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Kerry brush Cork aside to reach another Munster final

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Adam Moynihan reports from Páirc Uí Rinn

Munster Championship Semi-Final

Cork 0-11 Kerry 0-23

A run of eight straight points between the 51st and 64th minutes lifted Kerry to what was ultimately a comprehensive victory over Cork at Páirc Uí Rinn.

Cork had frustrated their fiercest rivals up until then and some excellent kicking by Stephen Sherlock and Cathail O’Mahony had them trailing by the minimum.

With David Clifford being well marshalled by a combination of Kevin Flahive and Seán Powter, Kerry had struggled to find their rhythm but that string of unanswered scores finally put the contest to bed.

PERFECT

This match was played in front of a virtually full Páirc Uí Rinn in perfect conditions but, save for a Cork run around the 26-minute mark, it failed to really burst into life in the first half.

Kerry boast arguably the best forward division in the country but Cork’s Stephen Sherlock was the stand-out marksman of the opening period. He kicked the hosts first six points (the fifth was his first from play and also the score of the half).

David Clifford (two), Paudie Clifford, Stephen O’Brien and Séan O’Shea (two) had given The Kingdom a 7-3 lead with 20 minutes on the clock before Sherlock (three) and Cathail O’Mahony roused the home crowd by making it a draw game.

The visitors finished the half in the ascendancy, however, and a great point (as he was being fouled) by the excellent Diarmuid O’Connor and a Tony Brosnan score gave them a two-point half-time lead.

O’Mahony’s kicking kept the Rebels within striking distance at the beginning of the second half but the introduction of David Moran at midfield coincided with Kerry’s best spell of the match. With Gavin White also exploding into the game, Jack O’Connor’s side eased into fourth gear and left Cork in their wake.

Seán O’Shea accounted for a good portion of Kerry’s match-sealing points and subs Micheál Burns and Paul Geaney also got in on the act late on.

Cork’s second-half performance can perhaps be summed up by the fact that they scored just one point in the last 20 minutes. Kerry’s backs deserve credit here; corner back Graham O’Sullivan in particular caught the eye.

Speaking to the media after the match, Kerry manager Jack O’Connor said the game had “more or less” gone the way Kerry would have predicted.

“We expected a big battle from Cork. With all the controversy over the game being played here, they had no option but to battle and they did. And fair play to them. They gave us a great battle for 50 minutes.

“We needed all our experience off the bench to see out that game.”

KERRY: S Ryan; G O’Sullivan, J Foley, T O'Sullivan; B Ó Beaglaoich, G White, T Morley; D O’Connor (0-1), J Barry; S O’Brien (0-2), Seán O’Shea (0-10, 8f), A Spillane; T Brosnan (0-1), D Clifford (0-4, 3f), P Clifford (0-2).

Subs: P Geaney (0-2) for Brosnan, D Moran for Spillane, P Murphy for Ó Beaglaoich, M Burns (0-1), J O’Connor for D O’Connor.

CORK: M Martin; K O’Donovan (0-1), M Shanley, K Flahive; J Cooper, R Maguire, M Taylor; I Maguire, C O’Callaghan; D Dineen, S Powter, J O’Rourke; S Sherlock (0-6, 5f), B Hurley, C O’Mahony (0-3).

Subs: D Foley for Martin, D Gore for Hurley, T Corkery for Powter, E McSweeney (0-1) for Dineen, D Hayes for O’Rourke.

Attendance: 10,743

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Top Kerry GAA prospect Cillian Burke still weighing up AFL switch

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by Adam Moynihan

Highly-rated Kerry youngster Cillian Burke is set to travel to Australia later this year with a transfer to the Geelong Cats still potentially on the cards.

Conflicting reports sent the rumour mill into overdrive earlier this week with Burke said to be either AFL-bound or simply moving to Australia for a number of months before returning home at some point in 2025.

Although no official statement has been made by any of the relevant parties, the Killarney Advertiser understands that the talented 21-year-old is weighing up his options and he will make a decision on his future after spending some time Down Under in the latter part of 2024.

It is hoped, from a Kerry perspective, that he will decide against the switch, but it is feared that his head may already have been turned.

While few (if any) Kerry supporters would begrudge him his move, they would undoubtedly love to see the athletic middle-third player back in green and gold next season after he caught the eye as a substitute in recent matches. Despite his tender age and lack of experience (this was his first year on the senior panel), the Milltown/Castlemaine man was a game-changer in the All-Ireland quarter-final victory over Derry.

He was also influential in the semi-final against Armagh last weekend, scoring an important point in extra time and setting up another as favourites Kerry fell to an unexpected defeat.

With his impressive size, athleticism and ball skills, Burke could potentially have the makings of a future All-Star so losing him to the AFL would be a significant blow to The Kingdom and their chances of regaining the Sam Maguire trophy.

Geelong have a history of poaching Kerry talent. Pádraig Lucey (Killarney Legion) signed for the Cats in 2014, Mark O’Connor (Dingle) in 2016 and and Stefan Okunbor (Na Gaeil) in 2018.

Lucey and Okunbor later returned to Ireland having not made the inroads they would have been hoping for. Tralee native Okunbor has featured intermittently for Kerry since coming back but his progress has been severely hampered by a series of bad injuries.

O’Connor, meanwhile, has built a fine career for himself in Australia, winning the AFL Grand Final with the Victoria-based club in 2022.

Previously, Tadhg Kennelly (Listowel Emmets) and Tommy Walsh (Kerins O’Rahillys) played for the Sydney Swans. More recently, Rob Monahan (Ardfert) signed for Carlton in 2023.

Burke isn’t the only Kerry starlet currently on the radar of AFL scouts. Two members of this year’s Kerry U20 team, Charlie Keating (Dr Crokes) and Tomás Kennedy (Kerins O’Rahillys), are reportedly considering offers.

It is also believed that Aussie teams have their eyes on as many as four other Kerry prospects.

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‘There’s definitely more in me’ – Leahy feeling positive after close-run thing at nationals

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Kerry woman Sarah Leahy chats to Adam Moynihan about her recent outing at the National Outdoor Championships in Dublin. The Killarney Valley AC sprinter competed with the best of the best, including new Irish record holder Rhasidat Adeleke.

Adam Moynihan: You recently took part in the 100m final at the National Championships. How was that experience for you?

Sarah Leahy: Atmosphere-wise it was absolutely amazing. Just very good energy all around. And coming out for the final, obviously, Rhasidat brought a massive crowd. So that was really cool to be a part of because I don’t think there’s ever been a crowd that big at nationals before. To be in the final where so many people were there to watch her was obviously amazing.

What about the race itself?

I came fifth and ran a time of 11.74. On the day, with the whole excitement of it all, I was actually really happy with that. I was a bit disappointed but I was like, it’s a great day overall. I ran well, didn’t get a medal but I was really close. I didn’t get the perfect start like I did in the heat. So I was a little bit behind, but I just managed to come fifth in the end.

A week on, the excitement has kind of worn off, and I think there’s definitely a lot more in me. I could’ve pipped the third place But yeah, it is what it is. It was still good. I’m happy with it.

It was very tight for third place, wasn’t it?

Yeah, it was two-or-three-hundredths of a second and it was a blanket finish for four of us. So it was close but no cigar. Not this time. I came fifth last year as well, so I was hoping for at least fourth this year, but it ended up being the same. At least it wasn’t sixth! And there’s definitely more in me as well. Time-wise I’m just waiting for it to kind of happen a little bit. I believe it will. It was amazing to be in a race where a national record was broken.

And the standard was obviously very high across the board. All the big names were there.

It was a very high standard, yeah. Going in we kind of knew that first and second were gone (to Adeleke and Sarah Lavin). Everyone else was battling for that third medal and only one person could get it in the end. (Mollie O’Reilly got the bronze.) We were all close.

But overall I was super grateful to be in the mix, especially in a race that was that big. It’s one that will go down in history. It was a massive weekend and it was very enjoyable.

Rhasidat is a massive superstar now. What’s it like to run alongside her?

Rhasidat is a great athlete and a very nice girl. As you can see in interviews, she’s very humble. So to compete next to her, to literally be running in the lane right beside her, was amazing. I couldn’t have asked for more from the day in that respect. I thought she might have ran sub-11 because she did it before but she still got a national record. To be part of that race was a big deal for me.

Athletics in Ireland seems to be in a good place, particularly after the success the Irish team had in the recent European Championships in Rome. Does it feel like the sport is getting more attention and more recognition these days?

Oh 100%. Support for athletics has grown hugely in the last few years and I think it’ll continue to grow, especially with the success that Ireland had at the European Championships. I think the Olympics this year is going to drive that on even more because we have such great athletes going. The support is growing and rightfully so. The athletes are really getting the recognition they deserve. I think the future is very exciting for athletics in Ireland.

What about your own career? What’s next for you?

I have one last race of the season left, which is at the AAI Games on Sunday in Dublin. I’m hoping to just get a good run out, a good time, and execute the race well. Training will continue until the end of July, I’ll get a month off, and then we’re back training for indoors next year. I love indoors. I think I excel at that. There’s European Indoors and World Indoors next year, so to qualify for them would be a huge, huge goal.

As for outdoors, I’d like to get on the Irish relay team, but I’ll be focussing on indoors first. It should be a good year.

Are you enjoying it?

Yeah, I’m really enjoying it. I think sometimes you might put too much pressure on yourself and try to get a PB in every race but this year I’ve really learned that I’ve done the training, so it will happen when it happens. Just go out and run and let your body do its thing. And I’m actually really enjoying competing this year. I know I’m going to continue enjoying it for the next few years.

With the surrounding support of the club and coaches and my training group, it’s all going really well for me at the moment. I have no complaints at all. I’m very lucky.

Thanks for your time, Sarah, and all the best for the rest of the season.

Thank you very much, Adam. It was lovely talking to you.

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