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The County Final: Six things to watch out for

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1. Selection headaches for O’Shea

Although the majority of the Crokes starters are set in stone, there are definitely a few places up for grabs in Pat O’Shea’s County Final line-up.

In both the quarter final and semi-final, the Crokes failed to line out as selected so realistically we won’t know the actual team until they take to the field this afternoon.

Chris Brady was listed at full forward but didn’t feature in either of the last two games, while Kieran O’Leary was a late withdrawal from the West Kerry match due to injury. Shane Doolan was also left out despite being named at halfback as Luke Quinn, Michael Moloney and Tony Brosnan all played from the start. Jordan Kiely came off the bench and tucked away two tidy goals so he’s sure to be in the mix as well.

All of these lads will be hoping that they’ve done enough over the past couple of weeks to earn a place in the starting fifteen. In truth, the Crokes have so much strength in depth at the moment they could choose any combination of the aforementioned players and still have too much for most teams in the county.

2. Gooch is still the top dog

With all the controversy surrounding his testimonial, Colm Cooper’s expertly-taken goal in the semi-final was a timely reminder of his unique talent and what a great ambassador he has been for the GAA over the past 15 years or so.

And it wasn’t just a nostalgia-inducing cameo either. Gooch is Crokes’ top scorer in this year’s Championship with 4-14 in four games. Around half of those points have come from frees but even if you only count scores from play, the Kerry legend has still outgunned the rest of his teammates:

Colm Cooper: 4-14 (3-5 from play)

Daithí Casey: 3-8 (2-5 from play)

Kieran O’Leary: 3-4 (all from play)

He was named Man of the Match against West Kerry (which may have been a bit generous to be fair) but the 34-year-old’s influence on this Crokes team can’t be underestimated. Expect him to play a big role again.

3. Murphy’s perfect record

Crokes keeper Shane Murphy has been in imperious form. He was pivotal throughout his debut season in 2016 and remarkably he is yet to concede a goal in this year’s Championship. Of course, a lot of that has been down to the defenders in front of him but Murphy has been consistently excellent when called upon.

His kick-outs against West Kerry were phenomenal, so much so that a few spectators in the crowd were wondering aloud if he should be awarded Man of the Match.

In addition to his shot-stopping and distribution, Murphy is one of only three Crokes players (along with Cooper and Casey) to have scored in all four Championship games to date. He has kicked a 45 in each outing.

4. Can Bryan Sheehan drag his team over the line yet again?

Not for the first time in his long and storied career, the St Mary’s talisman was hugely instrumental in South Kerry’s narrow victory over Rahilly’s in the semi-final two weeks ago. He kicked three crucial points from play and would have had a goal but for an incredible goal-line block by Danny O’Sullivan in the 45th minute.

He might not be as deadly a free-taker as he once was but he still has the character and skill to carry his team through the toughest of battles. Sheehan will need to be at his inspirational best if South Kerry are to pull off a shock upset.

5. History favours South Kerry

Recent form points to only one winner but a quick glance at the history books reveals one worrying statistic for the Crokes. The men from Lewis Road have only lost three of the nine finals they’ve reached since the year 2000, and all three defeats came at the hands of South Kerry.

Eleven of the current panel were involved in the most recent of those finals back in 2009. That particular loss was somewhat of a watershed moment as that group of players went on to win four in a row but there are certainly still a few ghosts to be laid to rest from a Crokes point of view.

Victory for Crokes would bring them level with Austin Stacks and Laune Rangers as the most successful teams in the history of the County Championship (twelve titles).

6. What do the bookies think?

South Kerry lifted the Bishop Moynihan Cup as recently as 2015 and have been far and away the second most successful team in Kerry over the past twenty years or so, yet Crokes are still overwhelming favourites to prevail.

Their price of 1/5 might seem a bit crazy for a County Final but Crokes have a proven track record of overpowering teams in big games. In fact, I would imagine there will be no shortage of punters backing them in the handicap (-5.0) at 11/10.

As always, I suppose the best tip is to keep your money in your pocket.

 


 
Above: Tony Brosnan, Dr Crokes, battles for possession with Cian O'Murchu, West Kerry, in the Kerry Senior County Football championship semi-final. Pic: Eamonn Keogh

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Black Valley broadband installation gets underway

Works are under way to install a high-speed fibre broadband network in the remote Black Valley area of Kerry. The Black Valley was one of the last areas of Ireland […]

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Works are under way to install a high-speed fibre broadband network in the remote Black Valley area of Kerry.

The Black Valley was one of the last areas of Ireland to be electrified but broadband in the region is expected to be live in the second half of the year with residents already able to pre-order their connection. 
“It is well known that Black Valley was one of the last locations to get electricity due to its remoteness and challenging terrain, so we are extremely pleased to be commencing the rollout of our high-speed fibre network now with a view to connections being available later this year,” said National Broadband Ireland Deployment CEO, TJ Malone.
  
“We are determined to ensure the rollout is as fast as possible and connection is made easy for Black Valley residents, and we have a plan in place to work around the location’s all-important tourist season.

“Black Valley is a symbol of NBI’s mission that no area will be left behind no matter how rural or remote and we are delighted that this beautiful location moves one step closer to high-speed fibre today, with all the opportunities that will unlock for the local community.” 

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Players of the year don’t duck a challenge

They never duck when faced with a big challenge on the field so it was safe to assume that GAA players of the year David Clifford and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh […]

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They never duck when faced with a big challenge on the field so it was safe to assume that GAA players of the year David Clifford and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh weren’t going to shy away from the latest task on their home patch.

The two top footballers in the country teamed up to launch a charity duck race which will form part of this year’s St Patrick’s Festival in Killarney, where they both live.

When the working day was done, busy secondary school teachers David and Louise had some great quack and they got caught up in the spirit of the occasion along the scenic River Deenagh in Killarney National Park.

The reigning Player of the Year and Ladies Player of the Year award winner demonstrated their competitive streak when they expressed confidence that their own ducks will win The Deenagh Duck Dash on the same river at noon on Monday, March 18.

But, luckily, festival chairman Jason Clifford was there to keep the peace and he even threatened to cry fowl and brandish a card at the star players – with duck yellow deemed the most appropriate colour.

Considered by many to be the greatest players of all time in their respective codes, between them, Fossa hotshot David and Corca Dhuibhne star Louise have an incredible nine All-Star awards.

But they might be tempted to swap one if their duck wins the fun-filled race on the day after St Patrick’s Day.

All proceeds from the event will go to St Francis Special School in Beaufort, Killarney which provides specialist education for young people with learning disabilities.
Festival chairman Jason remarked: “This isn’t just a race – it’s great fun for the whole family.
“Picture the scene with a flotilla of vibrant rubber ducks racing down a winding river, their owners cheering them on and all in the name of a fantastic cause”.
Super prizes await the winners, the cost of a rubber duck to participate in the race is just €5 and they can be bought online at https://stpatricksfestivalkillarney.ie/.

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