The final of this season’s Leinster Champions League Senior Division One competition took place in Oriel Park last Thursday with 10-man St Peter’s College, Dunboyne beating Chanel College, Coolock in a thrilling final.
For readers wondering why two schools from outside of the locality were contesting a Leinster final in Dundalk – the answer is simple – Barry Kehoe.
For those too young to remember, Barry Kehoe was probably the outstanding player in the Dundalk side of the 1980’s, a team which always challenged for honours, culminating in a famous league and cup double in 1988.
Barry also had to overcome some major obstacles in his life and was afflicted not once, but twice with cancer and in true Barry Kehoe fashion, beat it twice, returning to the Dundalk side on both occasions after heavy doses of chemotherapy treatment.
Barry continued playing at League of Ireland level well into his mid-thirties, switching allegiance to Louth rivals, Drogheda United FC.
Off the pitch, Barry was a successful businessman, owning Dundalk’s busiest nightclub, a restaurant and several bars – his skill and tenaciousness were hallmarks of the man, no matter where he plied his trade.
The town of Dundalk and the football community in Ireland was greatly saddened by Barry’s untimely death in 2002, at the age of just 40. The term ‘legend’ is bandied about far too often these days, but in the person of Barry Kehoe, the adage is most appropriate.
The North East League of the FAI Schools had just commenced in 1988 when the then Regional Organiser, the late Dave Colgan of St Oliver’s CC, Drogheda and father of Irish International Nick Colgan, approached Barry about the possibility of sponsoring a trophy for then fledgling Leinster League competition.
Barry did not hesitate and provided a sterling silver trophy worth almost £200 to the FAI Schools. Such generosity was typical of Barry.
The trophy has provided great service in the 24 years since, being housed in 21 different schools throughout Leinster. It even found its way back to Dundalk three times, with Colaiste Ris winning the cup in 1989, De La Salle College capturing the title a year later in 1990 and St Mary’s College triumphant in 2002.
However, time waits for no man or trophy and a new one was needed. When Adrienne Kehoe was approached about the possibility of providing a replacement, there was no hesitation there either. Adrienne is of course the daughter of another Dundalk FC legend, Enda McGuill.
Considering the history of the competition, it is no suprise that the venue for the re-launched competition was Oriel Park. Many thanks to Paul Johnston, General Manager, Dundalk FC, for his involvement in the game and to Adrienne Kehoe, Lisdoo Steakhouse and Restaurant, for providing the catering for the reception after the final, as well as the sponsorship of the replacement trophy.