: 1972; 1973
Munster Club Senior Football Championship Medal: 1968
Cork Centenary Football Team (1884—1984) - Kevin Jer was chosen at right half back.
All Ireland Hall Of Fame Online Gallery Induction at Eccles Hotel, Glengarriff, Co. Cork Held on Friday 22nd September 2017
Derry JF Doody