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



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).


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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Kingdom hoping to lay some old ghosts to rest at Páirc Uí Chaoimh



by Adam Moynihan

All-Ireland SFC Group 1

Cork v Kerry

Saturday at 3pm

Páirc Uí Chaoimh

I was one of the unlucky few to have been present at the last Cork-Kerry clash in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in November of 2020. It was a truly awful night.

The match was played behind closed doors which made for an eerie, unsettling atmosphere, and the rain came down harder than I ever remember seeing first-hand.

Unfortunately, Kerry came down hard too. Mark Keane’s last-ditch goal clinched an unexpected victory for the hosts and, just like that, Kerry’s year was over.

It always hurts when your team loses but that one completely floored us all. It was such a horrible way to lose a game and I felt so bad for the players as they trudged off the field, soaked to the bone and shaken to the core.

They got some form of payback the following year when they won by 21 in the Munster final, and again last year when they ran out 11-point winners in the semi-final. But something tells me that it would mean a lot more to return to Páirc Uí Chaoimh and do the business there.

It won’t be easy. The final scorelines in the last two games suggest that it was all one-way traffic but that simply wasn’t the case. In 2021, Cork led by 1-5 to 0-4 at the water break (remember those?) and they pushed Kerry hard 12 months ago too. There was nothing in that match right up until the 50th minute, at which point Kerry brought on David Moran and Paul Geaney and ultimately pulled away.

You can never really read too much into the McGrath Cup but Cork demolished Kerry in January. Their form since has been spotty but they did well to see off Louth last week, with the returning Brian Hurley (shoulder) kicking eight points in a two-point win. Hurley has proved to be a handful for Kerry full back Jason Foley in the past.

Significantly, John Cleary’s side are strong in a key area where Kerry struggled against Mayo: midfield. Ian Maguire and Colm O’Callaghan scored 0-2 each in Navan (and the latter scored 2-4 in that aforementioned McGrath Cup game at the start of the year).

Jack O’Connor named his team last night with Adrian Spillane replacing Tony Brosnan and Paul Murphy coming in for Dylan Casey. Spillane will add some extra brawn and energy around the middle third. Going by the last outing, Kerry need it.

It is also worth noting that David Clifford has never really shot the lights out against Cork. He has been well minded by Maurice Shanley, Seán Meehan and Kevin Flahive in the past three championship meetings, with the retreating Seán Powter also getting stuck in when needed.

Flahive suffered a cruciate injury late in last year’s game but he could potentially be in line for a comeback tomorrow; he has been added to Cork’s 26 for the first time in over 12 months.

Meehan has been ruled out with a hamstring injury so Shanley may be asked to track the Footballer of the Year this time around.

Clifford was one of the few bright sparks against Mayo and he would love to bring that form to the Páirc on Saturday. With vital points on the line, there would be no better time to lay some ghosts to rest.

From a Kerry perspective, you would hope – and perhaps expect – that Clifford and his teammates can do exactly that and get the show back on the road.


1. Shane Ryan

2. Graham O’Sullivan

3. Jason Foley

4. Tom O’Sullivan

5. Paul Murphy

6. Tadhg Morley

7. Gavin White

8. Diarmuid O’Connor

9. Jack Barry

10. Dara Moynihan

11. Seánie O’Shea

12. Adrian Spillane

13. Paudie Clifford

14. David Clifford

15. Paul Geaney

Subs: S Murphy, T Brosnan, D Casey, BD O’Sullivan, R Murphy, M Burns, M Breen, S O’Brien, D O’Sullivan, C O’Donoghue, S O’Brien.


1. Micheál Aodh Martin

2. Maurice Shanley

3. Rory Maguire

4. Kevin O’Donovan

5. Luke Fahy

6. Daniel O’Mahony

7. Matty Taylor

8. Colm O’Callaghan

9. Ian Maguire

10. Brian O’Driscoll

11. Ruairí Deane

12. Killian O’Hanlon

13. Seán Powter

14. Brian Hurley

15. Chris Óg Jones

Subs: P Doyle, C Kiely, T Clancy, K Flahive, P Walsh, E McSweeney, B Murphy, J O’Rourke , M Cronin, S Sherlock, F Herlihy.

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Is Killarney green or blue? Celtic and Athletic to face off in tonight’s league final



Kerry Premier A League Final

Killarney Celtic v Killarney Athletic

Tonight at 7.45pm

Mounthawk Park, Tralee

Killarney Celtic will be gunning for their fifth league title in a row tonight (Friday) when they take on crosstown rivals Killarney Athletic in Tralee.

Celtic have been the dominant force in Kerry soccer in recent times with Athletic playing second fiddle. This will be the third Premier A final in a row to be contested by the Killarney clubs; Celtic won the 2020 decider 4-0 and last year’s final ended in a 3-0 victory for the club from Derreen. (The 2020/21 season was scrapped due to the pandemic.)

Prior to that, Celtic defeated Castleisland in 2019 and Dingle Bay Rovers in 2018, both on a scoreline of 1-0.

Celtic and Athletic also met in the 2017 final. The Blues prevailed in that particular encounter to capture their first ever Premier A title.

As for this season, Neilus Hayes’ Hoops qualified for the final by virtue of their first-place finish in the Premier A. Despite losing key players – including attackers Ryan Kelliher, Stephen McCarthy and Trpimir Vrljicak – to the Kerry FC project, the Celts won 12 of their 14 matches and ended up with an imposing goal difference of +34.

Athletic were not far behind, however; Stuart Templeman’s team only lost one league game all season en route to 35 points – one behind Celtic and 11 clear of Castleisland in third.

Interestingly, both of Celtic’s losses came at the hands of Athletic. The Woodlawn outfit impressively beat the old enemy 3-2 and 0-1 over the course of the regular season.

Goals by Roko Rujevcan, Pedja Glumcevic and a 90th-minute winner by Brendan Moloney clinched that dramatic 3-2 win in October of last year. It was a result that signalled Athletic’s intentions for the rest of the season.

Rujevcan was also on the scoresheet when Athletic snatched a rare away win at Celtic Park on April 30.

Celtic’s imposing record in finals probably makes them slight favourites and in the likes of John McDonagh, Brendan Falvey, Wayne Sparling, Kevin O’Sullivan and Witness Odirile they have a potent mix of steel and skill.

But Athletic will take heart from their recent results in this fixture and they will be hoping that two of the stars from the 2017 team – Shane Doolan and Shane Lynch – can lead the current crop of players to glory.

Meanwhile, the Division 2B final between Killarney Athletic B and Atletico Ardfert that was also due to take place tonight has been cancelled. Athletic have received a walkover.


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