With all sides dead level heading into the final game of the opening phase of the Club Championship, it all comes down to this for Rathmore, Legion, Kerins O’Rahilly’s and Dr Crokes.
It’s as close to a good old-fashioned Mexican standoff as you can get - without the unwelcome possibility of getting hit with a stray bullet.
Just like all those old westerns where enemies from multiple posses square off, draw their guns and face each other in one decisive moment, Saturday’s showdown will leave only one party standing.
A single mistake could be the difference between life (the final) and death (the dreaded relegation playoff).
It really is an incredible state of affairs and not one you’ll see too often in any competition in any sport. There is just no separating these four teams.
Crokes beat Legion. Legion beat Rahilly’s. Rahilly’s beat Rathmore. Rathmore beat Crokes. When the draw was made, Group 2 was nicknamed the Group of Death but ironically it’s the only group at any grade – Senior, Intermediate, Junior Premier or Junior – in which all four teams are still alive.
The permutations (which are listed in detail opposite), though fascinating, are enough to give Will Hunting a headache. One kick of the ball could be the difference between the final and potential relegation. Things probably won’t become clear until the very death.
One thing’s for sure: we’re in for high drama when these great old foes face off at 6.30pm tomorrow evening.
Rathmore v Legion
Last weekend, Rathmore managed what Legion couldn’t by beating the Crokes, while Legion managed what Rathmore couldn’t by beating Rahilly’s. In a way, that typifies the recent history of these two teams. While both have shown flashes of brilliance, and in Rathmore’s case they have even won some silverware, a lack of consistency when it comes to championship has been a problem.
These two East Kerry heavyweights know each other inside out by this stage and Legion came out on top of their most recent encounter when they defeated Rathmore in the opening round of last year’s County Championship. That away win gave the Derreen club a lot of confidence as Rathbeg is a notoriously difficult place to get a result. Winning there in consecutive games is a tall order but Stephen Stack will be encouraged by the character his side showed down the stretch in last Sunday’s victory over Rahilly’s.
Legion and Rathmore currently occupy first and second in Group 2 by virtue of their slightly superior points difference but that particular statistic will only come into play if more than two teams are level once the dust has settled - or if there are two draws on Saturday. Surely not?
Kerins O’Rahilly’s v Dr Crokes
Crokes were probably expecting a bit of a hangover after their All-Ireland bid came to an end, especially with the change in management and some experienced players standing aside, but, nevertheless, losing twice in quick succession will not sit too well with Kerry’s reigning club champions.
They also came mightily close to losing to Legion two weeks ago so things aren’t going very smoothly for Edmund O’Sullivan’s side at the moment. Another slip-up this weekend and they could easily be facing the unthinkable: a relegation playoff. Of course, the same can be said about every team in Group 2 but the very idea of the three-in-a-row county champions being demoted to Intermediate is startling in and of itself.
Rahilly’s had their opportunities against Legion last weekend but losing Jack Savage (red card) and Gavin O’Brien (injured) didn’t help their chances of securing two crucial points.
Kerry stars Tommy Walsh and David Moran (both injured) were forced to watch on from the sidelines and if they and O’Brien are unavailable for Saturday’s showdown, you’d have to say that it will very much be advantage Dr Crokes.
Verdict: Dr Crokes by two.
To make the final, Rathmore need to win and hope Dr Crokes beat/draw with Rahilly’s. If Rathmore lose, they will avoid the relegation playoff if Dr Crokes also lose.
To make the final, Legion need to win and hope Rahilly’s beat/draw with Crokes. If Legion lose, they will avoid the relegation playoff if Rahilly’s also lose.
To make the final, Rahilly’s need to win and hope Rathmore beat/draw with Legion. If Rahilly’s lose, they will avoid the relegation playoff if Rathmore also lose.
To make the final, Dr Crokes need to win and hope Legion beat/draw with Rathmore. If Dr Crokes lose, they will avoid the relegation playoff if Legion also lose.
If one game is a draw, the teams involved in the drawn game will finish 2nd and 3rd.
If both games are drawn, Rathmore and Legion will be level on points difference but Rathmore will advance to the final on points for. Legion will finish second. Rahilly's and Dr Crokes will also be level on points difference but Rahilly's will finish third on points for. Dr Crokes will finish fourth and play in the relegation playoff.
Pic: Micheál Burns (Dr Crokes), Paul Murphy (Rathmore), Tommy Walsh (Rahilly's) and James O'Donoghue (Legion). Artwork by Adam Moynihan.
Relegation battle has town divided
By Sean Moriarty This is bigger than the county final itself – with the main prize on offer being bragging rights in the town. After an unprecedented run of events during this year’s Kerry Senior Football championship Killarney’s two biggest clubs, Dr Crokes and Killarney Legion are set to face off in a relegation battle […]
By Sean Moriarty
This is bigger than the county final itself – with the main prize on offer being bragging rights in the town.
After an unprecedented run of events during this year’s Kerry Senior Football championship Killarney’s two biggest clubs, Dr Crokes and Killarney Legion are set to face off in a relegation battle that is sure to divide the town.
In sporting terms, the outcome of the big game, set for December 5, is simple enough. The winner stays in the Senior Championship next season and the losers will have to play in the Intermediate Championship.
Fans of the black and amber or the green and white face an anxious week. Winning the county title is one thing – consigning your cross town rivals to second division football in football is altogether a bigger prize.
Senior officials from both clubs are being very guarded on a potential outcome as both sides know the significance of this play off.
“It is a pity that two Killarney clubs, with a long tradition of playing football in the top tier, find themselves in the position of having to play off to avoid relegation,” Matt O’Neill, Cathaoirleach of Dr Crokes, told the Killarney Advertiser.
“Both teams will fight tooth and nail to stay in the senior ranks. I am confident that on Sunday week our lads will do themselves and the club proud, as always, and give their all in the quest to keep the black and amber to the fore.”
Crokes are based off the Lewis Road with Legion a short distance away on the other side of the bypass.
“Everyone has an opinion on this,” Legion PRO, Elaine O’Donoghue, told the Killarney Advertiser. “Both sides will be nervous – may the best team win. There are a lot of questions, are the Crokes suffering after defeat to Kerins O’Rahillys [in the semi-final]? Are our lads suffering after losing to St Brendan’s for the third year in a row?”
Every football fan will be keeping a close eye on next weekend’s Intermediate County Final too which takes place on December 4.
The winners of the match between Beaufort and Tralee side Na Gael will be automatically promoted to replace the losers of the Killarney play-off in the Senior Championship next season.
Should Beaufort prevail, a (relatively) local team could replace a town team in the top flight.
Handball off the wall in Killarney
By Con Dennehy The popularity of handball as one of the fastest growing sports in Kerry is set to continue in the East Kerry region with the continued development of Spa/Killarney Handball Club. On Monday night the progressive club hosts a Beginners and Advanced League at their magnificent indoor facility located at the Spa GAA grounds […]
By Con Dennehy
The popularity of handball as one of the fastest growing sports in Kerry is set to continue in the East Kerry region with the continued development of Spa/Killarney Handball Club.
On Monday night the progressive club hosts a Beginners and Advanced League at their magnificent indoor facility located at the Spa GAA grounds in Killarney. The club boasts two state-of-the-art indoor handball walls which were designed and built by local player and sportsman Mike Casey. It was opened in May 2018.
“On Monday night the games will tip off at 7pm with 11 players in the Advanced League and seven in the Beginners League. The format of the competition will see quarter finals in the first round progressing to overall winners on the night. It promises to be a great night of exciting handball and we welcome spectators,” said Eoin O’Donoghue, secretary of the club.
Competitors taking part in the Beginners League are Sheila Kelliher, Elena O’Donoghue, Niamh Faulds, Rosin King, Brid Horgan, Neill Horgan and Sinead Moriarty.
Players signed up for the Advanced League include Aoife Walsh, John Daniel Cronin, Eoin O’Donoghue, Kieran O’Brien, Brendan O’Donoghue, Michael Clifford, Evan Enright, Eoghan Daly, Brian McEvoy, Jerry Cronin and Maggie Quirke.
One player set to receive a warm welcome will be Brendan O’Donoghue. At the 2019 All-Ireland Hardball championships in Mayo, Brendan became the first Spa/Killarney man to win an All-Ireland Handball medal. He achieved this unique and much publicised honour in the highly ranked Master’s 55 B final.
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