Helen Dowling, who died 20 years ago on this day (20th March 2001), was one of the outstanding and dedicated members of the Rock Club since she first got involved in 1975 with the establishment of Ladies Football in the Club. For the next 25 years she not alone nurtured football at Club level but she was also involved with Kerry’s Golden Era during that period when their Senior Footballers won 11 All Ireland titles between 1976 and 1993, including nine in a row (1982-1990).
Sixteen Rock footballers were part of those Kerry teams, winning a staggering total of 59 All Ireland medals, with Marina Barry-Walsh involved in 10 of those victories (1982-1990 and 1993). During this period also the Club won five Co. Championship titles (1977, 1979, 1982, 1989 and 1993) with Helen and her husband, Johnny, directly managing the 1982 team.
But Helen’s involvement didn’t just stop with the Ladies as she immersed herself in general Club activities also and ended up as Assistant Secretary of the Senior Men’s Club for the last four seasons of her life. As Kerry’s Eye’s Anne Pullen said in her tribute to Helen two days after she died – ‘Helen’s sense of humour and love of life ensured she was always surrounded by people who sought her friendship’.
Helen is buried in New Rath Cemetery on her gravestone is the inscription ‘A Rock from the Rock’, true sentiments indeed.