Adam Moynihan reports from the Fitzgerald Stadium
Munster Championship Final
Kerry 1-28 Limerick 0-8
HT: Kerry 0-12 Limerick 0-03
The summer sun was blaring throughout this untraditional Killarney Munster final but things never really caught fire as Kerry breezed to a comfortable 23-point victory over Limerick.
Much of the pre-game talk surrounded the status of David Clifford, Kerry’s star player who was unexpectedly left out of the matchday 26. Thankfully the injury that ruled him out is not serious. In fact, it is believed that he could have played if needed and Jack O'Connor confirmed in his post-match press briefing that Clifford is likely to return to full training next week.
O'Connor also admitted that Kerry would "probably prefer to get a stiffer test" than the one they got from the Treaty. Worryingly, they now have a four-week layoff before their next match: an All-Ireland quarter-final on June 25/26.
Limerick were painfully slow with their restarts in the first half and their tactic of frustrating their illustrious neighbours worked - up to a point. Scores by Josh Ryan and Iain Corbett left them trailing by just two (0-4 to 0-2) with 20 minutes on the clock.
Kerry found their stride thereafter, however, and three straight points by Paul Geaney, Killian Spillane, and the industrious Paudie Clifford opened up a five-point lead.
The impressive Ryan gave the healthy travelling support something to shout about with a spectacular free from the terrace sideline but Jack O’Connor’s men finished the half in cruise control. A fisted effort by Gavin White, a beauty by Spillane, another fist by Seán O’Shea, a long-range kick by Brian Ó Beaglaoich, and a well-struck O’Shea 45 left Limerick chasing an insurmountable nine-point deficit at half-time.
The second half was a procession as The Kingdom fired over the first six points of the period. Iain Corbett popped up with his second of the day to make it a 14-point game but just seconds later Killian Spillane found himself in acres of space in front of the Lewis Road end and he made no mistake to register the first and only goal of the game.
Jack O’Connor ran his bench to give David Moran, Paul Murphy, Dylan Casey, Micheál Burns and Gavin Crowley some game time.
The thirstier members of the crowd began to slip back into town with 15 minutes to go. They had the right idea.
KERRY: S Ryan; G O’Sullivan, J Foley, T O'Sullivan (0-3); B Ó Beaglaoich (0-2), G White (0-1), T Morley; D O’Connor, J Barry; P Clifford (0-2), Seán O’Shea (0-6, 1f, 1 ’45), S O’Brien (0-1); T Brosnan (0-3), P Geaney (0-4, 1m), K Spillane (1-3).
Subs: D Moran for O’Connor (temp), A Spillane (0-1) for O’Brien, D Casey for Foley, D Moran for O’Connor, M Burns (0-2) for K Spillane, P Murphy for Morley, G Crowley for Ó Beaglaoich (temp).
LIMERICK: D O’Sullivan; S O’Dea, B Fanning, M Donovan; C Sheehan (0-3), I Corbett (0-2), P Maher; D Treacy, C Fahy; A Enright, B Donovan, J Naughton; P Nash, J Ryan (0-2, 1f, 1 ’45), H Bourke.
Subs: H Bourke for R Bourke, G Brown (0-1) for Maher, T Griffin for A Enright, C McSweeney for Nash, R Childs for Fanning.
Fossa on cusp of history as club from ‘nine square miles’ eyes senior status
Kerry IFC Final
Fossa v Milltown/Castlemaine
Austin Stack Park
Never before in the history of Kerry football has an Intermediate final attracted so much attention.
On Sunday, two clubs go head-to-head with a trophy and promotion on the line – but this high-profile encounter has far more riding on it than that.
In fact, the consequences of the outcome of this second-tier decider are going to be massive. If Fossa win, they will graduate to senior for the first time in their 53-year existence. It would represent a monumental achievement for the club from the small parish to the northwest of Killarney; few, if any, believed it would ever be possible given their lowly standing as recently as a few years ago.
With two generational talents at their disposal in the form of the Clifford brothers from Two Mile, they have rapidly risen through the ranks. Now they are seeking their second successive promotion following on from last year’s extra time win over Listry in the Junior Premier final.
And if the idea of Fossa going out on their own in the Kery Senior Football Championship wasn’t intriguing enough on its own, there’s more. A Fossa win would mean that East Kerry, winners of four of the last five titles, would lose their Fossa contingent for 2024. Most notable amongst that cohort are Paudie and David Clifford, unquestionably the district’s two most influential players.
There is plenty of intrigue from Milltown/Castlemaine’s perspective too. The Mid Kerry side are aiming to get back to senior level for the first time since being relegated in 2016 following defeat to Kilcummin in a playoff. They were not considered to be amongst the frontrunners for this competition before a ball was kicked, and possibly not after the group stage either, so victory this weekend would be sweet.
Of course, a Milltown/Castlemaine win would also have a huge bearing on the 2024 County Championship. Mid Kerry (runners-up in 2020, 2022 and 2023) stand to lose five starters if Milltown are promoted: Pa Wrenn, David Roche, Gavin Horan, Cillian Burke and Éanna O’Connor. Such a loss would greatly weaken their hand and widen the gap that already exists between them and the reigning champions. Add to that the fact that East Kerry will keep the Cliffords if Milltown/Castlemaine win, and the significance of this game is magnified further still.
There is so much at stake for all the invested parties in East and Mid Kerry, and there is plenty to consider for the neutral fan as well. Many would welcome the weakening of East Kerry’s squad as it would potentially lead to a more competitive County Championship. However, there is serious concern amongst Kerry supporters that the Cliffords are in need of a rest after a long couple of years with club and county. If Fossa prevail they will advance to the Munster Championship and possibly beyond if they manage to keep on winning. This would likely interfere with their star players’ off-season.
There’s no doubt that the nature of Fossa’s matches to date have whetted the appetite for this final. They were involved in exhilarating extra time victories over Castleisland and Austin Stacks in the previous rounds and more excitement of that nature would be more than welcome after a largely disappointing County Championship.
Milltown/Castlemaine also bring plenty to the table and although the momentum from their own semi-final heroics against Legion may have dwindled somewhat over the many weeks between then and now, they can certainly take heart from that result against one of the pre-tournament favourites.
It’s all set up to be a fascinating match-up and a large crowd is expected in Tralee for this one.
The match will also be streamed live by Clubber.
Home double header for St Paul’s and Scotts Lakers
The St Paul’s women’s and men’s teams are both in National League action this Saturday at Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre with their games tipping off at 4.30pm and 7.30pm respectively.
James Fleming’s ladies take on the Phoenix Rockets on the back of that disappointing cup exit at the hands of the Cavan Eagles a fortnight ago and they will be keen to get back to winning ways on home turf.
Paul’s have a perfect 100% record in Division 1 but they are sure to be tested by the Rockets, who gave a fine account of themselves over the course of the 2022/23 season.
They beat Paul’s in Lisburn last February, though the Killarney side exacted revenge in the playoffs in March. The Rockets have made an inconsistent start to the 2023/24 campaign picking up just two wins from the seven games played. The second of those victories came as recently last Saturday when they got the better of the Limerick Sport Eagles at home, but they fell to another defeat against the Huskies back up north the following day.
The Rockets are coached by former Ireland player Breda Dick, a woman who cites Killarney’s own Paudie O’Connor as her role model. Paudie was her first coach at international level and obviously left a huge mark on Breda.
Dick will be looking to the McGrath sisters Charly and Georgie to carry the torch for them as well as American signing Jay Ashby.
For Paul’s, Khiarica Rasheed has been building a good understanding with Sofia Paska and they will be keen to work on that partnership again on Saturday. In the absence of Lorraine Scanlon, who will be attending the LGFA All-Stars, Meabh Barry may be pushed up the ladder. Lynn Jones and Rheanne O’Shea will also be expected to play prominent roles.
Under the guidance of Coach Brian Clarke, Scotts Lakers have established a winning record of 4-2 and as a result they find themselves fifth out of 12 teams in Division 1 of the National League.
They claimed their latest win at home to the Dublin Lions last weekend (81-71) with Americans Braden Bell (26) and Terion Moss (25) accounting for the bulk of the scoring. Jamie O’Sullivan, Oisín Spring and Cian Forde also made their mark on the scoreboard.
Coach Brian Clarke was very pleased with the contribution of his subs on the night. “Our bench was ready to come on and make the difference and I can’t emphasis enough the importance of that,” he told club PRO Enda Walshe.
“Braden and Terion are great shot-makers but they also have a sharp eye for passes to their teammates. Oisín Spring, and Paul Clarke in previous games, are alive to that and make themselves available. It’s a great opportunity for our young players to make their mark and provided they continue to dedicate themselves to their craft, they will get to enjoy that.”
Next up for the Lakers is the visit of the Limerick Celtics on Saturday. The Shannonsiders are currently second in Division 1 having won five of their six matches to date.
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