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County Final Preview: Hungry East Kerry forwards will be hard to stop

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Kerry Senior Football Championship Final
East Kerry v Mid Kerry
Today at 7pm
Austin Stack Park
Live on 247.tv

 

We made it anyway. That’s the main thing. For a while there it looked like we wouldn’t have any County Championship this year, so well done to all involved for making sure that we won’t have a bothersome asterisk alongside ‘2020’ on the Kerry SFC Wikipedia page.

And you’d have to say that, all things considered, it has been an entertaining tournament. A return to the straight knockout format of old (a necessary revision due to time constraints post-lockdown) added to the excitement and there have been some cracking matches to date. Dr Crokes v Austin Stacks, East Kerry v St Kieran’s and Mid Kerry v Kenmare spring to mind, although all three fall just short of the immaculate standard set by Mid Kerry’s frantic triumph over the Crokes in the last four.

Whatever the outcome this evening, let’s all hope for a fitting finale. With the plethora of talent on show, we should have nothing to worry about.

JUSTIFIED

East Kerry were odds-on favourites to retain the Bishop Moynihan Cup in 2020 and in two of their three matches thus far, they justified that pre-tournament status. In truth, Feale Rangers provided little by way of resistance in Round 1 and St Brendan’s fell well short of the required standard in the semi-final.

That squeaky encounter in between against an energetic St Kieran’s side was their only real test. In fact, they could well have been beaten that day had Kieran’s not missed a second-half penalty.

All-in-all it has been business as usual, though. Paul Murphy has come in and provided an extra layer of security and calmness to what was already a very assured back line. At midfield, Ronan Buckley has built on a really impressive campaign in 2019 to come back looking stronger and more commanding than ever. And up front, Paudie Clifford continues to dictate proceedings with his mazy runs, delectable kick-passing and eye for goal.

That would be enough of a platform for any team to challenge for a county title, and we haven’t even mentioned the full forward line yet.

In the younger Clifford, Darragh Roche and Evan Cronin, East Kerry have three of the deadliest scorers in the game and it is a monumental task, bordering on the impossible, to keep all three quiet on a given day.

Cronin is probably the unsung hero of this trio, which is strange considering how frequently he finds the target. The Spa man is very diligent and very active; he is constant thorn in the opposition’s side. His goal against Brendan’s was superbly taken and he will be keen to replicate his efforts in last year’s final when he kicked four points from play.

If 13, 14 and 15 play well for East Kerry – and they don’t even have to be spectacular – the Bishop will more than likely be coming back to Killarney via Farranfore for the second year in a row.

MERIT

That’s not to say that Mid Kerry are chasing a lost cause. Manager Peter O’Sullivan has led his side to three really fine wins to make it this far and they are certainly here on merit.

They demolished Kilcummin in Round 1 and, in truth, their double scores margin of victory didn’t flatter them one bit on the day. Then they showed great determination to hang on against Kenmare and win by a single point. It could have gone either way but Mid Kerry showed great character to get over the line, and that character was on show in abundance in their battle for the ages against the Crokes.

The divisional side were nothing short of heroic in that one-point, extra-time win and now they find themselves 60 minutes (or maybe 80, or maybe 80 plus however long a penalty shootout takes) away from their first county title in 12 years.

Just two players who played in that 2008 victory over Rahilly’s are involved tomorrow: Darran O’Sullivan, who was corner forward then and still is, and Garry Sayers, who started in ’08 and came off the bench against Dr Crokes two weeks ago.

Centre forward Fiachra Clifford and full forward Liam Carey have made significant contributions up to this point but there has been one standout performer: Glenbeigh-Glencar marksman Gavan O’Grady.

O’Grady is averaging 1-6 per game in this year’s competition and he will in all likelihood have to maintain that firing rate, if not improve upon it, if Mid Kerry are to upset the odds in the final. East Kerry have plenty of options in terms of markers. Jack Sherwood is the most experienced head in that full back line and he would be up to the task, as would Glenflesk corner back Chris O’Donoghue who has been a very consistent defender for East Kerry over the course of the 2019 and 2020 championships.

From a neutral’s point of view, you would hope that O’Grady is at his influential best and that he and his supporting cast, which includes Kerry players Peter Crowley and Pa Kilkenny, give the champions a right good rattle.

It is a tall order, however, and with a hungry David Clifford back in the starting line-up after serving his one-match suspension, one suspects that Jerry O’Sullivan’s side will be that little bit too strong for their divisional rivals.

Verdict: East Kerry by four.

 

EAST KERRY (POSSIBLE): Shane Ryan (Rathmore); Niall Donohue (Firies), Jack Sherwood (Firies), Chris O’Donoghue (Glenflesk); Shane Cronin (Spa), Dan O’Donoghue (Spa), Paul Murphy (Rathmore); Mark Ryan (Rathmore), Ronan Buckley (Listry); Dara Moynihan (Spa), Paudie Clifford (Fossa), Brendan O’Keeffe (Rathmore); David Clifford (Fossa), Darragh Roche (Glenflesk), Evan Cronin (Spa).

MID KERRY (POSSIBLE): Stephen Cahillane (Keel); Jack Brosnan (Glenbeigh-Glencar), Pa Wrenn (Milltown-Castlemaine), David Mangan (Laune Rangers); Peter Crowley (Laune Rangers), Mike Breen (Beaufort), Pa Kilkenny (Glenbeigh-Glencar); Colin McGillicuddy (Glenbeigh-Glencar), Ronan Murphy (Beaufort); David Roche (Milltown-Castlemaine), Fiachra Clifford (Laune Rangers), Ciarán Kennedy (Beaufort); Gavan O’Grady (Glenbeigh-Glencar), Liam Carey (Beaufort), Darran O’Sullivan (Glenbeigh-Glencar).

 

The Kerry SFC final is being streamed live by 247.tv.

 

Above: East Kerry forward Evan Cronin and Mid Kerry veteran Darran O'Sullivan. Pics: Sportsfile.

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Glorious weather for Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships

It was a day of glorious sunshine yesterday (Sunday) as Flesk Valley Rowing Club hosted the 2022 Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships for the very first time in beautiful Castlelough […]

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It was a day of glorious sunshine yesterday (Sunday) as Flesk Valley Rowing Club hosted the 2022 Kerry County Coastal Rowing championships for the very first time in beautiful Castlelough Bay on Lough Lein.

Hundreds flocked to the Valley shore to see the coastal clubs of Kerry race in crews from Under 12 to Masters. As well as clubs from around the Ring of Kerry, there was a strong representation from the Killarney clubs with the Workmen, Commercials and Fossa wearing their colours with pride. The atmosphere, colour, fun and fierce competition produced a spectacular day that will live long in the memory.

The event was opened by the Councillor John O’Donoghue, vice chair of the Killarney Municipal District who congratulated Flesk Valley on their centenary, which occurred during 1920, and wished all of the clubs a successful day’s racing.

The first race was preceded by a special blessing of the boats by Fr Eugene McGillycuddy, who also remembered Brendan Teahan of Cromane Rowing Club in his prayers.

Afterwards John Fleming, chair of Flesk Valley, expressed his immense pride and satisfaction with the success of the regatta.

“It’s our first time ever hosting a regatta, but we wanted to do something special to mark our 102 years in existence,” he said.

“It was a lot of work, but we have a fantastic hard-working committee in Flesk Valley who really pulled out all the stops to make it happen, and we received fantastic support from our members, parents, other clubs and local businesses.”

John also thanked the Kerry Coastal Rowing Association, in particular Mary B Teahan and Andrew Wharton, and the staff of the Killarney National Park for all their support and encouragement in hosting this event.

This was a qualifying event and the Kerry clubs will be heading to Wexford next weekend to complete for honours at the All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships.

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Live referee mics should be the norm – swearing concerns be damned

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by Adam Moynihan

I was disappointed to learn that the GAA are preventing TG4 from using their live referee mic in this Sunday’s Wexford hurling final.

(And not just because I had already written an article saying how great live referee mics are and how they are sure to be implemented across the board. Ctrl + A. Delete.)

TG4’s GAA coverage is superb and they raised the bar once again when they mic’d up referee John O’Halloran for the Kerry hurling final between Causeway and Ballyduff.

Pinning a microphone on the referee is standard practice in televised rugby and judging by the positive response to Gaelic games’ first foray into this territory, I was expecting it to become the norm.

It still might but, explaining their decision to The 42, the GAA said that they were not aware beforehand of the ref mic being trialled in Stack Park on Sunday.

“They believe such a development will require more discussion and education if it is to be implemented on a more regular basis in live TV coverage and could possibly need a policy change,” Fintan O’Toole reported.

The image of the Association is surely the primary concern here.

Players and managers – usually the worst behaved participants when it comes to things like swearing – will be among those who get “educated” on the subject. Some verbal abuse that might otherwise be muted for television viewers will, in all likelihood, be picked up by the referee’s microphone. You would imagine that the teams involved will be reminded of this the week of a televised game.

It also makes sense from Croke Park’s point of view to speak to referees and give them guidance on how to conduct themselves when the mic is on.

In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if senior GAA figures are currently fretting over the possibility of an agitated ref making headlines for something they say in the heat of the moment. And make no mistake about it, some match officials can eff and jeff with the best of them.

A friend of mine (a Wexford man, funnily enough) recalls an incident when a teammate was unceremoniously taken out of it by an opponent.

“Ah ref, for f***’s sake!” the victim complained.

“I gave you the f***ing free,” the referee replied. “What do you want me to do, slap him in the face with a wet fish?!”

The GAA might think that a referee swearing like that would leave all of us red-faced. In reality the clip would be a viral sensation and the general public would probably call for the official in question to run for Áras an Uachtárain. (He’d get my ****ing vote.)

The odd swear word from someone involved is bound to sneak through every now and then but you’d hear the same – and plenty more – at any match you attend from Cahersiveen to County Antrim.

Implementing the referee mic on a wider scale is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t appear to take a huge amount of effort or expense for the broadcaster to set it up and, more importantly, it offers a wonderful insight into the unknown.

Listening to referees explain their decisions in real time will clear a lot of things up for commentators, analysts and the media. We will no longer have to speculate about what they did or did not see, or what specific rule is being cited, or why.

Viewers, especially those who might be casual followers of the sport, will appreciate it too and become more educated; I know that’s how I feel when I watch rugby, for example.

It just leads to greater transparency and understanding.

Well done to TG4 and the Kerry County Board for being the pioneers. I’m sure others will follow their lead – as soon as the GAA allow them to do so.

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