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



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.


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.


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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Opinion: GAA violence is worse than UFC violence. Here’s why…



by Adam Moynihan

Back when Conor McGregor rose to prominence, around ten years ago now, the UFC became quite popular in Ireland. The Dubliner’s fights were big events. You’d go in for a pint and hear lads chatting about spinning back fists and rear naked chokes. (Eyebrow-raising terminology, especially if you were only half-listening.)

I never got into MMA. I couldn’t warm to McGregor (it’s nice being right every now and again) but the primary reason is that the spectacle is just too violent for me. I’m aware that some men have enjoyed observing other men getting their heads kicked in since Ancient Rome, and I’m sure long before that as well, so it’s not that I find the existence of combat sports surprising. It’s just that they don’t really appeal to me. I suppose I’m soft.

Give me a good clean game of Gaelic football any day, I would say to no one in particular, as my friends gleefully watched some Brazilian chap getting his face smooshed into the canvas in a blood-soaked flurry of fists and elbows and kneecaps to the nose.

Of course, the irony of my holier-than-though attitude is that the GAA is violent too, and arguably in a worse way. At least in the UFC you know what you’re getting. If you’re participating, there’s a good chance your arm might get ripped out of its socket or your skull might end up with more cavities than it strictly needs. If you’re sitting in the front row, you could get blood spatter on your shirt. You know that when you’re buying your ticket.

On the other hand, the violence in the GAA is a sneakier kind of violence. It’s always there, lurking in the long grass, waiting to show its angry head. Sometimes – in fact, a lot of the time – it doesn’t bother. But when it does reveal itself, things can get very bad, very fast.

Some of the harder bastards amongst you are probably rolling your eyes at this point. Sure, what would the GAA be without physicality, without a skirmish, without the odd belt?

That would be grand if it actually was just the odd belt. On the contrary, some of the violent acts we’ve seen on GAA pitches are far more serious than that. In fact, not only are they bad by GAA standards, they’re even bad by UFC standards.

Yes, some scenes that unfold in Gaelic football and hurling games are too violent and too dangerous for the most violent mainstream sport in the world.

Take the recent Johnny Glynn incident in the Galway hurling championship. The former county footballer was caught on video apparently choking an opponent with his hand fixed around his neck. The prostrate victim was visibly struggling for air. When he got back to his feet, the skin around his throat was badly marked. In typical GAA fashion both players were yellow-carded at the time.

But then, after the fact (no doubt prompted by the reaction on social media), the Galway CCC stepped in to investigate. Glynn received a one-match suspension – the same punishment he’d get if he was sent off for throwing a punch or for calling the referee a bollocks.

Grabbing an opponent around the trachea with the hand is illegal in UFC.

In January, during the All-Ireland Junior Club final at Croke Park, a Stewartstown Harps player aggressively grabbed Fossa’s David Clifford in the groin area. The referee didn’t see it but the TV footage is pretty clear. The incident sparked outrage but, as far as I can tell, no subsequent action was taken against the perpetrator.

Any attack to the groin area, including striking or grabbing, is illegal in UFC.

In 2022, when the championship match between Armagh and Galway turned into an all-out melee, Armagh panellist Tiernan Kelly, who was injured and not togged out, gouged Damien Comer’s eye. He received a six-month ban, but the timing meant he didn’t miss a single minute of intercounty football.

Eye gouging is illegal in UFC.

Also in 2022, shocking footage emerged from Roscommon showing a team mentor entering the field during an U17 match and physically assaulting a referee. The referee was knocked unconscious and had to be removed from the scene in an ambulance.

A 96-week ban – the maximum suspension allowable by the GAA’s current rules – was proposed at the time. I am assuming it was upheld, although I wasn’t able to find any confirmation online. As of July, the criminal case was still being processed by the courts.

A coach entering the octagon and knocking out a referee is illegal in UFC (and I have never heard of it happening).

As recently as last weekend, an amateur video from a Dublin hurling match brought the issue of GAA violence to the fore once again. Another ugly mass brawl turned uglier when some guy in plain clothes (it’s unclear what role, if any, he has with the team) smacked an opposition player in the side of the head with a hurley. The victim was not wearing a helmet.

‘Some guy’ entering the octagon and assaulting a fighter is illegal in UFC (and I have never heard of it happening).

These instances of violence that we have seen in Gaelic games are not just excessive for a field sport, they are excessive for the most vicious sport out there – a sport that is too bloody for a lot of viewers (myself included).

Does this bother top ranking GAA officials and the people responsible for handing out suspensions? Because it should.

This week the GAA launched a new ‘respect’ initiative alongside the FAI and the IRFU. “The three main sporting bodies in Ireland are working together to remind everyone within their games about the values of ‘Respect’ on and off the field,” the press release reads.

That sounds nice but the reality is that people who engage in violence on our playing fields exhibit a complete lack of respect to our games and “reminding” them of values is unlikely to change their behaviour. They need to face appropriate consequences for their actions – including permanent bans for dangerous assaults – not a slap on the wrist or some time in the bold corner.

Our leaders in Croke Park talk about players and coaches and supporters showing respect but by failing to properly punish violence, the association’s disciplinarians are showing a lack of respect to everyone else.


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Almost impossible to look beyond East Kerry but Dingle are best placed to challenge



Adam Moynihan breaks down the groups and likely contenders in the 2023 Kerry Senior Football Championship

Group 1: East Kerry, South Kerry, West Kerry, Templenoe

Defending champions East Kerry are on the hunt for their fourth county title in five years and with a talented squad that’s looking as stacked as ever, only the brave would back against them.

Rathmore’s promotion back to senior level means that Kerry players Shane Ryan and Paul Murphy are missing from last year’s nine-point final victory over Mid Kerry but East Kerry’s strength in depth in all sectors means that no individual player is irreplaceable – excepting the obvious.

David Clifford’s performance for the ages in Fossa’s landmark intermediate semi-final win over Stacks provided a stark reminder of his awe-inspiring talents. Paudie Clifford was excellent too and this year the Two Mile brothers are joined on the panel by four clubmates – another glaring indicator of how far Fossa have come.

James O’Donoghue must be considered an injury doubt after only managing a cameo in Legion’s last outing but his clubmates Brian Kelly, Jonathan Lyne, Darragh Lyne and Cian Gammell are all likely to feature. Current Kerry senior panelists Chris O’Donoghue and Darragh Roche (Glenflesk), Ronan Buckley and Ruairí Murphy (Listry), and Donal O’Sullivan (Kilgarvan) would also be expected to play their part, with plenty of young talent from all seven clubs hoping to break into the starting line-up.

Realistically, the holders should navigate Group 1 with little fuss with South Kerry, West Kerry and Templenoe battling it out for second.

South Kerry and Templenoe played out a draw in the group stage of last year’s championship so there might not be much between them this year either.

West Kerry will be aiming to pick up at least one result after losing all three of their fixtures in 2022.

VERDICT: East Kerry and Templenoe

GROUP 2: Kenmare Shamrocks, Rathmore, St Kieran’s, Feale Rangers

Kenmare came mightily close in the Senior Club final and they should be able to carry that momentum through to the County Championship. Seánie O’Shea is obviously their one bona fide match winner but they’re also strong around the middle third where James McCarthy, David Hallissey and Kevin O’Sullivan put in the hard yards.

The fact that Feale Rangers reached last year’s semi-final indicates that they’re on an upward trajectory. The question now is can they repeat the trick? In 2022 the team was backboned by Listowel Emmets players (seven started that defeat to Mid Kerry) and those lads are coming into this competition in confident form having secured a spot in the still-to-be-played Junior Premier final.

Rathmore are always a tough championship team and the Ryans (Cathal and Mark at midfield and Shane at full forward) are sure to be a handful for any opposition.

St Kieran’s have troubled decent teams in the not-too-distant past – although they lost all three group games (including one against Kenmare) a year ago.

VERDICT: Kenmare and Feale Rangers

GROUP 3: Mid Kerry, Spa, Kerins O’Rahillys, Shannon Rangers

In 2022, Spa found the going tough in a Group of Death that included East Kerry and Dingle. The draw has been kinder to them this time around and they would probably expect to beat Rahillys and Shannon Rangers.

The wheels came off against Dingle in this year’s Senior Club Championship but they impressed the week before against Kenmare. Dara Moynihan, Evan Cronin and Cian Tobin will be important players in attack, with Dan O’Donoghue manning the midfield and Shane Cronin protecting their defensive third from number 6.

Mid Kerry, runners-up last season, will provide their sternest test in this pool. A lot of eyes (including those of Jack O’Connor) will be on Cillian Burke after his heroics for Milltown/Castlemaine in the semi-final of the Intermediate Club Championship. His clubmate Éanna O’Connor (son of the Kerry bainisteoir) will also play a crucial role at centre forward.

Rahillys are facing a relegation playoff if they fail to reach the final of the Kerry SFC and their form in recent weeks would suggest that making it that far is a long shot.

VERDICT: Mid Kerry and Spa

GROUP 4: Dingle, Dr Crokes, St Brendan’s, Na Gaeil

Breaking free of East Kerry’s stranglehold will not be easy but crafty Senior Club champions Dingle are surely best placed to wriggle loose. With four in-form Geaneys in the forwards – Paul, Mikey, Conor and Dylan – they have the tools to trouble any defence, and the return of their established AFL player Mark O’Connor adds solidity going the other way. They also have the incomparable Tom O’Sullivan pulling the strings. As things stand, they are easily the standout club team in the county.

Their Group 4 opponents Dr Crokes will be aiming to improve upon their showing in 2022 when they bowed out at the quarter-final stage. Naturally much will depend on the availability or otherwise of star players Gavin White and Tony Brosnan. White missed the recent Senior Club semi-final defeat to Kenmare with a hamstring injury. Encouragingly, Brosnan (who has been sidelined with a recurrence of a lung problem) was togged for that match, though he did not play.

The Killarney club will be fancied to qualify from their group alongside Dingle, although St Brendan’s – strengthened by the addition of an unknown number of Austin Stacks players to their ranks – could be dangerous.

The other team in the pool, Na Gaeil, are facing a relegation playoff against Rahillys once both sides are finished with the Kerry SFC. Reaching the final of this competition would spare them but Na Gaeil can count themselves unlucky to have been handed a difficult draw for the second year in a row.

VERDICT: Dingle and Dr Crokes

All things considered East Kerry and Dingle appear to be the frontrunners to capture the Bishop Moynihan trophy but there will be plenty of twists and turns along the way, starting this weekend with a full round of fixtures.

All eight matches will be either televised or streamed online. Dingle v Dr Crokes is on TG4. The remaining seven matches are on Clubber.


Friday 8pm Na Gaeil v St Brendan’s (Austin Stack Park)

Saturday 3pm Templenoe v West Kerry (Fitzgerald Stadium)

Saturday 5.30pm Rahillys v Shannon Rangers (Austin Stack Park)

Saturday 7.30pm East Kerry v South Kerry (Austin Stack Park)

Sunday 1.30pm Rathmore v St Kieran’s (Fitzgerald Stadium)

Sunday 2.15pm Dingle v Dr Crokes (Austin Stack Park)

Sunday 3.30pm Feale Rangers v Kenmare Shamrocks (Fitzgerald Stadium)

Sunday 4.15pm Mid Kerry v Spa (Austin Stack Park)

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