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14th Sep 2019

Templenoe’s refusal to die and the golden boy of the golden generation

Niall McIntyre

Killian, Adrian, Tadhg and Gavin were only young lads at the time so they wouldn’t really have understood.

Tadhg Morley was the first of them. In with the Kerry development squads. The people of Templenoe began to hear good things. It hit them like a ray of light.

For years let’s not forget, it was grim stuff down here along the Atlantic Coast. 15-year-olds lined out alongside 49-year-olds as club stalwart Timmy Clifford recalls. Pat Spillane, for God sake, with his eight All-Ireland medals and nine All-Stars was playing at the lowest level of Kerry club football. At 45 and with a banjaxed knee. Just to keep Templenoe GAA club going.

Just so they wouldn’t fold. This was the club who refused to die.

And wasn’t it worth living for. Now they’re living large.

The four lads, the would be Kerry seniors arrived as offspring from the previous golden generation. Brothers Mike, Tom and Pat put them on the map back then, but they weren’t the only good Templenoe players in the 70s and through the 80s into 90s. You had men like Mike Crowley (father of Gavin,) Timmy Clifford and co. too.

The genes were good no matter where you looked.

So Tadhg went into the development squads and he was followed by Adrian, Gavin, his twin Brian and last but not least Killian. The lads at home were just as important though.

A panel effort, Timmy Clifford is keen to stress it, helped them to the All-Ireland junior club title in 2016.

“Huge credit has to go to the rest of the team as well for getting them, for pushing them that bit more. Do you know? And getting them to that stage. Where, do you know, When you’re playing in county finals and when you get to Division One, you’re in the limelight all the time,” he tells us.

Templenoe were centre stage. Soon after that glorious Croke Park win, there was some more history to be made. Morley became the first Kerry senior from Templenoe since Tom Spillane.

The first of many. Adrian, Tom’s son followed. And so did Gavin Crowley. It was all happening so quickly, but Killian couldn’t be forgotten about.

He was the golden boy of the golden generation. Mike Crowley coached him much of the way up in Templenoe and he can attest to the excitement that surrounded this young forward.

“He was one of these exceptional…Like he would have played with the under-14s when he was 11. He would have played with the under-16s when he was 13, he would have played with the minors when he was 15. He would have been exceptional for his age, all the way up along…”

He hit 0-5 from play in the 2014 All-Ireland final to help Kerry beat Donegal. The real deal.

“He was an exceptionally good minor, I think he got Munster minor player of the year and All-Ireland player of the year. Likewise at under-21…The automatic assumption would be that he’d go straight into the seniors…”

Killian took his time, but it was worth the wait.

“It’s fine to say look you’re going to go to the senior team and you’re going to be the best footballer on the senior team,” says Crowley, “But the best footballer in Kerry is a really serious footballer so I mean you can just assume that because you’re a good footballer, you’re going to get there.

“But look things happen, people have lives to live, maybe Killian decided for himself, look I’m going to relax for a year, build myself up. He’s a big strong young lad now, but it does take time to get that power into the senior level…”

He’s got the power now, as his late cameo showed the last day. Now, he’s a weapon that will frighten the life out of Dublin in the replay.

“Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to give yourself a year or two to get into it, get used to it. Obviously the last day now when he scored that goal, it might have been a surprise to some, but we’ve seen him do that time and time again here…”

With the way rural Ireland is going, they don’t know if a group of players like this will ever come again. They don’t know if the generation game can be played again.

But down in Templenoe they will be doing their best. Down in Templenoe, they won’t die easy.

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