Con Brosnan

by Cormac O’Leary

Con BrosnanIt was that great sportswriter, P.F., who once wrote in ‘The Kerryman‘, that almost every parish in Kerry had “its All-Ireland man.” And attributed the continued growth and strength of the GAA in the county, in no small measure, to that fact.

This parish has been singularly lucky that so many of its sons have graced with distinction the green sward of All-Ireland Final Day, and their names are carved with pride in the hearts of all Moyvane people at home and abroad.

Names like Thomas Mahoney, Jack Flavin, Jim and Mick Brosnan, Bernie O’Callaghan, Johnny Mulvihill, etc. spring readily to mind, but few will cavil with the assertion that Con Brosnan was “the greatest Roman of them all.”
Flying Column
Picture of Flying Column taken during War of Independence

Front Row: Patrick J. McElligott, Denis Quille, James Sugrue, Brian O’Grady.
Middle Row: Martin Quille, Christopher Broder, Con Brosnan, Timothy O’Sullivan
Back Row: Daniel O’Grady, Miss Mary Ahearne, Seán Coughlan

In the early twenties, rumour was rife in the County that a young football prodigy was appearing in the sportsfields of North Kerry, and quickly it was confirmed that a new star had burst with brilliance on the football scene. Soon the name Con Brosnan became widely known, not least to the Black and Tans who, smarting under the ignominy of his daring exploits against them, and their failure to apprehend him, descended on Moyvane one spring morning and burned the Brosnan home to the ground.

When peace was restored and the prison gates of Frongoch were opened, a great young Kerry team – the greatest some would maintain – began to take shape, and sited at midfield was the young Moyvane man facing, in his first All-Ireland Final (1923), two of Gaelic Football’s all-time greats: Paddy McDonnell and Larry Stanley.

Con BrosnanHis immaculate fielding, precision kicking and unflinching endurance all but carried the day, but defeat was the lot of this young team on their maiden voyage. But Con was back the following year, facing the same opposition – Dublin – now going for their fourth All-Ireland in a row. A thrilling game ensued, two great teams locked in battle, the scores level with minutes remaining, until a marvelous point from the boot of the Moyvane midfield broke the deadlock and carried the day for the Kingdom, giving Con the first of his six All-Ireland medals. A quote from a poem commemorating the great victory:

At midfield where the fight was raging
Shone Brosnan, bright as the morning star.
He drove the leather right up to Landers
Who fisted neatly across the bar…

and the lines describing his great winning score were as follows:

With steady nerve and unerring aim
He scored a point and again we led them.
‘Twas the final score in a hard-fought game.

Con played in eight All-Ireland Finals, winning six, and captained the victorious team of 1931 when Rock Street Austin Stacks made the magnificent gesture of offering him the captaincy. His last All-Ireland Final appearance was also a winning one – against Mayo in 1932 – and he finally hung up his County boots in 1934, though he played for many more years with his beloved Moyvane.

Tribute to Con Brosnan
Gabriel Fitzmaurice introduces Con Brosnan Park. Gerry Brosnan, Sean Walsh, Liam Hanrahan and the late Cormac O’ Leary remember Con. Billy Cunningham recites a ballad about Con to the man himself.
Length: 8 minutes – Size: 6mbs

Here is a 3.5 minute silent film of Kerry Vs Kildare in 1926 with Con playing. In the teamphoto at the beginning, Con is standing third from the left at the back with his arms folded.


On retiring, he served for many years as Munster Council representative, was a Kerry selector, and trained two All-Ireland winning sides.

A man of magnificent physique, he never resorted to foul or questionable tactics to beat an opponent, and was hailed the length and breadth of the land as an accomplished sporting footballer of the highest calibre.

And when life’s final whistle sounded for Con a few years ago, Gaels from Malin head to Mizen Head thronged to pay their last respects to “Kerry’s Idol from Newtownsandes.”

Here is another article about Con Brosnan by Liam Hanrahan
Con Brosnan and the Midfield Might