This year’s entry into the Club Hall of Fame and the recipient of the Vincent Doyle Cup needed little debate as he has been part and parcel of the Club for as long as this writer can remember. Diarmuid O Donoghue has been left, right and centre in Club affairs and is always viewed as a solid middle ground to seek out for advice. Growing up he would have had little choice in where he would play his football as father Jameso was heavily involved in the Legion , a club he joined in 1951. A year later he married Lily Kerrisk and it was in the house growing up that the love for football was nurtured.
Born sometime around 1960( his fitness and youthful look belying the birth cert) he first came to prominence when he starred for the famed football nursery St Brendans College and a little known fact today is that he was the first “Day Boy” to captain the Sem , the position upto then was the preserve of a “Boarder”. He also came to the attention of the Kerry minor selectors , making two appearances for them in 1976 against New York and Cork( on the day that the original Pairc Ui Chaoimh was opened, son James would kick ten points on the last game played there ). In 1977 he suffered a serious leg injury while playing for the Sem and that put pay to his year.
Not to be deterred he soldiered on and by 1980 his performances caught the eye of Mick O Dwyer who called the young Knockeenduve man into his multi All Ireland winning panel. And while breaking into a forward line including all time greats and multiple All Stars was always going to be a big ask Diarmuid loved the cut and thrust of training ,while maybe privately bemoaning that serious injury may have robbed him of a vital half yard of pace.He was an ever present in the squad though, winning two All Ireland Senior medals in 1980 and 1984 plus an All Ireland Junior medal in 1983.
With Killarney( a combination of Dr Crokes and Legion) winning a Kerry County Championship in 1983 Diarmuid was nominated as Kerry Captain in 1984 and he led the team to a National League triumph in 1984, beating Galway in Limerick. He captained the team in the first round of the Munster Championship that year against Tipperary but again given the competition for places he remained a member of the panel but not the first fifteen for the remainder of the championship. The honour of captaining Kerry to the Centenary All Ireland was handed to Ambrose O Donovan. He would make twenty seven league appearances for Kerry but it is widely acknowledged by the people in the know that had Diarmuid been at his peak in any other era in Kerry football he would have walked into any forward line.
Meanwhile back at the club he was an ever-present in the senior team from 1976 until the early 2000s, years of pure and utter dedication. His eye for a score never diminished, his left leg was like a wand, always finding his man, and splitting the posts with regularity. And in that time too he found time to manage numerous underage teams in the club, most notably the 1990 East Kerry and County league winning minor team. He would later line out with the majority of that team in the senior jersey as they graduated through the club under his tutelage. The Senior team competed strongly in the County championship in the late 90s, reaching the last four on two occasions , in a team smattered with Diarmuid’s proteges. Married to Rita(of Linehans Bar College St) they had two young sons Tommy and James now and he was also juggling his time as a physiatric nurse in St Finians Hospital.
Having hung up his boots( although he later made a comeback for a day in goal post his 50th birthday) he dived headlong into coaching. By my count he has been involved, and that’s only in recent years, in eleven East Kerry and two County league winning juvenile teams. An incredible record!! He served as Juvenile chairman and also ran the Saturday MorningAcademy . It would be impossible to equate the influence Diarmaid has had on the young players he has coached in the club but fair to say it has been immense.
Diarmuid follows in the footsteps of his father Jameso, who was inducted into the Club Hall of Fame in 1995, and back then everyone would readily acknowledge that walking in Jameso footprints would be a hard task. But fair to say Diarmuid has taken a good stab at it.