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CONFIRMED: Crokes and Legion set for Fitzgerald Stadium showdown

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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.

FEROCIOUS

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’S LAYOFF

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.

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Killarney set for festival of football at Spa GAA’s Club 7s

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The third annual Killarney Club 7s tournament will be staged next weekend (June 1-2) at Spa GAA grounds with 36 clubs and over 500 players due to take part.

The hugely successful event has already become a popular fixture of the local sporting calendar with large crowds flocking to Tullig for two days of football and entertainment.

With Heineken as title sponsors and support also coming from the likes of Kellihers Toyota, Killarney Credit Union, Sheahan’s, GMIB.ie, Daly’s SuperValu and O’Callaghan Coaches, attendees will be treated to top quality food and drink on site, as well as a wide array of live music. Acclaimed group Chasing Abbey are the headline act on Saturday with Super Céilí rounding things off on Sunday night.

On the pitch, men’s and women’s teams from all over the country will compete for €10,000 in prize money.

Matches will be played across three excellent pitches, all of which can be easily viewed from all areas of the grounds.

The group stages will be played on Saturday with the knockout rounds scheduled for Sunday. Participating teams include Confey from Kildare, St Finbarr’s from Cork, Castleknock from Dublin and, all the way from Germany, Berlin GAA.

The hosts Spa won the 2023 men’s final in dramatic fashion when a last-gasp goal saw them beat Cuala in front of a boisterous crowd.

Free shuttle buses will be running to Killarney when the festivities wind down at 10pm each night.

For more information, visit killarneyclub7s.ie.

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Fierce rivals Celtic and Athletic set for tense Kerry District League final

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Killarney Celtic’s dominance of the local junior soccer scene appears to show no signs of letting up after the Derreen-based club added more silverware to their cabinet last Sunday – but their fiercest rivals are hoping to rip up the script in this weekend’s league final.

Last week the Hoops defeated Tralee Dynamos in the final of the Greyhound Bar KO Cup to make it six-in-a-row in the county’s most prestigious knockout competition.

Lee Downing was the hero on the day as he scored twice in the first half to put his side in the ascendency. In the end, that was enough to get the job done as the Killarney lads held on for a 2-0 win.

The Celts have the opportunity to complete another league and cup double this weekend, although they will be pushed all the way by a talented young Killarney Athletic outfit in the Premier A final.

The match will take place on Sunday at 4pm in Mounthawk Park in Tralee and Brendan Moloney’s Blues will be eager to bring their neighbours’ remarkable run to an abrupt end.

Athletic will unfortunately be without stalwart Shane Doolan who recently suffered an ACL injury.

Supporters of both clubs are urged to make the journey to Tralee and get behind their teams for one last time this season.

The Killarney Athletic B team play Iveragh United in the Tommy Healy Cup final replay at the same venue at 1pm.

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