Mick O'Dwyer

Michael O'Dwyer (born 9 June 1936) is an Irish retired Gaelic football manager and former player. He most famously managed the Kerry senior team between 1974 and 1989, during which time he became the county's longest-serving manager and most successful in terms of major titles won. O'Dwyer is regarded as the greatest manager in the history of the game.[1][2][3] He is one of only three men to manage five different counties (he was preceded in reaching this total by Mickey Moran in 2008 and emulated by John Maughan in 2018).[4]

Mick O'Dwyer
Mick O'Dwyer in 2012.jpg
Mick O'Dwyer in 2012
Personal information
Irish name Mícheál Ó Duibhir
Sport Gaelic football
Position Left corner-forward
Born (1936-06-09) 9 June 1936 (age 85)
Waterville, County Kerry, Ireland
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Nickname Micko
Occupation Hotelier
Years Club
South Kerry
Club titles
Kerry titles 3
Years County Apps (scores)
Kerry 48 (6–129)
Inter-county titles
Munster titles 11
All-Irelands 4
All Stars 0
Mick O'Dwyer statue in Waterville

Born in Waterville, County Kerry, O'Dwyer was introduced to Gaelic football by the local national school teacher who organized games between schools in the area. He enjoyed divisional championship success during a thirty-year club career with Waterville. O'Dwyer also won three championship medals with South Kerry.

O'Dwyer made his debut on the inter-county scene at the age of seventeen when he first linked up with the Kerry minor team. An All-Ireland runner-up in this grade, O'Dwyer subsequently made his senior debut during the 1956–57 league. He went on to play a key role for Kerry in attack during a hugely successful era, and won four All-Ireland medals, eleven Munster medals and seven National Football League medals. He was an All-Ireland runner-up on five occasions.

As a member of the Munster inter-provincial team, O'Dwyer won one Railway Cup medal in 1972. Throughout his inter-county career he made 48 championship appearances. O'Dwyer retired from inter-county football following the conclusion of the 1974 championship.

O'Dwyer was appointed manager of the Kerry senior team prior to the start of the 1974-75 league. He went on to lead Kerry through a period of unprecedented provincial and national dominance, winning twenty two major honours. These include eight All-Ireland Championships, including a record-equaling four-in-a-row between 1978 and 1981 and a three-in-a-row between 1984 and 1986, eleven Munster Championships in twelve seasons and three National Leagues, including two league-championship doubles. O'Dwyer simultaneously took charge of the Kerry under-21 team, winning three successive All-Ireland Championships. His tenure in charge of the Munster team saw the province claim six Railway Cups.

After ending his fifteen-year managerial tenure with Kerry, O'Dwyer moved to Leinster where he took charge of Kildare between 1990 and 1994. After making Kildare a competitive footballing force during that period, he was reappointed for a second tenure in 1996. O'Dwyer ended a 42-year provincial famine with the securing of two Leinster titles, while Kildare also made their first All-Ireland final appearance in seventy years. In 2002 O'Dwyer moved to Laois where he helped end a 57-year wait for a Leinster title.

O'Dwyer remained in Leinster after his Laois tenure and began a five-year stint as Wicklow manager in 2006. Wicklow secured the Tommy Murphy Cup in 2007 and brought them to the last 12 in 2009 for the first time ever. O'Dwyer ended his managerial career with an unsuccessful one-year stint in charge of Clare.

Early lifeEdit

Mick O'Dwyer was born on 9 June 1936.[5] He was born in Waterville, County Kerry. He was educated locally at St Finian's national school before later attending Waterville Technical School.

Playing careerEdit

Minor and juniorEdit

O'Dwyer first played for Kerry as a member of the minor team in 1954. He made his debut against Waterford, however, he was dropped from the starting fifteen for the subsequent 4–10 to 1-3 Munster final defeat of Cork. On 26 September 1954, O'Dwyer was listed amongst the substitutes once again for the All-Ireland final against Dublin. Two late goals resulted in a 3–3 to 1–8 defeat for Kerry.

After joining the Kerry junior team in 1955, O'Dwyer won a Munster medal in this grade the following year after a 4–10 to 1–4 defeat of Waterford.


O'Dwyer is his county's top scorer in National Football League history, finishing his career with 19–313 (370) in that competition. As of 2021, he remained in the top ten all-time scorers in that competition, though he had been passed by numerous players including Ronan Carolan of Cavan, Mattie Forde of Wexford, Steven McDonnell of Armagh, Conor McManus of Monaghan, Brian Stafford of Meath and David Tubridy of Clare.[6]


O'Dwyer made his senior debut for Kerry in a 0–9 to 0-6 National Football League defeat of Carlow on the 21 October 1956. He received his first championship start on 2 June 1957 in an infamous and shock 2–5 to 0–10 defeat by Waterford.[7]

In 1958 O'Dwyer was named at right wing-back in his first provincial decider. A 2–7 to 0-3 drubbing of old rivals Cork gave him his first Munster medal.

Early All-Ireland successesEdit

O'Dwyer enjoyed further success in 1959 as Kerry secured the league title. The 2–8 to 1–8 defeat of Derry gave him his first league medal. O'Dwyer later added a second Munster medal to his collection following a 2–15 to 2–8 defeat of Cork. On 27 September 1959, Kerry faced Galway in the All-Ireland decider. Every aspect of that game seemed to go Kerry's way. A punched Tom Long ball was forced into the net by Dan McAuliffe for Kerry's opening goal. McAuliffe struck again when goalkeeper Jimmy Farrell dropped the ball accidentally in the goalmouth, while substitute Garry McMahon slipped as he sent the third into the net in the final few minutes. A 3–7 to 1–4 score line gave Kerry the title and gave O'Dwyer his first All-Ireland medal.

Kerry made it three-in-a-row in Munster in 1960. The 3–15 to 0–8 defeat of Waterford gave O'Dwyer his third provincial medal.[8] A second consecutive All-Ireland final appearance quickly followed on 11 September 1960, with Down providing the opposition. The game was played on an even keel for much of the first-half; however, an important incident turned the game in the Ulster men's favour eleven minutes after the interval. Kevin Mussen's line ball found Dan McCartan who sent in a high forty-yard lob which Kerry goalkeeper Johnny Culloty dropped over the goal-line. Two minutes later Paddy Doherty was pulled down in the square. He converted the subsequent penalty which put Down six points up. An historic final score of 2–10 to 0–8 resulted in a defeat for O'Dwyer's side, while the Sam Maguire Cup crossed the border into Northern Ireland for the first time.[9][10]

Kerry reached the final of the 1960–61 league and, for the second time in three years, Derry were the opponents. The northerners put up little opposition as Kerry steamrolled them to secure a 4–16 to 1–5 victory. It was O'Dwyer's second National League medal. He later collected a fourth successive Munster medal following a 2–13 to 1-4 replay defeat of Cork.

O'Dwyer won a fifth successive provincial title in 1962 following yet another 4–8 to 0-4 trouncing of Cork. On 23 September 1962, Kerry faced Roscommon in what has been described as possibly the worst championship decider of them all. Garry McMahon went into the history books as he scored Kerry's first goal after just thirty five seconds. Kerry fielded the resultant kick-out and Timmy O'Sullivan got the first of Kerry's twelve points of the day. A Don Feeley penalty failed to life the Rossies who fell to the Kingdom by 1–12 to 1–6. It was O'Dwyer's second All-Ireland medal.

All-Ireland defeatsEdit

A largely facile 1–18 to 1-10 of New York secured the 1963 league title for Kerry. It was O'Dwyer's third winners' medal in the secondary competition. He later added a sixth Munster medal to his collection after a 1–18 to 3–7 defeat of Cork.

In the summer of 1964, O'Dwyer's career seemed at an end when he broke both his legs. The first break occurred during a challenge match in Sneem, when a player fell on him. No sooner was he out of plaster than his other leg was broken in a county league game. It was a mark of his tenacity that he was named at centre-forward for Kerry's All-Ireland final meeting with Galway on 27 September 1964. The game turned into a battle between Mick O'Connell and Cyril Dunne. The former scored seven of Kerry's points while the latter converted nine. After Galway took a four-point lead in the opening ten minutes they never looked back. A full-time score of 0–15 to 0–10 resulted in a defeat for O'Dwyer's side.[11]

After a one-year absence, O'Dwyer won a seventh Munster medal in 1965 as Limerick were defeated by 2–16 to 2–7.[12] On 26 September 1965, Kerry faced Galway in the All-Ireland decider for the second year in succession. Galway raced out of the starting blocks once again; however, the game was not without incident. Kerry's Derry O'Shea and Galway's John Donnellan were sent-off. Major scoring threat Mick O'Connell was curtailed; however, Kerry launched a great comeback. In the end the 0–12 to 0–9 score line resulted in Galway retaining the championship for the second year in-a-row.[13] Following this defeat O'Dwyer decided to retire from inter-county football.

Successful returnEdit

After a two-year absence from the Kerry team, O'Dwyer ended his retirement and returned to the starting fifteen in 1968. A 1–21 to 3–8 defeat of reigning champions Cork gave him an eighth Munster medal. Kerry faced old rivals Down in the All-Ireland decider on 22 September 1968. Legendary player Seán O'Neill got the inside of his boot to a rebounding ball for a goal after six minutes to get the northerners on their way. A Brendan Lynch goal for Kerry in the final minute was little more than a consolation as Down won the game by 2–12 to 1–13.

In 1969 O'Dwyer won a fourth league medal following an aggregate 2–33 to 2–24 defeat of New York. He later won a ninth Munster medal as Kerry accounted for old rivals Cork on a 0–16 to 1–4 score line. On 14 September 1969, Kerry faced Offaly in what was the very first championship meeting between the two sides. Kerry goalkeeper Johnny Culloty proved to be the hero of the day. He made two great saves in the first half and another straight after the interval. Kerry held onto a three-point lead from the interval until the final whistle and a 0–10 to 0–7 victory gave O'Dwyer a third All-Ireland medal. He finished off the year by being named Texaco Footballer of the Year.

Kerry made it three-in-a-row in Munster in 1970, with O'Dwyer collecting his tenth provincial medal following a 2–22 to 2–9 defeat of Cork. On 27 September 1970, Kerry faced Meath in the first eighty-minute All-Ireland decider. O'Dwyer's side took an eight-point lead, however, this was cut back to just three by Meath. Din Joe Crowley's "goal of the century" four minutes from the end sealed a 2–19 to 0–18 victory and a fourth All-Ireland medal for O'Dwyer.[14] In winning this title O'Dwyer finished the season as top scorer, as well as joining a unique group of players to win All-Ireland medals in each of three decades.


In 1971 Kerry qualified for the league final once again. Mayo provided the opposition, however, a 0–10 to 0–8 victory gave O'Dwyer a fifth league medal.

Kerry dominated the secondary competition once again in 1972, with O'Dwyer securing a sixth league medal following a 2–11 to 1–9 defeat of Mayo. For the seventh year in succession Kerry faced reigning champions Cork in the subsequent Munster final. A 2–21 to 2–15 victory gave O'Dwyer his eleventh and final Munster medal. Offaly, a team who had won their first ever All-Ireland title the previous year, provided the opposition in the subsequent All-Ireland final on 24 September 1972. Noel Cooney of Offaly and Brendan Lynch of Kerry exchanged goals throughout the game, while Offaly captain Tony McTague converted six points for his side. At the full-time whistle both sides were level on 1–13 apiece. The drawn game four weeks later on 15 October 1972 was another exciting affair. Both sides exchanged tit-for-tat scorers; however, Offaly broke down Kerry's defences after forty eight minutes when Pat Fenning's long speculative ball hopped over the line without anyone touching it. The 1–19 to 0–13 victory for Offaly turned out to be Kerry's biggest ever defeat in an All-Ireland final.

In 1973 Kerry retained their league title for a third successive year. The 2–12 to 0–14 defeat of Offaly gave 37-year-old O'Dwyer his seventh league medal. Kerry later suffered their biggest ever defeat in a provincial decider when Cork accounted for O'Dwyer's side by 5–12 to 1-15.

O'Dwyer remained with the Kerry team during the 1973-74 league season, albeit making just one appearance in a fourth round defeat by Cork. He retired from inter-county football following a challenge game against Sligo prior to the start of the championship.

Management careerEdit

Mick O'Dwyer
Club management
Years Club
1994 – 1998 Waterville
Inter-county management
Years County
2006 – 2011
2003 – 2006
1998 – 2002
1991 – 1994
1975 – 1989
Inter-county titles
County League Province All-Ireland


O'Dwyer retired as a player in 1974 and was appointed manager of the Kerry team in 1975, where he had much success. During his fifteen years as manager O'Dwyer's Kerry teams played in ten All-Ireland finals, winning eight of them. During this period as manager, five of his players won a magical 8 Senior All-Ireland medals. Four of his players won 8 Texaco Awards and overall his players won 71 All Stars Awards. O'Dwyer retired as Kerry manager in 1989 but moved onto other teams. His management career with Kerry spanned between 1975 – 1989, a period in which Kerry played 55 games, which they won 43, lost seven and drew five.

O'Dwyer has also been credited with beginning "unsanctioned commercialism" within Gaelic games when he had the Kerry team arrived at the 1982 Munster Senior Football Championship final in Adidas-branded sportswear in exchange for £10,000 that went towards a team holiday fund. Then, on the morning of the 1985 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final, O'Dwyer and his Kerry players featured in an advertisement for Bendix washing machines, with the line "Only Bendix could whitewash this lot".[15]


As manager of the Kildare team in 1998, O'Dwyer led them to a Leinster title and an All-Ireland final; however, they narrowly lost out to Galway by four points. His management career with Kildare lasted two periods, the first was 1991–1994 and the second was 1997–2002. He managed the county in 33 games, with 16 wins, 11 losses and six draws.


He took over the Laois team in 2002 which he led to a Leinster title in 2003 and 2004. Laois also reached the Leinster final under O'Dwyer in both the 2005 and 2006 seasons. At the beginning of the football championship in 2006 O'Dywer announced that 2006 would be his last season with Laois; however, he had not ruled out moving as manager to another team. It was first revealed on 6 September 2006 that O'Dwyer would not be staying on at Laois for another season having made his final appearance as Laois manager against Kerry in the All-Ireland Semi finals.[16] His Laois career between 2003 and 2006, included 19 games, which finished as 11 wins, five losses and three draws.


In 2006, O'Dwyer took charge of the Wicklow senior football team.[17] He made his debut as Wicklow manager with a win against Carlow in the 2007 O'Byrne Cup.[18]

On 5 July 2009, Wicklow defeated Fermanagh 0–17 to 1–11. This marked a milestone for O'Dwyer as it meant he had beat every other county during his terms as manager of different teams.[19]

On 16 July 2011, O'Dwyer announced the end of his tenure as Wicklow manager following defeat to Armagh in Round 3 of the All-Ireland Qualifiers.[20]


On 2 November 2012, it was confirmed that O'Dwyer had been ratified as manager of the Clare senior football team for the 2013 season.[21] He stepped down in the summer of 2013 due to an unsuccessful year.[22]

Personal lifeEdit

O'Dwyer worked as a hotelier, as well as running an undertaker service.


As playerEdit


As managerEdit






See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Breheny, Martin (14 March 2013). "Championship is all that matters in Kerry – Micko". Independent.ie. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  2. ^ Hogan, Vincent (16 January 2014). "Vincent Hogan: 'Outsider' O'Dwyer – quite simply Gaelic football's greatest manager". Independent.ie. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  3. ^ "End of era as Micko announces retirement after storied career". Independent.ie. 16 January 2014. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  4. ^ Keys, Colm (29 August 2018). "Maughan completes 'slam' with Offaly". Independent.ie. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  5. ^ "Mick O'Dwyer turns 85". Hogan Stand. 9 June 2021.
  6. ^ "Banner hero David Tubridy already has more history in his sights after becoming highest league scorer of all time". Irish Independent. 1 June 2021.
  7. ^ Murphy, John (20 May 2006). "When Deise ruled the Kingdom". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  8. ^ "Waterford boss sticks with winning fifteen". Irish Examiner. 29 May 2007. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  9. ^ Breheny, Martin (17 September 2009). "1960: Down break new ground for a rich harvest". Independent.ie. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  10. ^ McGeary, Michael (18 August 2010). "Down to look back to 1960 All Ireland winning team". Belfast Telegraph. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  11. ^ Breheny, Martin (3 December 2014). "Breheny Beat: Galway heroes revisit swinging sixties". Independent.ie. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  12. ^ "Dual dilemma: The Limerick experience". Irish Times. 18 June 2001. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  13. ^ Fitzpatrick, Richard (18 September 2015). "Referees can end up being centre stage in All-Ireland finals". Irish Times. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  14. ^ "Kerry Players on All-Ireland Win 1970". RTÉ Archives. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  15. ^ "Dean caught between a Rock and a hard place over training sessions". RTÉ. 23 July 2020.
  16. ^ "Reports say O'Dwyer has left Laois". RTÉ Sport. 6 September 2006. Retrieved 7 January 2007.
  17. ^ "Micko to take reins in Wicklow". Hogan Stand. 7 October 2006. Retrieved 7 January 2007.
  18. ^ "Phibbs strike gives O'Dwyer winning start". Setanta Sports. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 7 January 2007.
  19. ^ "O'Dwyer notches up another milestone". The Irish Times. 6 July 2009.
  20. ^ "Mick O'Dwyer: What does the future hold?". RTÉ Sport. 17 July 2011. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  21. ^ "Mick O'Dwyer ratified as Clare boss". RTÉ Sport. 3 November 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  22. ^ "Mick O'Dwyer steps down after Laois blow Clare away". Independent.ie. Independent News & Media. 6 July 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013.

External linksEdit

Preceded by Texaco Footballer of the Year
Succeeded by
Sporting positions
Preceded by Kerry Senior Football Manager
Succeeded by
Preceded by Kildare Senior Football Manager
Succeeded by
Preceded by Kildare Senior Football Manager
Succeeded by
Preceded by Laois Senior Football Manager
Succeeded by
Preceded by Wicklow Senior Football Manager
Succeeded by
Preceded by All-Ireland Senior Football Final
winning manager

Succeeded by
Preceded by All-Ireland Senior Football Final
winning manager

Succeeded by
Preceded by All-Ireland Senior Football Final
winning manager

Succeeded by