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Fossa and Rathmore all set for Croker double-header

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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.

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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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