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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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Paudie Clifford returns and scores wondergoal as Kerry dismantle Monaghan

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Adam Moynihan reports from the Fitzgerald Stadium

National League Division 1

Kerry 3-16 Monaghan 0-14

HT: Kerry 0-10 Monaghan 0-6

A spectacular second-half goal by surprise inclusion Paudie Clifford helped Kerry to an impressive 11-point over Monaghan in Killarney this afternoon.

The All-Star forward wasn’t named on the initial panel of 27 but when his name was called out as No. 26 before the game, a loud cheer rang out around the O’Sullivan Stand. Kerry fans had to wait until the 46th minute to see the Fossa captain make his first appearance of the season but it didn’t take him long to make his mark.

After soloing all of 80 metres, the elder Clifford dispatched a perfect finish beyond the reach of Rory Beggan to send Kerry nine points clear with 51 minutes on the clock.

In truth the game was drifting away from Monaghan before Clifford’s cameo but his sensational contribution made absolutely certain.

With two points on the board and David Clifford and Seánie O’Shea waiting in the wings ahead of Mayo away in two weeks’ time, Kerry manager Jack O’Connor will be a happy man leaving Killarney this evening.

GIFTED

Monaghan stayed in touch with Kerry for the first quarter, thanks in the main to a string of needless fouls that gifted the away team some easy scores.

Conor McCarthy broke the deadlock with one such free in the 6th minute and Tony Brosnan got Kerry off the mark two minutes later with a placed ball of his own.

The reliable Dessie Ward and Kerry’s bustling full forward Darragh Roche exchanged scores before Micheál Bannigan tapped over a free to re-establish the Farney’s early lead.

Kerry then went on a mini-run, instigated by a neat team move that saw Tony Brosnan and Micheál Burns combine to tee up the excellent Tom O’Sullivan for a close-in score.

Good work by Barry Dan O’Sullivan from a hop ball led to another Brosnan free, and then a high, skyscraper of a point from the stand side into the scoreboard end by Donal Down O’Sullivan gave the hosts a two-point lead.

However, two more avoidable fouls handed Monaghan’s free-takers McCarthy and Bannigan a point apiece and midway through the first half, the scores were level at 0-5 each.

The Kingdom finally began to inject some pace into proceedings in the second quarter with Dara Moynihan and Micheál Burns especially active. The All-Ireland champions scored five of the next six points with Roche, Brosnan (free), Moynihan, Donal Down O’Sullivan and Burns all hitting the target.

A tasty individual effort by Monaghan’s best forward, Conor McCarthy, left the scores at 0-10 to 0-6 at the break.

UNDONE

Monaghan’s good work in the first half was rather quickly undone in the second as Kerry exerted their dominance in all sectors. By the time Darragh Roche evaded Beggan and goaled in the 39th minute, the home side led by eight (1-12 to 0-7) and the result already appeared to be beyond question.

In fairness to Vinney Corey’s charges, they rattled off three unanswered points over the next 10 minutes – and they would have scored a goal but for a great save by Shane Murphy – but then Clifford’s introduction set the tone for the remainder.

Adrian Spillane’s goalbound effort was tipped over in the 49th minute (Spillane was the last of Kerry’s six forwards to score) and then Clifford gathered the ball inside his own 65, sprinted straight for goal, and finished emphatically to make it 2-13 to 0-10.

Things got worse for Monaghan four minutes later when Ryan O’Toole saw red for a high tackle on Stefan Okunbor. In the next attack, Tom O’Sullivan sauntered forward to drive a trademark outside-of-the-boot shot between the uprights and Kerry led by double scores (2-14 to 0-10).

Stephen O’Hanlon was one of Monaghan’s shining lights and he scored two of his three points in the final quarter, but they counted for little when all was said and done.

TG4’s Man of the Match Donal Down O’Sullivan capped a fine full debut with a nice goal in stoppage time as Kerry picked up their first league win of the season.

KERRY: S Murphy; G O’Sullivan, J Foley, T O’Sullivan (0-2); P Warren, T Morley, P Murphy; J Barry, BD O’Sullivan; M Burns (0-1), D Moynihan (0-1), A Spillane (0-1); T Brosnan (0-4f), D Roche (1-2), D O’Sullivan (1-3).

Subs: P Clifford (1-1) for Moynihan; S Okunbor for BD O’Sullivan; K Spillane (0-1m) for Roche, G Horan for Warren; R Murphy for A Spillane.

MONAGHAN: R Beggan; T McPhillips, K Duffy (0-1), R Wylie; C Boyle, D Ward (0-1), K Loughran; K  Lavelle, C Lennon; S O’Hanlon (0-3), M Bannigan (0-3, 2f), J Wilson; C McCarthy (0-5, 4f), K Gallagher (0-1), S Carey.

Subs: D Treanor for Lennon; G Mohan for Wilson; T McPhillips for Lavelle; S Jones for Carey; S Slevin for Wylie.

Attendance: 10,232

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Handball continues to shine in Killarney

By Con Dennehy Handball in the Killarney region can look back at 2022 as a year of continued progress, the promotion of handball in East Kerry and the introduction of […]

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By Con Dennehy

Handball in the Killarney region can look back at 2022 as a year of continued progress, the promotion of handball in East Kerry and the introduction of the sport to a new generation.

It has been a phenomenal and successful year for the Spa Killarney Club. At the Annual General Meeting of the club this week, one of the highlights of the year singled out for mention was the hosting and promotion of a One Wall National Tournament which attracted players from all over Ireland to the Killarney venue in March.

There was joy for the home club at the tournament when Currow native and Spa Killarney Club member Aoife Walsh had an impressive victory in the highly competitive Ladies B championship.

There was also an international dimension for the club in 2022 when four players took part in the European One Wall Tournament in London. At this event Eoin O’Donoghue won gold in the Open Doubles B championship where he partnered with John Joe Quirke from Glenbeigh and Brendan O’Donoghue won a silver medal in the Over 40 Doubles final.

“As a new club we were delighted with the success we achieved in 2022. In January Aoife Walsh and Sinead Moriarty took home silverware in the highly competitive She’s Ace competition in Tyrone. This really was our springboard for success during the year and resulted in some of our players competing in the One Wall national finals in Roscommon in July. We are looking forward to an exciting 2023 and hopefully welcoming new members to the club,” said Eoin O’Donoghue, PRO of Spa Killarney Handball Club.

The club rounded off a memorable year in October when they hosted the Munster One Wall championships and the Kerry Handball Board AGM in November where club members Kieran O’Brien was elected president of Kerry Handball and Brendan O’Donoghue was appointed delegate to the Kerry GAA Board.

Officers Elected for 2023/2024: Brendan O’Donoghue (Chairman), Sinead Moriarty (Vice Chairperson), David Gillespie (Secretary), Eoin O’Donoghue (PRO) and James O’Brien (Treasurer).

Open Night

Spa Killarney Handball Club will host an Open Night at the Spa GAA Club on Monday night (February 6). This will be an opportunity for attendees to savour the thrill of handball, have a taster game and meet the club players. It commences at 7pm and all over 18s are welcome.

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