Joe Grimes: The Kerryman thriving with Cork 

Joe Grimes: The Kerryman thriving with Cork 

He’s the Kerryman in the Cork corner.

And no, we’re not talking about selector Ray Keane, younger brother of recently departed Kerry manager Peter.

Although the Cork football team for tomorrow afternoon’s McGrath Cup decider has yet to be named, the expectation is that Listowel native Joe Grimes will continue at midfield for Keith Ricken’s side.

Having made his Cork senior debut when donning the number nine shirt for the county’s McGrath Cup opener away to Clare on January 8, Grimes was again selected in the middle of the park for the county’s second Group A outing three days later.

So, how has it come about that a son of Listowel will wear the red of Cork against his native county this weekend?

Towards the end of the last decade, Garda Joseph Grimes took up station in Clonakilty. And while he initially made the long journey back to North Kerry for training and games with both Listowel Emmets and divisional side Feale Rangers, the 250km round-trip wasn’t a sustainable one.

The transferring of allegiances to Clonakilty came ahead of the 2020 Covid-disrupted season, Grimes plying his trade between midfield and the half-back line during the club’s short-lived stay in that year’s county senior championship.

Under new management, Clon went a great deal further in 2021, Grimes an influential figure at midfield as the men from West Cork reached a first county final — where they fell to the Barrs by the minimum — in 12 years.

“Joe was something that was missing from Clonakilty, we didn’t have a big midfielder,” remarked Clon selector Eoin Ryan.

“He had a very good season for Clon, no doubt about that. We wouldn’t have got to the county final without any of them, Joe included. He is full of heart, very athletic, and very willing to do the hard work.”

Over in Listowel, they kept a keen eye on Grimes and Clon’s progress through the Cork championship.

Listowel Emmets clubman and Feale Rangers chairman Christy Walsh is the proprietor of Christy’s Bar in the North Kerry town.

The pub streamed both the Cork semi-final and final, with a number of cars also travelling across to Páirc Uí Chaoimh for the Clonakilty-St Finbarr’s decider.

Grimes’ subsequent Cork call-up means local interest is similarly strong ahead of tomorrow’s game.

Indeed, he’s the second Listowel native in recent times, after Conor Cox with Roscommon, to don a county shirt that is not green and gold.

“While Joe’s home is in Cork at the moment, his family and best friends are still in Listowel. That will probably continue for a long time.”

Walsh, though, is fully cognisant that Grimes’ progress in recent years, leading as it has to an inter-county call-up, might not have materialised were it not for his move across the border

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