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Is Kerry’s squad deep enough to go all the way?

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It wasn’t the most enthralling of opening day encounters but Kerry’s 2019 Munster Senior Football Championship is officially up and running following last weekend’s 1-15 to 0-12 victory over Clare.

The Kingdom, who were 1/80 pre-match favourites to advance to their seventh consecutive Munster final, bossed much of the game and led by 12 with 50 minutes on the clock. Peter Keane’s men struggled thereafter, however, and they were outscored by eight points to two down the stretch, leaving some observers a little anxious about this young team’s prospects for the rest of the summer.

Such concern might seem a bit premature, especially when you consider that conditions were poor in Cusack Park and, more importantly, the game was already won.

It’s also worth noting that a number of probable starters were, for various reasons, not on the field for that final 20 minutes or so. David Moran had been lost to a black card; Gavin Crowley, Jack Sherwood, Stephen O’Brien and James O’Donoghue had been substituted; Dara Moynihan, Paul Murphy and Jack Barry weren’t togged. It’s perhaps a little unfair level much blame at the subs for the drop-off in intensity; coming off the bench isn’t always easy.

It is also true, however, that the top teams need to finish as strongly as they start, so the 15 that Kerry have out there in the 70th minute needs to be just as good as the 15 that followed the band around the pitch an hour and a half earlier.

Keane assembled a 40-man extended panel when he took over the job but that appears to have been cut to 36 for the championship (information isn’t readily available so I’m open to correction on that). Injury is currently ruling out Peter Crowley and Kevin McCarthy, Michael Potts has been released to the U20s and Shane Murphy, Mark Ryan and Tom Leo O’Sullivan are also gone.

Meanwhile, Liam Kearney and Danny Sheahan have linked up with the team in recent weeks.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 36 (or so) players who are all vying for a spot in Kerry’s 26-man matchday squad for the Munster final and beyond.

THE CANDIDATES

Shane Ryan appears to be Peter Keane’s first choice for the No. 1 shirt with Brian Kelly providing back-up. Two goalkeepers is realistically plenty for any team barring injuries and between Ryan and Kelly, Kerry should be covered.

The Kingdom have a degree of fluidity about their back line with many players capable of playing in multiple positions. Most of the nominal corner backs can play wing back. Most of the wing backs can play corner. Guys like Tadhg Morley, Jack Sherwood and Gavin White can also play a number of positions so Peter Keane has lots of options in this department.

The midfield area has been problematic for this burgeoning Kerry team but David Moran plus Jack Barry appears to be the most qualified pairing. After that there isn’t whole pile of experience in reserve. Mark Griffin’s minutes at midfield have been limited while Adrian Spillane has only just made his championship debut.

Spa’s Liam Kearney is also in training at the moment and he is a player with a lot of potential, although it would be highly irregular for a newcomer to be utilised at this stage of the season having not played senior in the past. That’s not to say it wouldn’t work, just that it isn’t often attempted.

Diarmuid O’Connor has been tried out at midfield but the Na Gaeil youngster has fared a bit better at half forward so far.

Considering how well he played in the league, you would expect Dara Moynihan to come back into the starting 15 once fit and the rest of the forward line more or less picks itself at this stage. The hamstring injury picked up by James O’Donoghue against Clare is naturally a concern but management are hopeful that he will be okay for the Cork clash on June 22.

Micheál Burns came off the bench and kicked a point last weekend and that’s good news for the Crokes man, who missed the National League campaign due to club commitments.

Gavin O’Brien caught the eye in the spring but an injury picked up against Legion in the Club Championship appears to have curtailed his year somewhat, although there is still plenty of time to change all of that yet. O’Brien’s Rahilly’s clubmate Tommy Walsh also impressed in the league and he is likely to see more game time over the course of the summer.

Legion’s Jonathan Lyne has been there or thereabouts all year (he made an appearance late on in Ennis) while Michael and Conor Geaney have also been consistent members of Peter Keane’s matchday squad throughout the 2019 campaign to date.

With all that being said, do Kerry have the strength in depth to challenge Dublin and Mayo for this year’s All-Ireland?

There’s plenty of ability at the back. Whether or not that translates to solidity when it matters most remains to be seen but generally speaking you would have to be encouraged by Peter Keane’s defence up to this point.

Midfield is an area of concern purely because of Moran’s injury history and the lack of experience in reserve.

There is also no doubting the fact that Kerry will lean heavily on their scoring forwards (i.e. Seán O'Shea, James O’Donoghue, David Clifford and Paul Geaney) and the back-up in that regard is still largely unproven.

All in all, this Kerry squad is still very much a work in progress. The potential there is undeniable but some players in that depth chart aren’t quite the finished article just yet.

But if (and it's a big 'if') Peter Keane can keep his star players fit, Kerry should have enough about them to make waves in this year’s championship.

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NPWS survey to find out impact of fires

By Michelle Crean The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has commissioned a comprehensive survey on the impact of fires over the past four decades – in particular Killarney National Park in April. The tender, worth €300,000, and named ‘Study on the Impact of Fires On The Biodiversity of Killarney National Park’, seeks to find […]

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By Michelle Crean

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has commissioned a comprehensive survey on the impact of fires over the past four decades – in particular Killarney National Park in April.

The tender, worth €300,000, and named ‘Study on the Impact of Fires On The Biodiversity of Killarney National Park’, seeks to find out the biological impacts of the fires in the 26,000 acre park.

The fires in April burned from Friday night on April 23 until around 12pm the following Monday when they were finally brought under control.

Parts of the Park were scorched resulting in flora and fauna being wiped out. Some fires came as close as 10 metres to a church and school in the Black Valley area.

Fires raged near Tomies Wood and fire crews from five different districts quenched fires near the properties under threat. A real threat was for The Oak Woods but fire fighters managed to avert danger.

The fire is believed to have begun on the Kenmare Road area escalated by the strong winds.

“The purpose of this tender is to commission a comprehensive survey of the impacts, and the chrono-sequence of fire recovery or otherwise, on lands burned over the past four decades, as well as surveys in unburned areas, in order to assess the biological impacts of the fires, in particular the fire of April 2021, on the biodiversity of Killarney National Park,” an NPWS spokesperson told the Killarney Advertiser.

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Killarney spin will bring comfort to patients

By Michelle Crean Ahead of this year’s ladies only 54321 Challenge a number of spinathons are taking place, including in Killarney town. Sunday, August 15 a group of 10 ladies plan a spinathon day in Killarney ahead of their four day epic adventure from Thursday, August 19 to Sunday 22. This year due to COVID […]

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By Michelle Crean

Ahead of this year’s ladies only 54321 Challenge a number of spinathons are taking place, including in Killarney town.

Sunday, August 15 a group of 10 ladies plan a spinathon day in Killarney ahead of their four day epic adventure from Thursday, August 19 to Sunday 22.

This year due to COVID restrictions the 54321 team will run with two teams of five people, all female – who are raising funds for one single charity – Comfort for Chemo Kerry.

Their four day challenge will include a cycle the Ring of Kerry on day one (Thursday 19), a climb up Carrantuohil on day two (Friday 20), a cycle from Killarney to the foot of Cnoc Na Tobair and then climb Cnoc Na Tobair on day three (Saturday 21) finishing off with a cycle of the Skellig Ring on day four (Sunday 22).

In advance of the ninth annual challenge they will first participate in the spinathons at various locations to help raise much needed funds for this year’s chosen charity.

The first of the spinathons will take place on Saturday, July 31 in Listowel, Killorglin, Dingle, Cahersiveen. On the day volunteers will take to the spinning bikes from 10am to 5pm in different locations around these towns.
This will be followed by Killarney on Sunday, August 15, and Tralee on Saturday, August 28.

When choosing this year’s charity, organisers contacted a past participant and a dear friend, Mairead Dunphy from Glencar who is currently on her own journey with cancer.

“We wanted to show our support to Mairead and knowing that she would like to support those who have supported her on her journey so far, she had already being looking at ideas to raise much needed funds for Comfort for Chemo Kerry,” TJ O’Connor said.

“Please support Comfort for Chemo Kerry by giving what you can.”

For more information about the spinathons go to www.54321challenge.org or the Comfort for Chemo Kerry Facebook page for online donation information.

There’s also a GoFundMe page: ‘Comfort for Chemo Kerry – 54321 Challenge 2021’ which has a €20,000 target set up.

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