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  • Wednesday June 23rd, 2021 @ 9:00

A Life Through Music... Part III

May 1st, 1998, Buckley Park. Colin Hawkins has equalised after Michael Reddy opened the scoring in Kilkenny.

Dundalk are beating Shelbourne. They've blown it, but we still need a goal. Brian Kerr is in Dunblane, Scotland, with the Irish U16 team, a fancy radio glued to his ear. His right-hand-man, Noel O'Reilly, is double-jobbing with Pat's and the FAI, and has flown back to be with Pat Dolan and the team in Kilkenny.

"We played Scotland, Denmark and Portugal in the group, and there was a little break, so Noel went back. I bought a fancy radio because I was travelling so much at that time, so I could hear a bit of news while I was away.

So, we're listening to the match on the radio in Dunblane, and the room is full of fellas with an interest in the league: Andy Reid, John O'Shea, Jim Goodwin, Graham Barrett, Keith Foy. Atone stage I'm hanging out the window, aerial stretched, trying to listen to Gabriel Egan, I think it was, in Kilkenny, and all the lads are in the room," Brian laughs.

Up steps Eddie Gormley. Pandemonium, in both Kilkenny and the hotel room in Dunblane.

It would turn out to be quite a few weeks for Brian Kerr and Noel O'Reilly, as their U16 side over came Italy in the final to make history and win the European Championship.

KNOCKIN' ON HEAVEN'S DOOR

If Brian and Noel were together, music was never too far away. And it played an integral role in creating a positive atmosphere in all of Kerr's squads over the years, particularly at international tournaments.

"Noel used to sing a myriad of Bob Dylan songs, but particularly at tournaments he would always sing "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" with all the lads joining in.

It was always so appropriate and magical because we always felt we were in a great place, and that we were in with a shout of winning medals."

"The work was busy, the work was hard," Brian admits.

"Trying to always be positive, keeping everybody in good form, it's not always easy to do that, you've always got to be the one out there fixing things and making sure that everyone is ok. We'd have matches and training, matches and training. We'd get the players to bed at half ten, and then we'd go and have a drink and relax with the staff."

"Pauric Carney, a great Pat's fan, he was the kitman, he'd say "Noel, get the guitar." "Ah, no, no," Noel would say.

Pauric would get the master key and go to Noel's room and get the guitar and leave it beside Noel. This could be Tel Aviv, St. Petersburg, Chisinau, Ayia Napa, Reykjavik, and the guitar would be out.

There'd be loads of people around and they'd all slowly start to mooch over. The teams we'd be playing against the next day, their staff would be sitting around with us. Extraordinary scenes!"

You can read the article in full in our matchday programme:


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