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Eamonn Fitzgerald: Ricken is right to stick to his guns

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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.

SEMI-FINAL

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

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.

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Paudie Clifford returns and scores wondergoal as Kerry dismantle Monaghan

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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.

GIFTED

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.

UNDONE

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.

Attendance: 10,232

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Handball continues to shine in Killarney

By Con Dennehy Handball in the Killarney region can look back at 2022 as a year of continued progress, the promotion of handball in East Kerry and the introduction of […]

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By Con Dennehy

Handball in the Killarney region can look back at 2022 as a year of continued progress, the promotion of handball in East Kerry and the introduction of the sport to a new generation.

It has been a phenomenal and successful year for the Spa Killarney Club. At the Annual General Meeting of the club this week, one of the highlights of the year singled out for mention was the hosting and promotion of a One Wall National Tournament which attracted players from all over Ireland to the Killarney venue in March.

There was joy for the home club at the tournament when Currow native and Spa Killarney Club member Aoife Walsh had an impressive victory in the highly competitive Ladies B championship.

There was also an international dimension for the club in 2022 when four players took part in the European One Wall Tournament in London. At this event Eoin O’Donoghue won gold in the Open Doubles B championship where he partnered with John Joe Quirke from Glenbeigh and Brendan O’Donoghue won a silver medal in the Over 40 Doubles final.

“As a new club we were delighted with the success we achieved in 2022. In January Aoife Walsh and Sinead Moriarty took home silverware in the highly competitive She’s Ace competition in Tyrone. This really was our springboard for success during the year and resulted in some of our players competing in the One Wall national finals in Roscommon in July. We are looking forward to an exciting 2023 and hopefully welcoming new members to the club,” said Eoin O’Donoghue, PRO of Spa Killarney Handball Club.

The club rounded off a memorable year in October when they hosted the Munster One Wall championships and the Kerry Handball Board AGM in November where club members Kieran O’Brien was elected president of Kerry Handball and Brendan O’Donoghue was appointed delegate to the Kerry GAA Board.

Officers Elected for 2023/2024: Brendan O’Donoghue (Chairman), Sinead Moriarty (Vice Chairperson), David Gillespie (Secretary), Eoin O’Donoghue (PRO) and James O’Brien (Treasurer).

Open Night

Spa Killarney Handball Club will host an Open Night at the Spa GAA Club on Monday night (February 6). This will be an opportunity for attendees to savour the thrill of handball, have a taster game and meet the club players. It commences at 7pm and all over 18s are welcome.

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