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Late Seán Kelly is remembered

JJ Hurley

Tracton GAA recently unveiled a seat to late Sean Kelly. The following article was compiled by Christy O’ Sullivan and Pat Walsh at the time of his death for the Tracton Newssheet.

Seán’s involvement with Tracton began at a very young age. As a boy Seán lived in Ballyfeard and it was here that he started his hurling in the company of his brother Terry, the Farrissey brothers, the Barry brothers, Richie Desmond and John Quinn.  When Seán finished primary school in the old Knocknamanagh school there was no underage hurling in the South East at that time. Seán went to Farrenfarris for his secondary education and it was there that he got his first taste of competitive hurling when he played in the Harty Cup.  Unfortunately for Seán Farrenferris did not win a Harty Cup at that time.  His first taste of club hurling with Tracton was at minor level. 

In 1954 Tracton had a star-studded minor team and won the South East minor hurling championship with Seán as the star forward.  Before the first round of the minor county championship that year Seán broke his collar bone in a Junior hurling championship game against Ballinhassig which ruled him out of the first round of the minor against Sarsfields.  Although Tracton scored 7 goals it was not enough to win the game so it is felt, up to this day, that if Seán was able to play that Tracton would have won the game.  The report on the Cork Examiner the day after the game read as follows ‘6 goals in 6 minutes not enough for the South East boys’ a reference to the fact that Tracton had finished strongly scoring 6 goals in the last 6 minutes of the game. 

Seán continued playing Junior hurling with Tracton but the clubs big break through came in 1957 when Tracton won the South East and County championship.  The team was backboned by many of the 1954 minor team and led by Seán as an outstanding captain.  In that campaign Tracton defeated Carrigaline, Ballymartle and Valley Rovers in the South East.  In the county championship Tracton defeated St. Catherine’s in the first round.  In the semi – final against Cloughduv, which Tracton won by 2 points, tragedy struck Seán and the Kelly family when his father collapsed and died during the game.  With Tracton facing into a county final against Courcey Rovers it was not easy for Seán but being the great Tracton man that he was he lined out and played a staring role on the day and lifted the county cup in Kinsale on that November evening.  After the Junior victory Tracton were elevated to Intermediate grade and with Seán’s brother, the late Terry, returning from garda duty in Dublin Tracton were a match for most intermediate teams at that time.  Having great duels with Carrigaline in 58, 59 and 63 and also with Ballymartle.  Tracton contested the Intermediate league final in 1961, only to be defeated by a last minute Castletownroche goal. 

For his outstanding performances in 1957 Seán came to the attention of the Cork selectors which won him a place on the Cork junior team, who went on to win the All Ireland title.  Seán also played for a number of years for Carrigdhoun in the senior championship and played a number of national league games with the Cork senior team in a forward line that consisted of the late, great Christy Ring. 

Seán was also a very accomplished footballer.  He continued playing with Tracton in both hurling and football into the early 70’s.  Off the field Seán did tremendous work for the club and the community.  Seán held the roles of both chairman and secretary of the club over the years as well as being the President, up to his death.  He was one of the major driving forces behind the purchase and development of the first pitch, he was on the committee for the building of the GAA hall and the committee in the development of the second pitch and the building of the new dressing rooms.  Even in the later years of his life he was one of the most forward-thinking people in the club and was instrumental in pushing for the installation of a new gym in the GAA hall.  Seán was also involved in all the fundraising for the above projects as well as fundraising for the church repairs.  Seán was always immensely proud of the GAA complex, and the village of Minane Bridge and he always wanted to see them looking their best. 

Seán was always proud of his family and was a very happy man when Liam won minor, and under 21 hurling medals with Cork in 85 and 88.  But it was in 1991 when both Tom and Liam were involved with the Tracton Intermediate team that lifted the County Intermediate championship cup that gave him his proudest moment.  He always got great enjoyment watching his grandchildren playing hurling, football and camogie for Tracton.

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