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Kerry fans much more optimistic ahead of 2024 season, survey finds

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The annual Killarney Advertiser start-of-season survey has revealed Kerry supporters’ expectations for the 2024 campaign, which gets up and running today with a home league match against Derry.

After winning the All-Ireland in impressive fashion in 2022, fans went into the 2023 season knowing that few teams manage to achieve that feat in successive seasons.

As it turned out, The Kingdom struggled to replicate their All-Ireland-winning heroics, eventually falling short against Dublin in the final after a season that could be best described as a mixed bag.

They may have tempered their expectations last year but the results of our latest poll indicate that fans have much higher hopes for 2024.

76% of survey respondents think that Kerry will reach the All-Ireland final again this year with the vast majority of this cohort (62%) predicting that Sam Maguire will be returning to the Kingdom in July. This is a significantly higher percentage than last year when only 42% of supporters felt Kerry would claim the ultimate prize.

That means that 14% reckon Kerry will get to the final and lose, while roughly a quarter (24%) predict that they will fall at the semi-final stage.

At the beginning of last season, when asked what would constitute a “good” year for Kerry, 54% of those polled said only an All-Ireland title would do. Now, 79% of fans say they will only be happy if Kerry go all the way.

Last year, 32% said they would be content with reaching the All-Ireland final. This year, just 14% would accept another final appearance.

Neighbours Cork defeated Kerry in last weekend’s McGrath Cup final but, much like last year, it appears as though the green and gold faithful are placing little stock in that particular result. Once again, 96% of supporters expect Kerry to win the Munster Championship.

As for the National League, Kerry will be without some key first team players for the opening rounds, but supporters’ expectations are still markedly higher than last year.

Roughly 41% think that Kerry will win Division 1 (up from 21% in 2023) and 17% think they will get to the final and lose.

A good number of fans have been more conservative with their predictions, though: 42% are projecting a third or fourth place finish.

When asked which three opponents Kerry should be most wary of in 2024, most fans picked out All-Ireland champions Dublin (87%) and Derry (83%). Galway (43%) also received a significant portion of the votes. Mayo (13%) came in fourth.

Jack O’Connor’s side host Derry in Austin Stack Park this evening in their first competitive outing of the season. Throw-in is at 5.30pm. The match will be televised on RTÉ.

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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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