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Double Summer Cup success for Athletic

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There was cause for celebrations on the double for Killarney Athletic this past week following two impressive cup final victories at schoolboy level.

The Blues prevailed at both the U13 and U14 grades after two hard-fought deciders against tough opposition, with high drama at the climax of the U14 contest in particular.

Athletic were up against Killorglin for this one and the match at Celtic Park appeared to be heading for extra time with the sides deadlocked at 0-0. But then, in the final minute of normal time, up stepped Brían O’Shea to deliver a corner that deceived the Killorglin defence and found its way into the back of the net. The Blues held on for a memorable 1-0 win over a valiant Killorglin outfit.

Meanwhile, Athletic’s U13s got the better of MEK Galaxy in their final with goals from Szymon Jasinski and JJ O’Donoghue sealing a 2-0 victory at Kilbrean Park. Some fine goalkeeping by Evan McCrohan kept Galaxy at bay in the second half, and the Blues took home the trophy.

CELTIC GIRLS

Athletic’s crosstown rivals, Killarney Celtic, also had reason to celebrate over the weekend as their U13 girls team defeated Listowel Celtic in the final of their Summer Cup competition at Christy Leahy Park. After a tense match which finished 0-0, Celtic’s Emma Daly came into her own, hitting an incredible hat-trick to all but seal the win. Credit to Listowel, they stuck at it and pulled one back via Fiona O’Brien. The Killarney side were not to be denied, however, and they secured a brilliant 3-1 victory.

These matches marked the end of the summer action and Kerry Schoolboys/Girls League Secretary David Slattery expressed his gratitude to everyone who helped to ensure that the competitions were a success.

“We played hundreds of games over all the ages and the players certainly loved being back on the field. While it was outside our normal season all the clubs and coaches bought into the idea of the competitions and we had some wonderful games.

“Everyone will take a short break now until pre-season will start towards the end of August.”

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James O’Donoghue retires from intercounty football

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James O'Donoghue during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Final. PICTURE: BRENDAN MORAN/SPORTSFILE

by Adam Moynihan

Former Player of the Year and two-time All-Star James O’Donoghue has announced his retirement from intercounty football.

The Killarney Legion forward stepped away from Peter Keane’s panel in 2021 to focus on club football, leading to speculation surrounding his future in the green and gold.

O’Donoghue has not featured under new manager Jack O’Connor and today, speaking to Off The Ball, he confirmed that he had actually privately retired last year.

“It’s all over, it’s all over bar the shouting,” the 31-year-old said.

“Last year, I was fighting an uphill battle. Realistically, I stepped away from the panel just before the going got very serious because I wasn’t really contributing. I told them at that stage that I was retiring but because Kerry were going too well, we decided not to put out a statement and throw all the good vibes out of the camp. So we just kept it under wraps.

“It’s a painful one, it’s definitely something that’s going to be hard, but it’s the right thing.”

Although he had initially resigned himself to stepping away for good, O’Donoghue did admit that he tried to get himself right for another cut under Jack O’Connor.

“I know Jack well, very well and have always got on great with him, and I know that if I was right, I could have picked up the phone and rang him and said ‘I’m thinking about changing my mind, what do you think?’

“I actually did give a go at getting into very good nick for it, just to see if I could give it one last go, but do you know what – my body wasn’t up to it, just that the way it is. I’ll go back to the club now, tailor my programme and I guarantee you that I might not see another injury, just the slight drop in intensity might suit me.

“If I was right I could have picked up the phone and we’d have had a chat, but it just didn’t feel right.”

O’Donoghue was speaking on The Football Pod, the OTB podcast which he will now host alongside Paddy Andrews and Tommy Rooney.

Despite his battles with injuries, the Killarney native enjoyed a memorable career for The Kingdom. After making his league debut in 2010, he soon became a key figure in Kerry’s forward division and was integral when Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s side won the 2014 All-Ireland final against Donegal.

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Killarney girls prepared for Munster final duel

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U16 Munster League Final

Killarney RFC v Ennis

Saturday at 1pm

LIT

The Killarney RFC U16 girls’ team are heading for Limerick today (Saturday) hoping to cap a magnificent season with a trophy.

This talented group of players, many of whom are new to the sport, have taken on all comers en route to the decider and now Ennis stand between them and provincial glory.

Even reaching the final is a great achievement for the Aghadoe-based club. Coach Diarmuid O’Malley says his charges will need to find “another level” to get over the line.

“We have seen [Ennis] play on a couple of occasions this season and what’s clear is that they have being together for many years,” O’Malley said. “We again will need to step it up to another level in order to be able to compete effectively against them.

“I look back on the success of the Limerick hurling team when they reached the All-Ireland final in 2018, not many gave them much of a chance at the time. The common theme was that “it’s a young team and their time will come”. They not only took the opportunity in 2018 but have since won three out of the last four All-Irelands.

“Finals are all about being present, patient and taking your opportunity, and not letting the occasion get to you. These girls have a great approach to everything they have done in the most challenging environment this year in the current global circumstances.

“It’s going to be one hell of a battle against a very good Ennis team and they are very much favoured to win, but nothing is beyond this capable bunch of Killarney girls.”

If Killarney are to cause an upset, their defence will be key.

“We have had a phenomenal run to get to the final and all through the journey the girls have not compromised on the quality of the rugby they are playing. The most pleasing aspect of our semifinal win against Bruff was keeping them to zero as we have put huge emphasis on our defence all season.

“We will very much approach the final versus Ennis in the same way.”

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