Not a land grab – just a brief, memorable Roscommon invasion of Killarney…

Killarney tourist chiefs must be glad this week that Roscommon have been promoted to Division One. On a weekend when there would not have been too much happening and when the weather was cold and wet, a Rossie invasion took place. It started on Saturday at lunchtime and continued until Sunday between 4 pm and 5 pm.

  It was a huge boost to the County Kerry town, which is a great place to visit. The Rossies certainly left a good few euro there last weekend!

  It’s a long journey to get there, but with the anticipation of the game and the prospect of meeting up with fellow Rossies, it never seems as long as the return trip home on the Sunday night.

  We got to Killarney at about 5.30 pm on Saturday –and already the town was alive with Roscommon people. We stayed in the Best Western Hotel on New Street and the bar there was packed with Rossies who were watching the England v Scotland Rugby match on four huge screens. After enjoying some top class food, we watched the Mayo v Dublin game from Castlebar.

  Familiar faces were everywhere and Club Rossie jackets and Roscommon scarves were to be seen on every street and in just about every bar and restaurant. The Rossies were out in force.

  Later, we headed for the famous Tatler Jack pub, which is the main GAA haunt in Killarney. It was packed to the rafters, with the Rossies outnumbering the locals by about 10 to 1. However there were a few famous Kerry men there. Eoin ‘Bomber’ Liston, Darragh Ó Sé and Seanie Walsh were holding court in one corner. The three lads have 20 All-Ireland senior medals between them!

  Members of the Strokestown team which won the Roscommon Senior Football Championship in 1992 had a reunion in Killarney over the weekend and they were there in great numbers. 

  Former Roscommon players like Gerry Fitzmaurice, Seamus Hayden, Christy Grogan, Francie Grehan and Seamie O’Neill, to name just a few, were all there, as were hundreds of Roscommon followers from all parts of the county. Prospective TD Shane Curran was also there, but I didn’t see him on the night.

  The Rossies were in buoyant mood but there was a nervous excitement about what might happen in Fitzgerald Stadium the next day.

  The morning brought torrential showers and cold gale force winds. Going down to the stadium it was clear that the Rossies were there in force. As we know now, Roscommon footballers showed wonderful courage, heart and determination to win the game, really coming to the fore in a pulsating second half played in terrible conditions.

  The Roscommon support was fantastic. We may have a small county, but our passion for Gaelic Football is second to none around the country. I was so proud to be a Rossie last Sunday, to see and hear the huge Roscommon following roar their team on to victory.

  Yes, it was one of those ‘I was there to see it’ occasions. It is a memory that I will treasure for a long time to come and so will anyone else who was there…the first win by any Roscommon team on Kerry soil.

  When the game was over, the Roscommon fans stood and waited for at least 10 minutes…talking it all in, cheering their heroes off the field and wallowing in what was certainly one of the best league wins for the Roscommon senior football team in many decades.

  As Fergal O’Donnell put it after the game, when talking to RTE…“It will be a short journey home tonight”…

  And you know what? He was right.