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5 reasons to be cheerful ahead of the Mayo game (and 5 more to be fearful)

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by Adam Moynihan

It appears as though the four-week layoff has done little to dent the confidence of the green and gold faithful. An informal poll carried out on Twitter revealed that 88.9% of my followers are expecting Kerry to beat Mayo in the All-Ireland quarter-final. Over half of the 323 respondents think the margin of victory will be four points or more.

The team’s league form was certainly encouraging and they did all that was asked of them in Munster, so perhaps it is only natural that fans are anticipating another victory and safe passage to a semi-final against Dublin.

There must be some niggling doubts, however, even if they appear to be buried deep in the back of supporters’ minds at this particular moment in time.

Here are some reasons to be optimistic, followed by some factors that should make us wary of what might come to pass on Jones’ Road on Sunday afternoon.

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL

1. Form. Taking into account league and championship (and pre-season too if you want to go back that far) Kerry have been the best and most consistent team in Ireland so far this year. They won three out of three in the McGrath Cup, six out of eight in the league and two out of two in Munster, all while playing a decent brand of football. The only game they lost was irrelevant from their perspective – and it came against the All-Ireland champions who were fighting for their Division 1 status.

Crucially, key players like Gavin White, Paudie Clifford, Seán O’Shea and David Clifford have all been moving well. In the forwards, Stephen O'Brien and Paul Geaney are also back at it, and Adrian Spillane has given the team an edge. When it comes to each side's forward divisions, there's no denying that Kerry hold most of the aces.

2. The League Final. Kerry’s last meeting against this opponent was a totally one-sided demolition job. Jack O’Connor’s side defeated Mayo by 3-19 to 0-13 in April’s league final at Croke Park with Man of the Match David Clifford scoring 1-6 (1-5 from play). In March, Kerry also beat Mayo in the league in Tralee (1-12 to 0-14).

3. The Defence. After being the butt of the joke for a number of years, Kerry’s defence seems to have made significant improvements in 2022. Jason Foley has been excellent at full back while Tadhg Morley has made the No. 6 jersey his own. Add to that the speed and guile of Tom O’Sullivan, Brian Ó Beaglaoich, Gavin White and Graham O’Sullivan and you have a pretty settled and assured back six. Goalkeeper Shane Ryan has also impressed of late.

4. The Jack Factor. Jack O’Connor has ticked all the right boxes so far in his third spell as Kerry manager; you would be hard-pressed to find very many sticks to beat him with at this juncture. Up to this point, it appears as though the players have responded very well to his reappointment. The shrewd Dromid man has them playing with confidence.

5. Cliffy is Back. This one speaks for itself.

REASONS TO BE FEARFUL

1. The Layoff. The last thing any intercounty squad wants is a month of inactivity in the middle of the season but that’s exactly what Kerry have had to deal with. It’s farcical really, and there’s absolutely no question that it puts them at a disadvantage heading into this match. Mayo have played two challenging games in recent weeks while Kerry have been left playing amongst themselves.

2. Kerry are Untested. As commanding as Kerry were in Munster, the games were virtually meaningless. If the competition was properly run, they wouldn’t be playing against the likes of Cork or Limerick at all, such is the gulf in talent that currently exists between the teams. Ulster folk can quibble all they want about Kerry’s easy route to the All-Ireland series but the reality is that there’s no substitute for tough, testing championship action. Kerry have sampled none of that in 2022.

3. Croke Park Record. Croke Park is traditionally considered a home away from home for the Kerry footballers but their recent record at HQ leaves plenty to be desired. They have won just twice in their last 10 visits to the capital and their last championship result there – the 2021 All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Tyrone – really stung.

4. Full-Strength Mayo. When you compare Mayo’s starting 15 in the league final to the starting 15 that is likely to take to the field this weekend, you quickly realise how unwise it is to read too much into the last meeting between the teams. James Horan should more or less have a full deck to play with this time and having Oisín Mullin and Paddy Durcan back in the fold is sure to give the match a different complexion.

5. Clifford Under Wraps. In April, Mayo left Pádraig O’Hora completely isolated on David Clifford. The results, from their point of view, were disastrous. With that in mind, James Horan will surely set his defence up differently in an attempt to curtail Clifford’s influence on the game. O'Hora could be entrusted with the task again but whoever gets the nod, we can expect helpers to rush in and suffocate the explosive full forward from the off. If Mayo are successful in this endeavour, it will give them a huge lift - it might even propel them to another famous win.

VERDICT: Complacency on Kerry’s part will be fatal but with a new manager on board and with the chastening defeats of the past two seasons still fresh in their minds, it’s hard to see that being a factor. Mayo could well hit them hard early on but if Kerry are at full strength, they should win this game by 3-5 points.

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Schools compete for pitch and putt title

By Michelle Crean A pitch and putt competition which began in St Oliver’s National School 14 years ago is now gaining momentum with other local schools taking part. Back in […]

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By Michelle Crean

A pitch and putt competition which began in St Oliver’s National School 14 years ago is now gaining momentum with other local schools taking part.

Back in 2007, St Oliver’s pupil Leon Hennessy asked if the school could start a pitch and putt competition.

After much perseverance from Leon, teacher Noel O’Sullivan asked his colleague Tommy Galvin, who they dubbed as their ‘Minister of Sports’, and it was organised for June 2008.

As part of the competition the winner would receive the Brendan Walshe Shield in honour of the former principal of St Oliver’s.

“Over the years we have had various pupils win the shield who have gone on to excel in pitch and putt and golf, including John Kerrisk, Ewan MacIndoe, Stephen and Conor McCarthy, and Brian McCarthy who won it in Fourth Class and Sixth Class, denied a trio of victories by the lockdown in 2020, when he was in Fifth Class,” Noel told the Killarney Advertiser.

“Tommy Galvin retired last year but we had a regular chat about opening up the competition to other schools. So this year I decided to make this idea happen and though the idea was thrown out there late enough in May, Lissivigeen, the Monastery and the Gaelscoil were in a position to enter a team in June.

“We had a very high standard of pitch and putt, and the winning score came from a birdie on the last, care of the overall individual winner, Dara Wickham of Lissivigeen NS. That birdie handed Lissivigeen the overall victory.”

It was decided to name the shield for this new inter schools’ competition the ‘Tommy Galvin Shield’ as it would be a fitting recognition of Tommy’s work promoting pitch and putt, and golf in the primary schools in Killarney.

“Tommy was surprised and delighted with the news which we sprung on him at the prize giving. He encouraged the boys and girls present to give pitch and putt, and golf a go, and to try new sports over the summer.”

Tommy is captain of the Killarney Golf Club and supports an excellent youth set up in the club, he added.

“The Killarney Golf Club also has seen a huge growth in girls playing and we were delighted to have three girls compete in the pitch and putt competition. Cora O’Sullivan won the Best Girl prize which makes me a very proud father!

“Hopefully next year the Tommy Galvin Shield will feature more schools and that this is the beginning of a hotly contested competition over the coming years!”

He thanked Deerpark Pitch and Putt Club for their sponsorship.

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Kerry book Dublin date with eight-point victory over Mayo

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Adam Moynihan reports from Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC Quarter-Final

Kerry 1-18 Mayo 0-13

HT: Kerry 1-7 Mayo 0-9

He wasn’t going to play at all according to the pre-match rumours but a beautiful first-half goal by David Clifford helped Kerry to a surprisingly comfortable victory over Mayo this evening.

Although he limped through much of the game, Kerry’s No. 14 burst into life in the 28th minute to fire his side into a two-point lead.

It wasn’t all plain-sailing thereafter – The Kingdom struggled to push on, even when Aidan O’Shea was black-carded moments later – but they did ultimately pull away in the second half thanks in no small part to another assured defensive performance.

Next up: a date with Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final in two weeks’ time.

STRANGE

The so-called curtain-raiser was a hard act to follow and the first half of this game was accompanied by a strange atmosphere; it was as though the crowd were as drained by the opening match as the Armagh and Galway players must have been following their penalty shootout drama.

The second match was delayed by a full hour, which surely didn’t help Kerry and Mayo in their preparations.

Kerry star Clifford was rumoured to be struggling with an injury right up until throw-in but he did take to the field, although he required treatment almost immediately when he went over on his ankle in front of the Canal End. Nevertheless, he registered Kerry’s first score of the day, a free to cancel out Cillian O’Connor’s opener.

Gavin White gave Kerry the lead with a neat finish in the third minute but then two well-taken scores by Conor Loftus and Aidan O’Shea edged Mayo in front.

Paul Geaney missed a great goal chance in the 11th minute before Kerry re-established their lead via Tom O’Sullivan and another Clifford free.

Seán O’Shea and Geaney took Kerry’s total to 0-6 but points at the other end by O’Connor, Rob Hennelly, Jack Carney and Stephen Coen had Mayo ahead with seven minutes left in the period.

Then Clifford struck for goal after being set up by Stephen O’Brien, and when O’Shea was sent to the bin the signs were ominous for Mayo.

James Horan’s men managed the binning well, however, and scores by O’Connor and Kevin McLoughin – either side of a fine effort by David Moran – made it a one-point game at the break.

RUN

The opening stages of the second were nip and tuck with neither team really grabbing the match by the scruff of the neck but a run of seven straight points between the 51st and 67th minutes sealed the result. Moran (who rather unexpectedly – and very encouragingly – played the full 70 minutes), Tom O’Sullivan, Geaney (three), Killian Spillane and Seán O’Shea all found the target during this period.

Kerry now have two weeks to prepare for the challenge of Dublin. Speaking post-game, Jack O’Connor said he reckons David Clifford will be sore tomorrow. One suspects that his best player will be wrapped up in cotton wool for the next few days at least.

KERRY: S Ryan; G O’Sullivan (0-1), J Foley, T O’Sullivan (0-3); B Ó Beaglaoich, G White (0-1), T Morley; D O’Connor, D Moran (0-2); D Moynihan, Seán O’Shea (0-3, 1f), S O’Brien; P Clifford, D Clifford (1-3, 1m), P Geaney (0-4, 1m).

Subs: K Spillane for Moynihan (48), P Murphy for Ó Beaglaoich (58), M Burns for O’Brien (59), J O’Connor for D O’Connor (65), T Brosnan for Clifford (67), G Crowley for Foley (73 temp).

MAYO: R Hennelly (0-1f); L Keegan, O Mullin, E Hession; P Durcan, S Coen (0-1), E McLaughlin; A O’Shea (0-1), M Ruane (0-1); J Flynn (0-2), D O’Connor, C Loftus (0-1); K McLoughlin (0-1), J Carney (0-1), C O’Connor (0-3, 1f).

Subs: J Carr (0-1) for Carney (HT), F Boland for Loftus (52), A Orme for McLaughlin (58), P O’Hora for O’Shea (64), P Towey for Orme (73).

Attendance: 71,353

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