Fossa and Rathmore all set for Croker double-header
by Eamonn Fitzgerald
It is still only January but what an antidote to the seasonally wild, wet, and windy weather it is for supporters of Rathmore and Fossa to be heading off to Croke Park.
The Devil’s Ladder was cleared on Saturday last. The pinnacle lies ahead. Will it be scaled successfully, and will major silverware be brought home so early in the year?
Both clubs will be grateful to Seán Kelly, the former GAA president who extended the opportunity for even the smallest GAA club in the country to win an All-Ireland title and to play those finals in Croke Park.
Both finals will go ahead at HQ on Sunday, commencing with the junior final at 1.30pm followed intermediate final at 3.30pm. TG4 will carry both games live .
FOSSA v STEWARTSTOWN HARPS
Fossa came through with flying colours at Portlaoise last weekend. This venue has been a graveyard for so many Kerry teams but after an uncertain start when Castletown could have gone five points clear, Fossa asserted supremacy. Once Cian O’Shea finished the ball to the net after 19 minutes and Emmett scored a second one, Castletown struggled badly. They were 2-7 to 0-6 in arrears at half-time.
The result was never in doubt two minutes after the restart when Eoin Talbot scored their third goal. Passage to the final was secured.
The Clifford brothers were as consistently brilliant as ever. Paudie’s endless energy setting up attacks from centre back was not wasted up front by younger brother David who scored seven points.
Fossa manager Adrian Sheehan will be delighted with the form of Matt Rennie, the O’Sheas and goalkeeper Shane O’Sullivan who is getting good cover from the defence.
Will Fossa be All-Ireland Junior club champions on Sunday next? I expect so. Not just as easy as that, of course. All-Ireland finals are won on the day by the team that delivers its best display when it really matters.
The Clifford brothers are so far ahead of any other players at this level that the Tyrone side will have to do something special to cause an upset.
However, Kerry teams never get it easy against Tyrone opposition. Eamonn Fitzmaurice will remember the pain of losing to this opposition when he was a player with Finuge. On Sunday next, he will be on the management team with Fossa.
A lot will depend on the referee. If he ignores blatant pulling, dragging, body checking and much worse than that, then it will take the extra class of the Cliffords to steer the boat to the safety of the prized harbour.
Stewartstown Harps had a real battle and had to go to extra time to beat Galway champions Clifden 1-14 to 1-9 after extra time at Dr Hyde Park. They are strongly Catholic and Nationalist, tough and resilient. They will not bend their knee easily and will relish the challenge of a Kerry club team.
I believe that Croke Park will bring out the best in the Cliffords, and class will tell once overconfidence is banished. It is not a foregone conclusion, but I expect Fossa to be crowned All-Ireland Junior Club champions.
RATHMORE v GALBALLY PEARSES
As expected, Rathmore eased into the Intermediate final by defeating St Mogue’s Fethard of Wexford 2-16 to 1-10.
With a score like that one would expect Chrissy Spiers, Rathmore’s top scorer in this campaign, to end with 10 points or so. Not so on this occasion as the Ryan brothers delivered 1-8 between them.
Kerry All-Star goalkeeper Shane Ryan, playing at corner forward, grabbed the goal initiative in the 12th minute and the Sliabh Luachra men went on a scoring spree of 2-5. The second goal was scored by the ever-consistent poacher, John Moynihan.
The Wexford side did engineer somewhat of a rally, before half-time scoring 1-4, but no doubt Denis Moynihan used the half-time talk to get them back on track. Rathmore were so much on top in the second half that they did not have to depend on Kenneth O’Keeffe to make a great save at the finish. The veteran goalkeeper is still playing so well, releasing Shane Ryan to add potency to their attack.
What a day it will be for the three Ryan brothers in Croke Park, Shane, Mark, and Cathal. Will Rathmore bring home the All-Ireland cup?
They have plenty of good players in all lines of the field, but their full-back Andrew Moynihan may not start. He pulled a hamstring in training during Christmas and hamstrings are notoriously slow to heal fully. He has had a great season and will be a big loss if unable to start.
Their ability to score goals was the difference between Dunmore McHales of Galway and Galbally last weekend. The former lost 1-9 to 4-4 after conceding three of those goals in the first half. Galbally do not have any county player and their best-known member is Paddy Tally. The former Tyrone player and much-travelled coach was a key man in Jack O’Connor’s management team in 2022.
Rathmore have skated through all opposition this year once they got over An Ghaeltacht in the Kerry final. They need to control play from the start on Sunday, keep the defence tight and avoid conceding goals. O’Keefe is playing so well in goals and Kerry star Paul Murphy will marshal their defence.
I expect brothers Mark and Cathal Ryan to win midfield and with Shane Ryan, Brian Friel, and ace free-taker Spiers to point the way, they have the winning formula. Just like Fossa, they need to assert supremacy and impose their dominance on the scoreboard. They must avoid the expected Tyrone ambush.
THE FOSSA NUGGET
Best of luck to Fossa and Rathmore, who will be looking for support for their fund-raising efforts to defray the very significant cost involved in an All-Ireland Club campaign.
Contributions from the Munster Council and the Central Council are miserable. Surely, the GAA will rethink that financial support this year. After all, David Clifford has been such a box office draw wherever he played, attracting so many extra hundreds of supporters. When the final whistle is blown where do the hordes of supporters and neutrals rush, but to be near the Footballer of the Year, David Clifford. The Nugget from Fossa.
But even the goose that lays the golden egg needs to be nourished.
The two Tyrone clubs’ main fundraisers for the finals are sponsorship for the full panel of players at €100 a pop, and the response has been magnificent with great help from the Tyrone diaspora, particularly in the USA.
MORAN SHOWS CLASS
Kilmacud Crokes won their Senior Club semi-final but just by one goal. Kerins O’Rahillys did so well to take them to the last seconds in the five minutes of overtime.
Who else but David Moran, my Man of the Match, to win that that late ball and punch for an equaliser. The keeper was beaten but a defender swept the ball away to safety.
Well played Kerins O’Rahillys. It was fitting that Moran, Kerry’s best club midfielder that I have seen for the past number of years, almost sent the game into extra time. Yes, he has been that consistent and Jack O’Connor will be looking for a replacement if David calls it a day at intercounty level. He has been magnificent.
Diarmuid O’Connor, Jack Barry and others will compete for the midfield spots for Jack’s team in 2023 but none are in Moran’s class. Are there more potential Kerry midfielders around the county?
PAUDIE PALMER RIP
Too young to die. Too full of life, energy, enthusiasm and Kerry roguery. Paudie Palmer RIP was laid to rest at Innishannon on Wednesday last following an untimely and heart-breaking hit-and-run road accident.
I have known Paudie for many years and our lives and paths crossed so often, especially in relation to GAA games at individual colleges and intercounty levels. He spent most of his teaching life at St Brogan’s College, Bandon, where he was a very popular teacher of science and was very involved with Cork VEC football teams.
When we met on opposite sides in the Kerry colleges and county teams the banter was energising. After his retirement from teaching, he brought the same enthusiasm to his work as a radio commentator with C103. Knowledgeable, effective and articulate, he had a way with words on air and in the printed media with the Echo.
He never forgot where he came from or lost his native endearing Kerry smile, plámás, unfailing good humour, or whatever it took to enliven your day. Paudie was the kind of soul you loved to meet and anywhere there was ball to be kicked, he was there.
Pre-match exchanges were great until he stopped you in full flow. “Yerra, we’ll get back to that and we’ll certainly meet up at the weekend for the next match. Must go now, on the air in 90 seconds. Go on, go on, go on…”
He loved Templenoe and was very proud of the achievements of that team making great strides up through the divisions of the Kerry leagues. 022 could not have been better with so many All-Ireland medals won by club members to add to the collections of the Spillane brothers. Paudie travelled to Tralee on the day prior to his accident to attend the funeral of the great Kerry defender of the 1950s, Mixie Palmer, son of PW, the Sneem native related to Paudie.
From Direendaragh, Blackwater and Templenoe and for most of his life in Cork, he was a wonderful person and he had a great way with people. The airwaves are silent, and we are so glad to have had the opportunities to be with him. He was a tonic to meet. One is grateful for the days you met Palmer; the memories of the grámhar Kerryman adopted by Cork live on.
Well, his journey in this life is over and what a heartbreak that is for his beloved wife Colette and daughters, Claire and Emily. To those closest to him and his huge extended GAA family of friends and listeners, guím solas na bhFlaitheas ar Phaudie agus solas na Síorraiochta ar a chlann.
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.
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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