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Club Preview: Home semi-final for high-flying Spa

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by Adam Moynihan and Eamonn Fitzgerald

They might be new to the scene but Spa are really shaking things up at the highest level of Kerry football.

It took the Tullig-based club a decade to regain their senior status and their performances since re-emerging on the main stage in 2021 have been remarakble.

Few expected them to advance from a Club Championship pool that included last year’s beaten finalists Kenmare and Dingle (who are veterans of the senior scene) but they did just that – and as group winners, no less.

The welcome return from injury of Liam Kearney has given them a lift and they will fancy their prospects at home to Kerins O’Rahillys (Saturday 6pm).

Strand Road were held to a draw by Templenoe on Sunday last thanks to a late Killian Spillane goal. Spa, for their part, defeated Na Gaeil away 1-16 to 0-12, which was a great result.

If the defence can minimise conceding frees anywhere inside the 45 they will be in a good place as Rahillys depend to a large extent on the free-taking of Jack Savage. The David Moran v Liam Kearney battle for midfield supremacy will also be crucial. If Spa win this sector, they have forwards like Evan Cronin, Mike Foley and David Spillane to rack up a winning score.

Templenoe host Dingle in the other semi-final (also Saturday at 6pm).

INTERMEDIATE

The fight for a coveted seat at the top table of Kerry football is heating up as the Intermediate Club Championship reaches the quarter-final stage this weekend.

Half the participants have now been eliminated following the final round of group games and the draw for the last eight has thrown up some exciting ties.

Chief amongst them is surely the local grudge match between two teams who are keen to make their spell at intermediate level as brief as possible: the Killarney Legion and Kilcummin (Sunday 2.30pm, Derreen).

The Legion, who are now managed by Cork native Ned English, made light work of their pool, defeating Laune Rangers, Dromid and John Mitchels pretty comfortably. Four first-half points by James O’Donoghue set the hosts on their way against Mitchels on Sunday and they eventually prevailed on a double-scores scoreline: 0-14 to 0-7.

Legion lost their senior status last year following defeat to Dr Crokes. Climbing back up at the first time of asking would be a massive boost for the club.

Standing in their way at the quarter-final stage are Kilcummin, who themselves dropped down to the second tier as recently as 2020. Noel Duggan (six frees) top-scored in last weekend’s victory over Glenbeigh-Glencar and the ever-reliable Brendan Kealy chipped in with a couple of placed balls of his own.

Legion, the pre-tournament favourites, will be fancied to get over the line but Kilcummin are never an easy team to play against. This tie could end up going down to the wire.

Elsewhere, Rathmore welcome Laune Rangers to Rathbeg (Saturday 6pm), Beaufort host Glenflesk (Sunday 2.30pm), and Gneeveguilla face a tough task away to An Ghaeltacht in Gallarus (Sunday 2.30pm).

In the Junior Premier, Listry will have home advantage for their quarter-final against Ballyduff (Saturday 6pm), Fossa have a tricky journey to Annascaul (Saturday 6pm), Ballymac face St Senan’s (Saturday 6pm) and Skellig Rangers are up against Ardfert (Sunday 2.30pm).

Firies are gunning for promotion from the Junior Championship; the next step for them is a home quarter-final against Scart (Sunday 2.30pm).

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Kerry ladies must bounce back at home to Waterford

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All-Ireland Senior Championship Group 2

Kerry v Waterford

Saturday 3pm

Fitzgerald Stadium

The Kerry ladies will be looking to get back to winning ways against Waterford on Saturday following last weekend’s frustrating draw against Donegal in Ballybofey.

The Kingdom led with seconds remaining in treacherous conditions but a late Donegal free snatched a draw for the home side (Donegal 1-6 Kerry 0-9). It was a game that Kerry would have been expecting to win and the result puts a lot more pressure on them this weekend as they try to top the three-team group and earn a home quarter-final.

If they beat Waterford and Donegal do likewise next week, Kerry and Donegal will be level in first place on four points each. The top seed will then be decided by the head-to-head record between the teams. As Kerry v Donegal was a draw, the deciding factor will be whoever scored the most points in that draw. That would be good news for Kerry as they scored nine points to Donegal’s six.

When Kerry and Waterford last met (in this year’s Munster Championship), Kerry needed a late winner by Fiadhna Tangney to prevail by narrowest of margins (1-8 to 1-7). If Waterford beat Kerry and then lose to Donegal, Kerry would be eliminated from the championship.

The Kerry squad has been boosted by the return of Síofra O’Shea who came off the bench against Donegal following a lengthy period out with a knee injury.

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US-bound Kerry runner Lynch hopes to emulate Mageean magic

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by Adam Moynihan

Killarney middle distance runner Oisín Lynch is taking inspiration from newly crowned European 1500m champion Ciara Mageean as he gets set for the next stage of his career in the United States.

This week Lynch confirmed that he will be heading Stateside after accepting a scholarship at Adams State University in Colorado. The promising 800m and 1500m competitor caught the eye of coaches at the leading American college after representing Ireland in the Youth Olympics and also by winning two national titles in recent months.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, the 18-year-old Killarney Valley AC athlete, who is currently doing his Leaving Cert at St Brendan’s College, says he one day hopes to emulate Mageean’s heroics on the international stage.

“The Irish are on the up at underage and at senior level,” Lynch notes. “We have been improving a lot in recent years. When you see Ciara Mageean winning the 1500m it just shows that it can be done by Irish people.

“Sometimes Irish athletes don’t really believe in themselves when they’re getting knocked out of championships by English or European athletes. Mageean winning that European title is definitely something to drive me on. It shows that I can actually do it.”

DREAM

For Lynch, moving to the United States is a hugely significant step, and one that he has dreamed about making since he was a child.

“It’s unbelievable. I always hoped I could earn a scholarship. I worked hard over the last few years, so it’s nice to see that work paying off.

“I had a few schools onto me but when Adams State got in touch, I sized it up and I knew it was a really good opportunity.

“The fact that the college is at 7,500 feet… That’s a crazy altitude. It’s double the height of Carrauntoohil. Altitude training has massive benefits for distance running and nowadays nearly every pro spends most of their year training at altitude. The chance to get that training for the next couple of years is great.

“And their athletics programme is unbelievable. Coach Damon Martin has been there for 40 years and he has coached 12 Olympians. Adams State is in the top 15 for distance in the country and the standard out there in America is very high.”

STRIDES

Killarney Valley AC have made enormous strides since building their new, state-of-the-art facility in 2020 and Lynch is a grateful beneficiary of that progress.

“I can’t thank the club enough. Going back a couple of years we were training on grass in parks. When you want to be a track runner, it’s just not the same. After a lot of hard work by a lot of good people, we managed to get a 200-metre track in Killarney. That’s massive for us and it’s all we need for training.

“The coaches down there are putting in the hard work, including my dad (Con), Tomás Griffin, Jean Courtney, Jerry Griffin, Bríd Stack, Alan Delaney… I could go on. It’s a great club and there are some good athletes coming through. It’s an exciting time for Killarney Valley.”

After Lynch completes his Leaving Cert, he will start preparing for life as a college athlete. He will study kinesiology in Colorado and on the track he hopes to keep on moving in the right direction. That means getting his times down (his current PBs are 1.50.59 over 800m and 3.51 over 1500m), representing Ireland, and hopefully winning a national title in America.

“Obviously I’ll take every step as it comes,” the ambitious Kerryman says, “but the Olympics is the main long-term target, hopefully in LA in 2028.”

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