Inspirational hurling coach John Meyler always brought the best out of Kilmoyley

Former Cork manager has been drawn back to the Kerry club time and again
Inspirational hurling coach John Meyler always brought the best out of Kilmoyley

Kilmoyley coach John Meyler is a GAA legend. Picture: Domnick Walsh

THERE is something about Kilmoyley that keeps bringing former Cork hurling boss John Meyler back time and time again.

Meyler has brought the Kerry club on an incredible journey while coaching at one of the most progressive hurling clubs in Kerry. The relationship between Meyler and this club goes back over 20 years.

Over the different spells he has had in charge, Meyler has guided Kilmoyley to seven Kerry Senior Hurling Championship titles and most recently also of course that Munster Intermediate crown in 2021.

Speaking with Kilmoyley Secretary John Nolan while researching for this piece, he gave a strong illustration of the strong impact and professionalism Meyler has brought to the club.

In the recent book from David and John Meyler, Meyler: A Family Memoir, written with The42 GAA journalist Fintan O’Toole, he explained the appeal of Kilmoyley.

“I have my favourite pitstop just outside Tralee and on summer afternoons, I will head to Banna Strand.

“A walk on the beach followed by a swim in the sea, dive around in the waves for 10 minutes and when I come out of the water, I am energised for the evening.

“When I get to the pitch for training, I can unwind in a place where no one is going to pester me over a match the previous weekend, and I get to work with a group of willing people.

“It’s the only job in hurling I’ve ever totally enjoyed. No matter how bad things got, I always wanted to keep coming back to Kilmoyley. It feels like home.” 

Based on this extract from what was a great book, one can get an insight into how and why the former Cork and Wexford bainisteoir keeps returning over the border.

Kerry is a football-mad county, but there is no doubt that the passion for the game of hurling is very strong in a few outposts.

On a general level, hurling in Kerry appears to be in a progressive place right now. Traditionally, hurling has been restricted to eight clubs in North Kerry, along with Kilgarvan down south. In more recent years, the bigger population areas in the county of Killarney and Tralee have generated a stronger interest in the great game.

Under the management of Meyler, Kilmoyley defeated Cork side Courcey Rovers to become the first-ever Kerry club to win the Munster Intermediate Hurling Championship title in recent months.

DRAMATIC

This was a dramatic and epic encounter, which went to extra time. From there it was the Kerry side that emerged as the victors courtesy of a 0-24 to 0-21 victory.

The Munster Intermediate title success showed indeed what this Kilmoyley team under Meyler were very much made of. Kilmoyley defeated Moyne-Templetouhy in the Munster quarter-final, before they also overcame Limerick side Mungret/St Paul’s in the semi-final, 1-18 to 1-17 after extra time.

Once the provincial title was secured, it became apparent that the Kerry club had zero intention of stopping just there.

Following on from the win over Courceys in the Munster final, Kilmoyley faced Banagher of Derry in the All-Ireland semi-final.

This also proved to be a compelling affair, which Kilmoyley in the end won on a full-time score of 2-15 to 1-12.

In February of this year, Kilmoyley were narrowly defeated in the AIB Intermediate Club Hurling Championship All-Ireland final. They went down to Naas by 0-16 to 1-11 at Croke Park, but they really played their part in a remarkable journey and one which put Kerry hurling on the map.

The All Ireland decider showed all of the character and desire which came to define this Kilmoyley team.

Kildare outfit Naas had to hold off a late rally to secure the crown, as a spirited Kilmoyley effort refused to give up, with the gap between the teams down to just a single point heading into the second half of stoppage time.

It was typical of this Kilmoyley side to leave absolutely everything out on the field of play. This was a testament to the work Meyler did with this team.

Given what hurling means to Kilmoyley and also the role it has played in the life of Meyler, it is very much a hurling match made in heaven.

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