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Kerry's Johnny Cullotty & Glorious Inter County Achievements
Goalkeeping in gaelic football at the highest level is a special art and more so when you are converted from a forward. Winning All Ireland senior medals as a goalkeeper and as a forward is a unique achievement reserved for the greatest players.
Killarney native and dual inter county player of 1950’s,’60’s and ‘70’s, Johnny Cullotty, won a glorious 5 All Ireland senior football medals and became a household name around all the plains of gaelic football. Hurling around Killarney has never been the No.1 sport, but the Killarney Legions clubman had a great grá for the skills of hurling and became one of Kerry’s greatest exponents of the camán.
When Johnny exited his playing days, he turned his attention to coaching, and was the Kerry supremo before the appointment of Mick O’Dwyer in 1975. The famous Legion’s former player delivered 3 National Football League titles in his tenure as Kerry manager.
In a June 2015 interview, Johnny was emphatic that no manager should hang in for more than 3 years, as the need to freshen things up is ever present and players need constant motivation. Mick O’Dwyer was an exception to all rules when longevity on tenure of coaches is on the menu.
Johnny first pulled on a Kerry jersey as a 14 year old in minor hurling and his extensive reign at adult club level, was a truly remarkable sojourn. The football code was the No.1 pathway to establishing Johnny as a player who became famous all over Ireland. The football inter county journey began in 1954 when he wore the No.11 jersey in the minor All Ireland final which Dublin won.
A measure of compensation arrived the same year in the hurling code as Johnny and Kerry beat London to claim the Junior All Ireland hurling title and in 1955, Johnny Cullotty celebrated winning his very first senior All Ireland football medal, when Dublin fell to the Kingdom. On this occasion, the Legion's player was corner forward.
The conversion from forward to goalkeeper occured in 1957 when the No.1 Kerry keeper was unavailable for a tournament game and Johnny was requested to stand between the posts. The move was not permanent, as he reverted to a forward role once again in the National League.
As the 1958 season was declining, the regular goalie was again marked absent and now Johnny’s contributions to Kerry teams would be confined to the small parallelogram. With Mick O’Connell as Kerry captain in 1959, and Johnny in his first year as the No.1 goalkeeper, a second All Ireland senior medal was achieved. In 1962 v Roscommon, 1969 V Offaly and 1970 V Meath, Kerry and Johnny won a further 3 All Ireland senior football titles.
On the hurling fields he excelled also, and has been described as a hurler who would have been most welcome in the traditional hurling counties and his club and county hurling career, aside from his football allegiance, meant that social time out was in scarce supply. Johnny Cullotty did not mince his words when referring to current professional trends in gaelic games and expresses concerns about the financial trends now rampant all over Ireland, even at club levels.
For a player with a hugely famous profile, he wears the mantle without a trace of importance in his makeup. Enrolling Johnny Cullotly in our All Ireland Hall of Fame Online Gallery is long overdue, and with so many Kerry contenders lining up for induction, there is no doom and gloom at our Hall of Fame Gallery when searching for Kerry candidates.
Roll of Honour: Football
5 All Ireland Senior Football medals 1955/59/62/69/70
5 National Football League medals 1958/60/61/63/69/71
12 Munster Senior Football medals 1955/58/59/60/61/62/63/64/65/68/69/70
1 All Ireland Junior Football medal with East Kerry 1968/69
Roll of Honour: Hurling
1 All Ireland Junior Hurling medal 1961
4 National Hurling League medals
1 County Senior Championship medal (with Killarney) 1969
4 County Intermediate Championship medals with Killarney
3 County Minor Championship medals with Killarney 1950/51/52
Played 44 championship games in football in 17 seasons
Derry JF Doody