Gavin O’Connor meets former League of Ireland player, Derek O’Brien, who came home to give something back to his boyhood club, Tralee Dynamos, as they bid to make history this Sunday…
BACK in November, Kerry soccer pioneer Derek O’Brien, returned home to Tralee Dynamos with the expressed goal of finishing up his career winning a trophy with his boyhood club.
Derek O’Brien, holds the record for appearances by a Kerry player in the League of Ireland and also has the honour of being the first Kerryman to play in European club competition.
There are now just two games left to play in that career, the league final which Derek describes as the team’s ‘bread and butter’ and also something truly special – a shot at the Munster Junior Cup this Sunday, a competition no Kerry team has ever won before.
“The club was incredibly good to me when I was younger. They gave me a great platform to launch myself, so I always had it in my head to return home and help them,” said Derek, when we met him earlier this week.
O’Brien is a former winner of the ‘Galway United Player of The Year’. He was also picked alongside the best players in the domestic game when he was selected on ‘PFAI Premier Division Team of the Year in 2007.
Derek tasted European competition in 2008 by playing in a St Patrick’s Athletic side against a Hertha Berlin in the UEFA Cup.
This season, the Shanakill native has gone the extra mile for Dynamos, quite literally. He has been commuting from Galway, where he has two daughters and works in Elvery Sports.
“To be honest, people seem to make a bigger deal out of it than it is. I’m well used to travelling. I was playing in the League of Ireland for 15 years, which is basically like a Discover Ireland tour, so I’m well used to it. The travelling is helped if you have a great bunch of lads to play with,” he said.
Getting to the final, Dynamos beat Limerick City side, Janesboro, 3-1 away from home. It was a match they were not expected to win.
“We weren’t given much of chance, but we absolutely played them off the park. As a team I think we really came together that day,” he said.
After the final on Sunday, win or lose, Dynamos will have to focus immediately on the Denny Premier A league final against Castleisland, this will be Derek’s final game of his career. Whatever happens, there won’t be any sleepless nights with nerves.
“Some might see it as a blessing, but I never get excited about games until the day of the game. During the week I’m never that bothered. Unless I don’t get my night sleep before, then I get very cranky!”
Tralee Dynamos v Carrick United, Munster Junior Cup Final, Mounthawk Park, 2pm