Terrace Talk – The Caseys of Lispole

Taken from the Terrace Talk Web Site.


Kerry Football Families

The Caseys of Lispole

by Matt Leen

Lispole lies in the heart of the Dingle Peninsula among the Kerry Hills. It was here in the church field under the shadow of “an Stricin” that the great Bill Casey was born. Attending school at Dingle CBS to which he cycled every day, Bill first showed interest in Gaelic football. In that period the school won the Dunloe Cup on 4 occasions and these players were to form the backbone of that fabulous Dingle team during the golden era, when they captured 6 Kerry Co. Senior Football championships. Names like Sean Brosnan, Bill Dillon, Paddy Ban and Gega which would later blossom into household names in the 30’s and 40’s were among his team mates. Bill first wore the Kerry jersey as a minor in 1936 but was defeated by Louth in the AlI Ireland final. His first game at senior level for Kerry was in 1937, when he lined out at full back against Mayo in Tralee. From 1937 until 1949, Bill played 29 championship games for Kerry. Centre half back was the position in which the lron Man from Lispole excelled. Unlucky to lose to Galway after a replay in the 1938 AII Ireland final, Bill went on to win 3 Senior AlI Ireland Medals in a row: 1939, 40 and 41, the feature being the same 6 backs fronting the great Danno Keeffe in all 3 successes. Bill was playing the best football of his career now, and came up against the best forwards in the county but with the Lispole man’s great athletic ability combined with positional sense, he lorded over all corners. He won his 4th senior medal in 1946 after a replay with Roscommon, he played in corners.

He played in the famous Polo Grounds AII Ireland in 1947 which Kerry lost to Cavan. Bill captained the Kerry team in 1949, which was his last year in the county colours but they lost out in the Munster semi final of that year. In the club scene, Bill Casey’s enormous contribution to the fantastic Dingle team of the late 30’s up to the early 50’s was exceptional. Ever present at centre half back in the 10 county finals that Dingle contested winning 6, Bill rarely missed a game. Through his playing career he never put on weight, he played the game hard but fair, was a wonderful sportsman and his preferred style of play was catch and kick. Holder of 4 AIl Ireland Senior Medals, 1 Railway Cup medal and 6 Co. championship medals, Bill Casey ranks up with the greatest to wear the famous number 6 shirt for Kerry. Bill’s sister Nancy married Paddy Mullins and their son Brian, the great Dublin midfielder of the 70’s and 80’s, won 4 Senior AII Ireland medals. Bill and Kathleen Casey reared a large family of 12; 6 girls and 6 boys and in true Kerry tradition the boys carried on where their father left off. From the early 70’s to the late 90’s, the Casey brothers were the backbone of the great Lispole side who won 7 West Kerry championships. Centenary Year 1984 was something special. Gabriel, Riobard and Gearoid starred with the Lispole team that won the Kerry Junior Co. Championship, and on the 7th of October when West Kerry won the Kerry Senior Championship, Gabriel captained the team, Robaird played in defence and Gearoid was a member of the panel, so 3 of the Casey brothers collected 3 Senior medals on the same day. The proudest man in Austin Stack park on that day was Bill Casey. There was a tear in his eye, as the watched his son Gabriel accept the Bishop Moynihan Cup, the link had been forged, as it was 36 years before that Bill had won his last senior championship in 1948.

The 3 brothers lined out together when West Kerry retained the championship in 1985. Gearoid won his 3rd co. championship medal with West Kerry in 1990. Gabriel Casey wore the Kerry jersey with distinction, winning AlI Ireland medals in Minor, under 21 and Junior, several college medals with St. Brendans Killarney, 7 West Kerry Championship medals with Lispole, 1 Kerry Junior with West Kerry, Gearoid Casey won 3 Senior Co. Championship medals with West Kerry, 1 Junior Kerry Co. Champions with Lispole and 5 West Kerry Championships with Lispole. Riobaird Casey won 2 senior Co. Championship medals with West Kerry. 1 Junior Kerry Co. Championship with Lispole and 7 West Kerry championship with Lispole and last but not least Sean Casey won 4 West Kerry championships with Lispole.

The Caseys of Lispole hold an honoured place in the annals of Kerry football, for sportsmanship, commitment and loyalty to club – and their “never say die” spirit on the field of play.