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Dublin: 20 °C Saturday 30 May, 2020
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United in respect: Read Tyrone's tribute to 'inspirational' Kerry fans

“If you wanted your faith in decency, respect, honour and dignity restored, then Killarney at about eight o’clock last Saturday evening was the place to be.”

Solidarity: Tyrone manager Mickey Harte signs autographs after Saturday's defeat in Killarney.
Solidarity: Tyrone manager Mickey Harte signs autographs after Saturday's defeat in Killarney.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

ON THE PITCH last Saturday’s All-Ireland football qualifier between Kerry and Tyrone in Killarney was as fiery as they come, ending with 16 yellow cards, one red and a worn-out pencil for referee David Coldrick.

But the enmity quickly subsided after Kerry’s powerhouse performance as Kingdom fans united in a stunning show of support for Mickey Harte, whose daughter Michaela was murdered while on honeymoon in Mauritius last year.

Despite his team’s bitter disappointment the Tyrone manager was in no rush to leave Fitzgerald Stadium after the 1-16 to 1-06 defeat, gladly signing autographs and chatting with fans on the pitch.

And as the Tyrone team bus later pulled out of the ground for the long journey back north, around 500 Kerry supporters remained to show solidarity with Harte and their respect for a bitter footballing rival.

The game’s aftermath is recounted in a heartfelt piece penned anonymously on the Tyrone GAA website, titled “One GAA family united in respect”.

Long after the thousands had left Fitzgerald Stadium last Saturday evening our Tyrone team was getting ready for a bitter journey home. Around 500 Kerry people remained outside the changing area – men and women, old and young. As our people started to board their coach a ripple of applause met them. That ripple grew and grew and for long minute after long minute just went on and on and on.

When Mickey Harte appeared, a cheer of support went up. As the coach headed down through Killarney hundreds on the pavements took over where the others left off, warmly applauding Tyrone. There is no doubt that Ireland lost a lot and took a lot of wrong turns in the last few years. But if you wanted your faith in decency, respect, honour and dignity restored, then Killarney at about eight o’clock last Saturday evening was the place to be.

Inspirational. Unforgettable. Classy.

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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