The many sides of Jerry Kiernan and the week’s best sportswriting

1. “I think I have definitely moved on. When I was pressing the ‘f**k it button,’ subconsciously, I was playing out those roles but, for me, it was important not to consider myself a victim or a survivor [of abuse]. They are important words for me to avoid in many respects because I think if you carry that stuff around, I think it is not a healthy frame of reference to keep yourself in.

“That is something that has helped me move on but, then again, I listened to the Where Is George Gibney? podcast and a few more about Jeffrey Epstein and to be honest I did get emotional. It did bring up stuff that I know I probably have not dealt with in many regards but even listening to other people’s stories and feeling real deep emotions and sadness – letting a few tears roll down my eyes as I am doing the dishes in remote New Zealand, that for me is fine.

“I feel so much sadness for the people who it happened to. For me, when I hear these stories, I see how it destroys people’s lives. And it does. It destroys people. There was a fella I met for coffee a couple of times after the book came out. He was telling me his story – he went to meet the Pope. He had been raped by a Christian Brother in school. The Christian Brother was moved over to Africa and he was doing the same over there so this guy took it upon himself to go and hunt down this ‘priest’.”

Gavin Cummiskey revisits John Leonard’s award winning book ‘Dub Sub Confidential’ with former Dublin goalkeeper John Leonard 

2. “Last month, shortly after the final whistle had sounded in Croke Park and Limerick reclaimed the All-Ireland hurling crown, Munster began their Champions Cup campaign at home to Harlequins with just two Limerick-born players in their starting team. Jubilant street celebrations on what should have been a special occasion for the city were instead replaced by an emptiness, but for a couple of hours at least, Limerick’s gloomy night sky was lit up by the Thomond Park and Gaelic Grounds floodlights, which were shining as the minor squad trained ahead of yet another Munster final success. There they were, the heart and soul of a sport-obsessed city, standing tall just over a kilometre away from each other, providing brief solace in these surreal pandemic times.”

Cian Tracey investigates how Limerick’s hurling success is damaging Munster rugby

3. “I spent the 1990 World Cup living on the Phipps Bridge Estate in South London. Tough part of town. They used to film exterior scenes for “The Bill” in the complex and natives joked it was difficult to tell fake cop cars from real ones so “run first, pose for the cameras later” was the policy of the smarter hoodlums. On the day Ireland played Romania, my Uncle Finny and I set up shop in the kitchen of his family homestead there, the telly a small portable but a fridge full of Lowenbrau within arm’s reach. As the game wore on, Auntie Peggy wandered in and out warning us to pipe down, the volume rising with drink and the realisation Ireland might actually eke through. Eventually, she gave up reprimanding and joined the fray.

By the time Dave O’Leary and Packie Bonner performed their heroics, dozens of concerned neighbours had gathered on the street outside, worried about the vehement nature of the domestic dispute they were so avidly eavesdropping. They thought the Irish were at war when we were at play. Thankfully, nobody called the police. Not the done thing there.”

Dave Hannigan recalls watching 1990 World Cup on one of South London’s toughest estates

4. “They cried, they laughed, they reflected. For those who knew Jerry Kiernan, this had all come too soon, a traumatic, impossibly grim situation that made no sense. On Wednesday night, Kiernan had been texting friends shortly before going to bed, cracking a joke to one of them about Donald Trump. Hours later, he was gone.

“The 67-year-old passed away in the early hours of Thursday morning and the cause is not yet known, though Kiernan had been struggling with his health for months and dealing with stomach complaints.”

Cathal Dennehy reflects on the life of Jerry Kiernan, the hardiest of bastards as a runner, the most honest of analysts, the most caring of coaches and a man who taught so much

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5. “There were many sides to Jerry Kiernan. That’s the first thing you need to know. The guy you saw on RTÉ, the TV pundit who dropped quick-witted, cut-throat assessments about Irish athletes? That was just one. To his rivals, the men he traded blows with on the road, track, and at cross country through the ’70s and ’80s, he was the hardiest of bastards, a classy performer possessed of plentiful speed and oceans of endurance, either of which he could utilise to take you to a place you’d really rather not go.

“To the students at St Brigid’s Boys School in Foxrock, where Kiernan worked for 40 years, he was an oracle, a mullet-sporting font of wisdom who could cite Aristotle just as easily as Haile Gebrselassie. The students who had him through the years have the same stories: Kiernan didn’t just lecture, he listened, seeing a whole lot more to childhood development than getting good grades.”

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Cathal Dennehy speaks to Ciara Mageean about her ‘father figure’ Jerry Kiernan

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