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Eamonn Fitzgerald: Ricken is right to stick to his guns



Eamonn Fitzgerald shares his take on the Kerry v Cork ‘Páirc Uí Rinn or Nowhere’ debacle

The Páirc Uí Rinn saga rolls on. In brief, this is the gig of the Munster Council of the GAA and it’s for them to sort out. Very little has emanated publicly from that body but I have no doubt there are frantic efforts underway privately. Just like the graceful swan gliding peacefully on calm waters, but under the surface those damn legs are working furiously to reach the safety of the bank – or, rather, the banks of my own lovely Lee.

The Lee flows alongside Páirc Uí Chaoímh, that magnificent stadium, albeit in the wrong location in my opinion. Not that we in Kerry GAA circles have been clever in selecting the best location. I have dealt with this issue in the past, contending that the Kerry Centre of Excellence is in the wrong location at Currans. There were extenuating circumstances when the proposed excellent choice of site at Fossa fell through. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the Kerry County Board moved with undue haste in settling for Currans.

The old maxim still holds true: location is everything.


So where will be the location for the Kerry v Cork Munster football semi-final on May 7?

Without the benefit of knowing what negotiations involving the vested interests took place during this week, one can only make an educated guess on the likely outcome. I believe that the game will go ahead at Páirc Ui Rinn on May 7.

Kerry and Cork have a long-established home and away arrangement for their Munster Championship games each year, irrespective of whether it is in the first round or at the semi-final stage.

We have new managers in both Kerry and Cork. It really is no business of Kerry boss Jack O’Connor and the astute Dromid man did the right thing at the correct time. Silence is golden in such circumstances.

Cork have home venue, but a certain Ed Sheeran is booked for Páiirc Uí Chaoímh and will take centre stage in every sense of the phrase. He’s a fine singer and performer, but why is this English singing star tying up Páirc Uí Chaoímh slap bang in the peak GAA season?

Money. Yes, money matters and when the revamping of Páirc Uí Chaoímh ran so much over budget, the Cork County Board was left with a hefty bill, currently estimated in the region of €25 million. How to manage such an enormous debt is a tall order for the board led by Kevin O’Donovan, who has taken over from Frank Murphy, the first full time GAA secretary in the country. He ran the county board for over 40 years and his successor Kevin O’Donovan is the new secretary/CEO.

With the help of Cairde Chorchaí, the board booked the popular Sheeran to earn a significant windfall. Admission prices are not cheap by any means. Patrons will get little change out of €100 for a good ticket. Sheeran is on a world tour so the Cork slot fits in well with the promoters, unfortunately at a crucial time in the GAA calendar.

The Cork County Board would have been aware of that but in fairness to them the decision to split the GAA season into two parts for 2022 (January to July for intercounty and the rest of the year for the club scene) came late.


Keith Ricken is in his first year as manager of the Cork senior football team after guiding the U20s to All-Ireland success. When Páirc Úí Chaoímh was booked he made it known to the Cork County Board that he and the players wanted Páirc Uí Rinn – not to take the easy option of switching to Killarney. After the 20-point trouncing in the Fitzgerald Stadium last summer, he didn’t want his young and inexperienced players thrown into the lion’s den.

I believe that Keith should stick to his guns and the players also want Páirc Uí Rinn. If they played this game in Killarney, Kerry would have to travel to Cork for the next two years. These young players know full well that many of them may not even be on the panel for next year.

For a Munster final one can expect an attendance of around 20,000 in Killarney and in Páirc Uí Chaoímh. 10,000 or a max of 11,000 will fill Páirc Uí Rinn. What are the chances of a regular follower getting into Páirc Uí Rinn? What’s more Sky, and not RTÉ, will be transmitting this Munster semi-final.

What has surprised me that all the focus seems to be on the Cork football team but little about how the Sheeran factor will impinge on the hopes of the Cork hurlers. Never forget that hurling is number one in Cork and football comes a very poor second. The hurlers would like Páirc Uí Chaoimh, but the fallout from the Ed Sheeran concert will hit them hard.

Whatever about the hurling, the likely scenario, I expect, is for Kerry to defeat Cork on May 7 – and Páirc Uí Rinn will be the venue.


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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