The final page turned on Listowel Emmets’ exciting 2023 Junior Championship chapter last Sunday. As we know the result was not a favourable one but after such a wonderful season the next few chapters promise hope and expectation. Twelve months ago many could not foresee this Emmets team gracing the sacred ground in Croke Park, in fact many would have been skeptical on their chances of winning Kerry. In recent years the townies struggled to get out of their group in the Kerry Junior Championship, but there was a sense of something different this year. They seem to have grown in belief and confidence with each game.
A last minute winner against Firies in the group to squeeze through to the quarter finals showed their resilience and enthusiasm for battle. They were the better team against Listry in the quarter final and always had the upper hand against Annascaul in the semi. Their best performance was arguably the first half in the final where they put a fancied Ballymac side to the sword and were full value for their seven point half time lead. While the Emmets lads took their eye off the ball in the second half they still battled back to force extra time with the very last kick and took over again until the end. It was games like these, filled with excitement and emotion, that made their journey to Croke Park all the more rewarding.
The games in the Munster and All Ireland series ahead of the final were no test for Emmets quality, and perhaps this may have contributed to their demise against Arva last Sunday. They had no test since Ballymac almost three months ago meaning that the battle hardened attitude they had got from the Kerry Championship had waned somewhat.
Its like a jockey holding a horse for a few races and when asked to go he just didn’t find anything in final two furlongs. It is fair to say that Arva were the better team overall, especially in the second half but even still if it were not for a few crucial moments and baffling referee decisions the outcome could have been very different. Either way that is of little consequence now but immense credit must be given to these players and management for what they have achieved this year. Any year you win a county medal, a munster medal and play in Croke Park is a year of dreams and everyone involved should be very proud.
The real winner though is Listowel town, not just the GAA but the entire community of Listowel both at home and abroad. Sport has a unique way of transcending communities and over the last six months this Listowel Emmets team has fused many fragments into a collective with a common purpose. The commradery and togetherness seen among the panel was reflected in the supporters resulting in such good will and affable nature in the town. One game does not define the year but this particular one will bring much disappointment to this great bunch of young men, however Listowel Emmets will be back competing at intermediate level after eight years away and everyone involved will have reason to be optimistic. Interesting times ahead for this young team with many chapters yet to write.
I received the following from Emmets’ secretary Norah Browne who wanted to say a few thank yous for the huge support received by the club in recent times: All at Listowel Emmets would like to thank everyone that travelled in their droves to support the team in Croke Park last Sunday. While the result did not go our way the whole club and team were heartened by that great Emmets and North Kerry roar on entering the hallowed turf on Sunday afternoon. To the businesses in our town who went above and beyond to help us on our journey thank you. To everyone that supported us both far and near, from Go Fund Me to our Race night or who helped in any small way we are forever grateful. We hope you all enjoyed the experience as much as we enjoyed being part of it. Emmets abú