by Adam Moynihan
December is almost upon us and there has been a noticeable turn in the weather this past week. The nights are icy cold. In the morning the town is coated with a thick layer of white frost.
Yes, there is a very definite chill in the air around the streets and laneways of Killarney - but not all of it is meteorological.
Dr Crokes’ championship exit at the hands of Kerins O’Rahillys has edged them one step closer to the unthinkable. Their failure to reach the county final means that the monumental relegation showdown with bitter rivals Legion will now go ahead, with the date set for the first Sunday of winter (December 5 at noon).
In a town that is utterly obsessed with its football and its famous football clubs, defeat will spell disaster.
For one tribe, this battle could signal the beginning of winter in more ways than one.
The team from Lewis Road could have avoided this playoff had they managed to defeat Rahillys in Sunday’s county semi-final; exemption from relegation is assured to any side who reach the final of the Kerry Senior Football Championship. Leading by six points early in the second half, it looked like they were on their way, but a ferocious fightback by their Tralee opponents turned the tie on its head.
Strand Road came out swinging in that second period and they delivered the knockout blow – quite literally in the case of Crokes keeper Shane Murphy, who was knocked unconscious in a nasty-looking collision in the 47th minute. Somehow the Rahillys player escaped with just a yellow, but more telling for Edmund O’Sullivan’s side was Murphy’s absence for the remainder of the game.
Momentum shifted in their opponents’ favour thereafter and with David Moran bursting into life around the middle and the triumvirate of Keane, Savage and Hayes doing the damage inside, Rahillys secured a narrow one-point victory.
Murphy's availability for the playoff is now one of the biggest talking points ahead of next week's showdown in the Fitzgerald Stadium. The nature of the injury, and the fact that the player has suffered from concussion in the past, has naturally led to questions around whether or not he will be cleared in time to play.
Sunday’s loss was harrowing for Crokes but there were positives too, perhaps most notably the performance of the evergreen Johnny Buckley who dominated the majority of the midfield exchanges. In fact, there was plenty to like about the Killarney side’s first half display with most of their players winning their individual contests.
The manner of the defeat will sting but there's no denying that on their day the Crokes are still a very formidable force.
Legion are understandably relieved that Crokes missed out on the final, but by the time the playoff comes around they will have been out of action for four weeks, which is hardly ideal. Their form this season has been disappointing by their own standards so they are likely to enter this encounter as underdogs.
That being said, they were underdogs for the 2019 O’Donoghue Cup (East Kerry Championship) final and they gave their old foes a sound beating that day.
Dr Crokes were victorious in the last meeting between the sides: last year's O'Donoghue Cup quarter-final in Derreen, which the visitors won by three points.
The relegation playoff promises to be an intriguing fixture but for now Crokes’ attention turns to the East Kerry Championship. Their semi-final against Rathmore will take place in Kilcummin on Sunday at 2pm.
In the other semi, Spa face Glenflesk on Saturday at 2pm in the Fitzgerald Stadium.
Meanwhile, the county final between Kerins O'Rahillys and Austin Stacks has been fixed for the same day as the playoff (Sunday, December 5) at 3pm. The match will be played in Austin Stack Park in Tralee.
Paudie Clifford returns and scores wondergoal as Kerry dismantle Monaghan
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.
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.
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.
St Paul’s ladies’ contribution to club honoured
By Sean Moriarty St Paul’s Basketball club recognised the contribution of its ladies’ players during their National Basketball League home game on Saturday night. Since the start of the season, […]
By Sean Moriarty
St Paul’s Basketball club recognised the contribution of its ladies’ players during their National Basketball League home game on Saturday night.
Since the start of the season, coach James Fleming has named his Most Valuable Player (MVP) after each home game.
The club presented each MVP award winner with a special trophy at halftime during the club’s tie with Dublin side Swords Thunder at Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre on Saturday.
Lynn Jones, who is one of the sport’s longest servants in Kerry, picked up her award from the Limerick Celtics game earlier in the season.
Rheanne O’Shea won the MPV during the Portlaoise Panthers match.
Yuleska Ramirez Tedja was the MPV against UL Sport Huskies last year.
Deise Dunlea was the most recent nomination for an MPV award and she also received her award on Saturday night.
The team also honoured their Irish International player Leah McMahon and presented Leah’s mother Anne with flowers as a thank-you for her support to the club.
“The dedication of these ladies is unbelievable, we have eight games in a row coming up, five at home and one each in Belfast, Cavan and Dublin and they are all working or studying,” manager Siobhan Bennett told the Killarney Advertiser.
“Coach James Fleming wanted to show his appreciation for this dedication.”
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