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Big weekend ahead in Kerry Club Championships

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A tantalising 48 hours of club football lies ahead with key semi-finals or finals taking place at every grade of the Kerry Club Championship.

There are several exciting fixtures taking place across the county but the keenly anticipated senior final between Kenmare Shamrocks and Austin Stacks is surely the headliner.

Both finalists looked impressive throughout the group phase with Stacks in particular showing their strength by claiming victory in all three of their games. Legion, Rahilly’s and Dingle all fell to the men from Connolly Park and three late goals propelled them past Templenoe in the semi-final. That last four encounter was not of the highest calibre (the scoreline at half-time read Stacks 0-4 Templenoe 0-2), but the Tralee club came good in the second period to secure their progression to the finale.

Kenmare, meanwhile, topped a pool containing Dr Crokes, Spa and Templenoe and yet another Seán O’Shea winner sealed a one-point victory over Dingle in the semi-final. Remarkably, O’Shea has now scored a late winner in four of Shamrocks’ last six Club Championship victories across this and last season.

The fact that Kenmare and Stacks also met in the 2020 decider adds a significant amount of spice to Sunday’s clash. Stacks won last year’s game after extra time, and they are likely to be slight favourites this time around, but Kenmare will fancy their chances of causing an upset. If they manage to get over the line it will cap an incredible 10-year period for the club during which time they have also won the Junior Club Championship (2012) and the Intermediate Club Championship (2016).

INTERMEDIATE

Things are taking shape in the intermediate too as 16 clubs have now become four. Rathmore, who lost their senior status in 2019 after 20 years at the top table, are one step closer to promotion following a solid win over neighbours Glenflesk. Mark Reen (1-6, 5f), Chrissy Spiers (0-4, 2f) and Paul Murphy (0-3) accounted for the bulk of Rathmore’s scores as they ran out 1-18 to 1-11 winners. Aidan O’Mahony once again lined out in the full forward line and he chipped in with a point from play.

Rathmore’s opponents in the semis will be beaten 2020 finalists Beaufort after they inflicted a heavy defeat upon Kilcummin in Kilcummin. Liam Carey kicked 1-8 and Kieran Dennehy added 1-3 for the Mid Kerry side as they romped to a 2-21 to 0-10 victory. Coming so close to promotion just a matter of weeks ago before falling short  (the 2020 edition didn’t finish until September) apparently hasn’t knocked Beaufort too far off their stride.

The other semi-final will see Na Gaeil take on Castleisland Desmonds after they accounted for Ballydonoghue and An Ghaeltacht in their respective last eight ties.

JUNIOR

In the Junior Premier, Listry are on the brink of the final following their excellent 1-15 to 2-6 win over local rivals Fossa. The East Kerry club will take on Skellig Rangers on Sunday with Gneeveguilla up against St Michael’s-Foilmore in the other semi-final.

At Junior level, Firies will be hoping to move one step closer to promotion when they take on Reenard in Killorglin on Saturday. The winners will face either Cordal or Castlegregory in the final.

In the Novice Club Championship, Sneem/Derrynane play Ballylongford with Cromane up against either Asdee or Moyvane.

Senior Club Championship Final

Sun 3pm - Austin Stacks v Kenmare Shamrocks (Fitzgerald Stadium)

Intermediate Club Championship Semi-Finals

Sat 7pm - Na Gaeil v Castleisland Desmonds (Austin Stack Park)

Sun 1pm - Beaufort v Rathmore (Fitzgerald Stadium)

Intermediate Club Relegation Semi-Finals

Sat 4pm - John Mitchels v Currow (Castleisland)

Sat 4pm - Ardfert v Laune Rangers (Ballymac)

Junior Premier Club Championship Semi-Finals

Sat 4pm - Gneeveguilla v St Michael’s-Foilmore (Beaufort)

Sun 2.30pm - Listry v Skellig Rangers (Glenbeigh)

Junior Premier Club Relegation Playoff

Sat at 4pm - Finuge v St Pat’s Blennerville (Mountcoal)

Junior Club Championship Semi-Finals

Sat 4pm - Reenard v Firies (Austin Stack Park)

Sun 2.30pm - Cordal v Castlegregory (Strand Road)

Novice Club Championship Quarter-Final

Sun 2.30pm - Asdee v Moyvane (Asdee)

Novice Football Championship Semi-Final

Sat 4pm - Sneem/Derrynane v Ballylongford (Cromane)

KERRY SFC

Meanwhile, the times and venues for Round 1 of the County Championship have been confirmed. In one of the ties of the round, Killarney rivals Legion and Spa will face off in the Fitzgerald Stadium on Saturday, October 30 at 3pm. Later that evening at 7pm,  defending champions East Kerry will take on Austin Stacks in Austin Stack Park.

Dr Crokes will get their championship underway against West Kerry the following day at 3pm. That match will form part of a double-header in Stack Park with Dingle and Mid Kerry squaring off at 5pm.

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Relegation battle has town divided

By Sean Moriarty This is bigger than the county final itself – with the main prize on offer being bragging rights in the town. After an unprecedented run of events during this year’s Kerry Senior Football championship Killarney’s two biggest clubs, Dr Crokes and Killarney Legion are set to face off in a relegation battle […]

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By Sean Moriarty

This is bigger than the county final itself – with the main prize on offer being bragging rights in the town.

After an unprecedented run of events during this year’s Kerry Senior Football championship Killarney’s two biggest clubs, Dr Crokes and Killarney Legion are set to face off in a relegation battle that is sure to divide the town.

In sporting terms, the outcome of the big game, set for December 5, is simple enough. The winner stays in the Senior Championship next season and the losers will have to play in the Intermediate Championship.

Fans of the black and amber or the green and white face an anxious week. Winning the county title is one thing – consigning your cross town rivals to second division football in football is altogether a bigger prize.

Senior officials from both clubs are being very guarded on a potential outcome as both sides know the significance of this play off.

“It is a pity that two Killarney clubs, with a long tradition of playing football in the top tier, find themselves in the position of having to play off to avoid relegation,” Matt O’Neill, Cathaoirleach of Dr Crokes, told the Killarney Advertiser.

“Both teams will fight tooth and nail to stay in the senior ranks. I am confident that on Sunday week our lads will do themselves and the club proud, as always, and give their all in the quest to keep the black and amber to the fore.”

Crokes are based off the Lewis Road with Legion a short distance away on the other side of the bypass.

“Everyone has an opinion on this,” Legion PRO, Elaine O’Donoghue, told the Killarney Advertiser. “Both sides will be nervous – may the best team win. There are a lot of questions, are the Crokes suffering after defeat to Kerins O’Rahillys [in the semi-final]? Are our lads suffering after losing to St Brendan’s for the third year in a row?”

Every football fan will be keeping a close eye on next weekend’s Intermediate County Final too which takes place on December 4.

The winners of the match between Beaufort and Tralee side Na Gael will be automatically promoted to replace the losers of the Killarney play-off in the Senior Championship next season.

Should Beaufort prevail, a (relatively) local team could replace a town team in the top flight.

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68% of fans say penalty shootouts ‘not right’ for Gaelic football

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by Adam Moynihan

Local Gaelic football supporters are largely against the practice of deciding matches with penalty shootouts, a poll carried out by the Killarney Advertiser can reveal.

Over two-thirds (68%) of those surveyed said they don’t think that penalties are “right” for the GAA with the remaining 32% standing on the other side of the fence.

Traditionally exclusive to the game of soccer, penalty shootouts were first introduced to Kerry GAA competitions in 2020 as a method of settling fixtures “on the day”. This was deemed necessary as there was less time for replays due to the profound effect the coronavirus pandemic had on last year’s sporting calendar.

A number of high-profile Kerry club matches have gone to penalties since they were introduced, including last season’s County League final between Austin Stacks and Rathmore, last month’s Kerry SFC Round 1 match between Legion and Spa, and Saturday’s county semi-final between Stacks and St Brendan’s.

Stacks emerged victorious in that televised last four clash as former Kerry player Kieran Donaghy scored the winning kick to send the Tralee club through to the final.

Before penalty shootouts became the norm, drawn GAA matches either went to a replay or to extra-time and then a replay if necessary.

Sorting a match out on the day is now commonplace, although some observers have voiced concerns about introducing what is effectively a soccer exercise to Gaelic games. When asked for their thoughts on penalties, a number of respondents to our survey made the same or similar observations.

“Penalties do not encapsulate the basic skills of Gaelic football,” one reader said. “Kicking from the hand is the key fundamental skill of the sport so that seems a more fair and apt way to decide a game.”

Another fan commented: “Penalties are for soccer. Marks are for Aussie Rules. Can we come up with anything ourselves?”

On the other hand, some respondents said that penalties were “fine” and a few suggested that they be used for any game bar a final.

Kerry GAA have confirmed that the upcoming county final and relegation playoff will go to replays if the sides are level after 60 minutes. However, next Saturday’s intermediate final between Na Gaeil and Beaufort will go all the way to penalties if required.

OTHER OPTIONS

When asked to select the “best” alternative method of deciding a Gaelic football match from a list provided by the Killarney Advertiser, over 40% of the people surveyed opted for a free-taking shootout from 35 metres.

‘More extra-time’ was the second most popular option with 23.61% of the vote.

An additional period of ‘next score wins’ was next up on just under 20%, with a 1 v 1 ice-hockey-style shootout, which would see the kicker carry the ball in hand before shooting for goal, was selected by 16% of supporters.

Whether or not the GAA are open to changing things up is uncertain. For the time-being at least, it appears as though football matches will continue to be decided using this controversial method.

Killarney Advertiser Penalty Shootout Poll (carried out online on November 23/24)

Are penalty shootouts right for Gaelic football?

Yes 31.94%

No 68.06%

If a replay is not possible, which of these alternative methods of settling a match is best:

Free-taking shootout from 35 metres 40.28%​

More extra time 23.61%

Next score wins 19.44%

1 v 1 ice-hockey-style shootout (ball in hand) 16.67%

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