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All-Ireland Final Preview: White named to start but Moynihan misses out

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by Adam Moynihan

All-Ireland SFC Final

Kerry v Galway

Sunday at 3.30pm

Croke Park

Eight years without an All-Ireland is little more than a short break between courses for most diners. For Kerry, it’s a famine.

Since The Kingdom’s first All-Ireland triumph in 1903 (played in 1905), their longest barren spell was the 10-year period from 1987 to 1996. The second longest was from 1915 to 1923 (nine years), and the current run of seven (going on eight) years without an All-Ireland is the third worst.

Non-Kerry readers might roll their eyes at those statistics. But the nature of the Kerry football psyche means that the appetite for All-Ireland glory is currently just as great – if not greater - than it is in any other county in Ireland (regardless of how long the wait has been for them or for us).

After a run of heart-breaking defeats, this iteration of the Kerry team is now on the cusp. 70 minutes more. Famine or feast.

TEAM NEWS

Gavin White has been named to start for Kerry despite concerns over an injured knee.

The Dr Crokes man had been rated as "doubtful" by his manager after being carried off the field during the latter stages of the semi-final victory over Dublin. His inclusion is encouraging - O'Connor would not waste a spot on a player who had no chance of playing - but we will have to wait until Sunday to see if White has, in fact, recovered.

Jack Barry retains his starting place in midfield alongside David Moran with Diarmuid O'Connor once again lining out at 10.

Spa's Dara Moynihan is a notable omission from the squad, presumably due to injury. Stefan Okunbor returns to the 26 in Moynihan's stead.

Galway are yet to name their team; for the All-Ireland semi-final against Derry, they announced it the night before the game.

MATCH-UPS

As has been the case for all their games this season, Kerry are the bookmakers' favourites to prevail against Galway. Considering way the Dublin match played out, defeating their greatest rivals in such an intense battle, perhaps that stands to reason.

Galway have impressed too, however, and their attack is more than strong enough to cause Kerry problems. Burly full-forward Damien Comer is a cert for an All-Star and he will be flanked on either side by the skilful duo of Shane Walsh and Rob Finnerty.

Jason Foley appears to be the most likely to candidate to track Comer with Tom and Graham O'Sullivan expected to mark Walsh and Finnerty respectively.

Galway's all-action midfield pairing of Paul Conroy and Cillian McDaid have been excellent this season and Kerry midfielders David Moran and Jack Barry will have a tough task on their hands to stop them.

As for Kerry's attack, key player David Clifford might be picked up by Seán Kelly. Galway's captain also went head-to-head with Clifford in this year's Sigerson Cup final.

PREDICTION

Manager Pádraic Joyce has this Galway team in a very good place and there's no question that they're in with a really sound chance of ending their 21-year wait for an All-Ireland.

Joyce's counterpart Jack O'Connor will also feel as though his side are looking strong, however, and most observers seem to agree that if both teams play to their potential, Kerry will more than likely win.

Questions about their mental toughness appear to have been answered (at least to some extent) and if they can put in another intense, professional and disciplined performance, Sam Maguire should be residing in The Kingdom on Monday night.

Verdict: Kerry

KERRY TEAM TO PLAY GALWAY

1. Shane Ryan (Rathmore)

2. Graham O’Sullivan (Dromid Pearses)

3. Jason Foley (Ballydonoghue)

4. Tom O’Sullivan (Dingle)

5. Brian Ó Beaglaoich (An Ghaeltacht)

6. Tadhg Morley (Templenoe)

7. Gavin White (Dr Crokes)

8. David Moran (Kerins O'Rahillys)

9. Jack Barry (Na Gaeil)

10. Diarmuid O’Connor (Na Gaeil)

11. Seán O’Shea (Captain - Kenmare Shamrocks)

12. Stephen O’Brien (Kenmare Shamrocks)

13. Paudie Clifford (Fossa)

14. David Clifford (Fossa)

15. Paul Geaney (Dingle)

Subs: S Murphy, P Murphy, K Spillane, A Spillane, M Burns, J O’Connor, T Brosnan, G Crowley, J Savage, J O’Shea, S Okunbor.

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‘There’s definitely more in me’ – Leahy feeling positive after close-run thing at nationals

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Kerry woman Sarah Leahy chats to Adam Moynihan about her recent outing at the National Outdoor Championships in Dublin. The Killarney Valley AC sprinter competed with the best of the best, including new Irish record holder Rhasidat Adeleke.

Adam Moynihan: You recently took part in the 100m final at the National Championships. How was that experience for you?

Sarah Leahy: Atmosphere-wise it was absolutely amazing. Just very good energy all around. And coming out for the final, obviously, Rhasidat brought a massive crowd. So that was really cool to be a part of because I don’t think there’s ever been a crowd that big at nationals before. To be in the final where so many people were there to watch her was obviously amazing.

What about the race itself?

I came fifth and ran a time of 11.74. On the day, with the whole excitement of it all, I was actually really happy with that. I was a bit disappointed but I was like, it’s a great day overall. I ran well, didn’t get a medal but I was really close. I didn’t get the perfect start like I did in the heat. So I was a little bit behind, but I just managed to come fifth in the end.

A week on, the excitement has kind of worn off, and I think there’s definitely a lot more in me. I could’ve pipped the third place But yeah, it is what it is. It was still good. I’m happy with it.

It was very tight for third place, wasn’t it?

Yeah, it was two-or-three-hundredths of a second and it was a blanket finish for four of us. So it was close but no cigar. Not this time. I came fifth last year as well, so I was hoping for at least fourth this year, but it ended up being the same. At least it wasn’t sixth! And there’s definitely more in me as well. Time-wise I’m just waiting for it to kind of happen a little bit. I believe it will. It was amazing to be in a race where a national record was broken.

And the standard was obviously very high across the board. All the big names were there.

It was a very high standard, yeah. Going in we kind of knew that first and second were gone (to Adeleke and Sarah Lavin). Everyone else was battling for that third medal and only one person could get it in the end. (Mollie O’Reilly got the bronze.) We were all close.

But overall I was super grateful to be in the mix, especially in a race that was that big. It’s one that will go down in history. It was a massive weekend and it was very enjoyable.

Rhasidat is a massive superstar now. What’s it like to run alongside her?

Rhasidat is a great athlete and a very nice girl. As you can see in interviews, she’s very humble. So to compete next to her, to literally be running in the lane right beside her, was amazing. I couldn’t have asked for more from the day in that respect. I thought she might have ran sub-11 because she did it before but she still got a national record. To be part of that race was a big deal for me.

Athletics in Ireland seems to be in a good place, particularly after the success the Irish team had in the recent European Championships in Rome. Does it feel like the sport is getting more attention and more recognition these days?

Oh 100%. Support for athletics has grown hugely in the last few years and I think it’ll continue to grow, especially with the success that Ireland had at the European Championships. I think the Olympics this year is going to drive that on even more because we have such great athletes going. The support is growing and rightfully so. The athletes are really getting the recognition they deserve. I think the future is very exciting for athletics in Ireland.

What about your own career? What’s next for you?

I have one last race of the season left, which is at the AAI Games on Sunday in Dublin. I’m hoping to just get a good run out, a good time, and execute the race well. Training will continue until the end of July, I’ll get a month off, and then we’re back training for indoors next year. I love indoors. I think I excel at that. There’s European Indoors and World Indoors next year, so to qualify for them would be a huge, huge goal.

As for outdoors, I’d like to get on the Irish relay team, but I’ll be focussing on indoors first. It should be a good year.

Are you enjoying it?

Yeah, I’m really enjoying it. I think sometimes you might put too much pressure on yourself and try to get a PB in every race but this year I’ve really learned that I’ve done the training, so it will happen when it happens. Just go out and run and let your body do its thing. And I’m actually really enjoying competing this year. I know I’m going to continue enjoying it for the next few years.

With the surrounding support of the club and coaches and my training group, it’s all going really well for me at the moment. I have no complaints at all. I’m very lucky.

Thanks for your time, Sarah, and all the best for the rest of the season.

Thank you very much, Adam. It was lovely talking to you.

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Kingdom ladies hoping for repeat performance against Royals

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LGFA All-Ireland Senior Championship Quarter-Final

Kerry v Meath

Saturday 5.15pm

Austin Stack Park

Live on TG4

Just like they did in 2023, the Kerry ladies will take on Meath in the All-Ireland quarter-final in Tralee this weekend and a repeat of the result they earned that wintry day 12 months ago will do just fine.

Last year’s encounter at Stack Park was a classic game of two halves as the home team ran up a 10-point lead with the unseasonable elements at their collective back.

Meath, who at the time were on the hunt for their third All-Ireland in a row, fought back admirably in the second period but the Kerry women held firm and won by four (2-8 to 0-10) after an emotionally charged final quarter.

Síofra O’Shea was Kerry’s top scorer on the day with 1-1 and her return from injury in recent weeks is a major boost to Darragh Long and Declan Quill’s squad.

The Kingdom made light work of Meath when the sides met in the league in March as Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh kicked 0-8 in a 1-15 to 0-5 victory. Shane McCormack’s charges subsequently lost to Dublin in the Leinster final by 18 points before finishing second to Armagh in the All-Ireland group stage.

Marion Farrelly, Emma Duggan and Meadhbh Byrne caught the eye in their recent win over Tipperary, combining for 2-11 of the team’s total of 2-15.

Former Player of the Year Vikki Wall could be in line for a dramatic comeback after a spell with the Ireland Rugby Sevens team.

As for Kerry, they should arrive at the last eight in decent spirits having put in their best display of the season so far against Waterford three weeks ago. The Munster champions were excellent and eventually ran out 4-13 to 0-9 winners with skilful forward Hannah O’Donoghue (1-3) and all-action half back Aishling O’Connell (0-2) particularly impressive.

Meath are a capable opponent on their day, though, so another professional performance will be required if Kerry want to keep their All-Ireland dream alive.

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