Home Are The HeroesWritten by Lorcan
Every Milltown/Castlemaine supporter remembers the final whistle in Croke Park on 12th February 2012; an iconic moment in a journey that started years earlier in Paddy Burke Park, Milltown. A strong youth policy had created the perfect conditions for an odyssey like we had never before seen.
A strong panel of players, a ruthless management team, a new voice in the dressing room and history was in the making. John Fintan Daly from Knocknagree gave a sense of unity and self-belief. The players gave loyalty and commitment.
A determined and disciplined season saw Milltown/Castlemaine become Co Intermediate Champions, beating Waterville in November. As Winter drew in training continued at home and challenge matches around the county and beyond. The Burco boiler and boxes of sandwiches became standard gear.
Clondegad gave us a fright at home while Newmarket fell in Mallow. As the fairy lights went up Mullinahone were dispatched, Munster was ours. Christmas was a fleeting respite as the New Year brought more challenges. During a match in Knocknagree one night the spare jerseys froze solid on the sideline. Life ebbed and flowed around us with the usual quota of weddings, wakes and christenings but momentum was building.
On 22nd January focus shifted to Portlaoise, O’ Moore Park the venue. Craigbane of Derry refused to go quietly but the supporters in Portlaoise that day provided the necessary inspiration for their team. That evening we knew we had to prepare for the greatest challenge our club had ever known.
The All Ireland checklist grew long, transport, meals, hotels, tickets, post-match event, all to be arranged while keeping the players focused and untroubled by the “hype”. Everyone from the top of Ballyfinnane to the bottom of Callinafercy and from Castlemaine village to the town of Milltown played their part. Flags, posters and knitted hats were everywhere. School kids were writing songs and “guess the score” was rampant. The lights in Paddy Burke Park burned late as John Fintan worked to fine tune the greatest team the club had ever known.
The 12th February dawned bright and clear the way John Fintan liked it. A nervous breakfast, an inspiring Mass with Fr .Pat O Donnell and everyone was ready to journey towards destiny.
Joxer might have drove the van to Stuttgart, but as Josie drove the van down Jones’s Rd chests swelled and throats tightened. No more could be done; every stone had been turned.
Davitts of Ballindine in Mayo never knew what hit them. The men in the green and white of Milltown/Castlemaine carried in their hearts the strength and pride that is Kerry football. Children sang and grown men cried as that long held dream became a reality. Hearts overflowed with pride again the following day when Damien Murphy and his team kicked off the celebrations at Ballyfinnane Cross, followed by rapturous receptions in Castlemaine and finally in Milltown.
The heroes were home.
The more difficult it is to reach your destination, the more memorable the journey.