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Jack O’Connor makes three unforced changes for Kerry’s trip to Meath

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All-Ireland SFC Group 4

Meath v Kerry

Sunday 2pm

Páirc Tailteann, Navan

Live on RTÉ

Jack O'Connor has decided to give three fringe players a chance to shine in Kerry's second All-Ireland group game against Meath on Sunday.

Dylan Casey, Mike Breen and Cillian Burke have all been included in the first 15 with regular starters Paul Murphy, Tadhg Morley and Dara Moynihan dropping to the bench.

Rookie wing forward Burke started six out of Kerry's first nine matches this season but he was a substitute in the last outing against Monaghan.

Graham O'Sullivan (ankle) remains a notable absentee. The in-form corner/half back also missed the previous fixture and supporters will be hoping that he recovers in time for the knockout rounds, assuming that Kerry advance from their group.

KERRY TEAM

1. Shane Ryan

2. Dylan Casey

3. Jason Foley

4. Tom O'Sullivan

5. Brian Ó Beaglaoich

6. Mike Breen

7. Gavin White

8. Diarmuid O'Connor

9. Joe O'Connor

10. Tony Brosnan

11. Paudie Clifford

12. Cillian Burke

13. David Clifford

14. Seánie O'Shea

15. Paul Geaney

Subs: Shane Murphy, Dara Moynihan, Tadhg Morley, Paul Murphy, Seán O'Brien, Adrian Spillane, Barry Dan O'Sullivan, Killian Spillane, Darragh Roche, Armin Heinrich, Dylan Geaney.

As for Meath, Colm O'Rourke has opted to go with the same starting line-up that lost emphatically to Louth in Round 1. Corner back Donal Keogan and centre forward Cillian O'Sullivan are by far the two most experienced players on the team.

MEATH TEAM

1. Billy Hogan

2. Donal Keogan

3. Adam O’Neill

4. Ronan Ryan

5. Harry O’Higgins

6. Darragh Campion 

7. Seán Coffey 

8. Ronan Jones

9. Cian McBride

10. Ciaran Caulfield 

11. Cillian O’Sullivan 

12. Cathal Hickey 

13. James Conlon

14. Mathew Costello

15. Eoghan Frayne

Subs: Seán Brennan, Michael Murphy, Seán Ryan, Brian O'Halloran, Ross Ryan, Conor Gray, Daithí McGowan, Ruairí Kinsella, Jack O'Connor, Jordan Morris, Aaron Lynch.

    The Kingdom are unbackable favourites to pick up an away win at Páirc Tailteann following their comprehensive victory over Monaghan a fortnight ago. O’Connor went for an attack-minded team that day and his decision paid off as all six starting forwards scored from play in what was arguably his side’s most impressive offensive display of the season.

    Colm O’Rourke’s Meath side have not enjoyed a successful season to date. After finishing third from bottom in Division 2 of the National League, they were unceremoniously dumped out of Leinster by Dublin at the semi-final stage (3-19 to 0-12).

    Then, in their first game in the Sam Maguire, they suffered their first defeat to neighbours Louth in 49 years.

    Historically, Kerry have had the upper hand versus Meath in the championship. The counties have met on eight occasions with Kerry winning six times and Meath winning twice.

    The most famous encounter between the sides in living memory was Meath’s remarkable 15-point victory in the 2001 All-Ireland semi-final. Páidí Ó Sé’s Kerry were the reigning All-Ireland champions and many expected them to advance to another final against Galway, but they were blown out of the water by a terrific team performance by Seán Boylan’s Meath.

    Kerry managed just one point in the second half as Meath ran out 2-14 to 0-5 winners.

    More recently, Kerry were victorious in the 2009 semi-final (2-8 to 1-7) and in the Super 8s match in Navan in the summer of 2019 (2-18 to 1-13).

    There will be a full round of fixtures in the All-Ireland group stage this weekend with matches taking place on both Saturday and Sunday.

    In the other game in Group 4, Monaghan will take on Louth on Sunday at 3.30pm in Clones.

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    Kerry ladies must bounce back at home to Waterford

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    All-Ireland Senior Championship Group 2

    Kerry v Waterford

    Saturday 3pm

    Fitzgerald Stadium

    The Kerry ladies will be looking to get back to winning ways against Waterford on Saturday following last weekend’s frustrating draw against Donegal in Ballybofey.

    The Kingdom led with seconds remaining in treacherous conditions but a late Donegal free snatched a draw for the home side (Donegal 1-6 Kerry 0-9). It was a game that Kerry would have been expecting to win and the result puts a lot more pressure on them this weekend as they try to top the three-team group and earn a home quarter-final.

    If they beat Waterford and Donegal do likewise next week, Kerry and Donegal will be level in first place on four points each. The top seed will then be decided by the head-to-head record between the teams. As Kerry v Donegal was a draw, the deciding factor will be whoever scored the most points in that draw. That would be good news for Kerry as they scored nine points to Donegal’s six.

    When Kerry and Waterford last met (in this year’s Munster Championship), Kerry needed a late winner by Fiadhna Tangney to prevail by narrowest of margins (1-8 to 1-7). If Waterford beat Kerry and then lose to Donegal, Kerry would be eliminated from the championship.

    The Kerry squad has been boosted by the return of Síofra O’Shea who came off the bench against Donegal following a lengthy period out with a knee injury.

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    US-bound Kerry runner Lynch hopes to emulate Mageean magic

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    by Adam Moynihan

    Killarney middle distance runner Oisín Lynch is taking inspiration from newly crowned European 1500m champion Ciara Mageean as he gets set for the next stage of his career in the United States.

    This week Lynch confirmed that he will be heading Stateside after accepting a scholarship at Adams State University in Colorado. The promising 800m and 1500m competitor caught the eye of coaches at the leading American college after representing Ireland in the Youth Olympics and also by winning two national titles in recent months.

    Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, the 18-year-old Killarney Valley AC athlete, who is currently doing his Leaving Cert at St Brendan’s College, says he one day hopes to emulate Mageean’s heroics on the international stage.

    “The Irish are on the up at underage and at senior level,” Lynch notes. “We have been improving a lot in recent years. When you see Ciara Mageean winning the 1500m it just shows that it can be done by Irish people.

    “Sometimes Irish athletes don’t really believe in themselves when they’re getting knocked out of championships by English or European athletes. Mageean winning that European title is definitely something to drive me on. It shows that I can actually do it.”

    DREAM

    For Lynch, moving to the United States is a hugely significant step, and one that he has dreamed about making since he was a child.

    “It’s unbelievable. I always hoped I could earn a scholarship. I worked hard over the last few years, so it’s nice to see that work paying off.

    “I had a few schools onto me but when Adams State got in touch, I sized it up and I knew it was a really good opportunity.

    “The fact that the college is at 7,500 feet… That’s a crazy altitude. It’s double the height of Carrauntoohil. Altitude training has massive benefits for distance running and nowadays nearly every pro spends most of their year training at altitude. The chance to get that training for the next couple of years is great.

    “And their athletics programme is unbelievable. Coach Damon Martin has been there for 40 years and he has coached 12 Olympians. Adams State is in the top 15 for distance in the country and the standard out there in America is very high.”

    STRIDES

    Killarney Valley AC have made enormous strides since building their new, state-of-the-art facility in 2020 and Lynch is a grateful beneficiary of that progress.

    “I can’t thank the club enough. Going back a couple of years we were training on grass in parks. When you want to be a track runner, it’s just not the same. After a lot of hard work by a lot of good people, we managed to get a 200-metre track in Killarney. That’s massive for us and it’s all we need for training.

    “The coaches down there are putting in the hard work, including my dad (Con), Tomás Griffin, Jean Courtney, Jerry Griffin, Bríd Stack, Alan Delaney… I could go on. It’s a great club and there are some good athletes coming through. It’s an exciting time for Killarney Valley.”

    After Lynch completes his Leaving Cert, he will start preparing for life as a college athlete. He will study kinesiology in Colorado and on the track he hopes to keep on moving in the right direction. That means getting his times down (his current PBs are 1.50.59 over 800m and 3.51 over 1500m), representing Ireland, and hopefully winning a national title in America.

    “Obviously I’ll take every step as it comes,” the ambitious Kerryman says, “but the Olympics is the main long-term target, hopefully in LA in 2028.”

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