Frontrunners battle for position in Kerry Senior Football Championship
The new format has given us more games but so far the 2022 Kerry Senior Football Championship has offered little in terms of surprises. Seven teams have already secured safe passage through to the last eight with one round of group games still to play, and seven teams are already out.
The only pool still up in the air to any significant degree is Group 4 where South Kerry could pip Templenoe for the second qualifying spot if they beat St Brendan’s and first place Feale Rangers beat Templenoe. Rangers don’t technically need to win that fixture in Templenoe as they are guaranteed their place in the next round following two impressive wins.
Elsewhere, Groups 1, 2 and 3 have effectively been decided. Having emerged victorious in both of their games to date, Dr Crokes and Kenmare Shamrocks (Group 1), East Kerry and Dingle (Group 2), and Austin Stacks and Mid Kerry (Group 3) will contest the quarter-finals irrespective of their results in Round 3.
The only thing that’s really on the line is the No. 1 seed in each group and this factor could actually turn out to be rather important. The top team in each pool will play a runner-up from another group in the knockout phase, so nabbing the first seed could mean avoiding one of the big teams – East Kerry, for example – in the last eight.
Of course, if you’re going to win the competition you’ll probably have to beat East Kerry (or the team that beats them) at some point but it is, perhaps, wise find the less difficult route to the final if at all possible.
There could well be fireworks at the Group 1 decider between Dr Crokes and Kenmare Shamrocks at Fr Breen Park. The sides have had serious battles in recent seasons, perhaps most notably in the 2021 Club Championship when 15 points from the boot of Seánie Shea consigned Crokes to the relegation playoff. That game ended in controversial fashion as Crokes felt aggrieved with the award of the match-winning free.
The Killarney club managed to stay up in the end but they will no doubt be keen to bite back. Another positive result for Kenmare in this fixture will firmly establish them as Crokes’ bogey team.
East Kerry are still very much the frontrunners but they will be tested by fellow group leaders Dingle back in Páirc an Ághasaigh. David Clifford made a cameo against Spa last weekend; could East Kerry manager Jerry O’Sullivan hand the Kerry star his first start of the championship on Sunday?
Meanwhile, reigning champions Austin Stacks travel to Beaufort to take on 2020 runners-up Mid Kerry. Sadly for the Tralee outfit their bad luck with injuries continues to haunt them. After losing Joe O’Connor the week before, there are now concerns over Brendan O’Sullivan who was forced off early on in their victory over West Kerry.
5.30pm - Kenmare Shamrocks v Dr Crokes (Fr Breen Park)
5.30pm - Spa v Kerins O’Rahillys (Tullig)
5.30pm - West Kerry v Na Gaeil (Gallarus)
2.30pm - Shannon Rangers v St Kieran’s (Ballylongford)
2.30pm - Dingle v East Kerry (Páirc an Ághasaigh)
2.30pm - Mid Kerry v Austin Stacks (Beaufort)
2.30pm - Templenoe v Feale Rangers (Templenoe)
2.30pm - South Kerry v St Brendan’s (Cahersiveen)
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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