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‘Kerry needs a League of Ireland team’ – Treaty star Matt Keane

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by Adam Moynihan

Former Killarney Celtic and current Treaty United player Matt Keane is hopeful that Kerry will be able to field a senior League of Ireland team “sooner rather than later”.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser ahead of this evening’s preseason friendly between his new and previous clubs, Keane said that local players need a platform to prove themselves at the highest level. In his view, having a senior Kerry team competing in the LOI is the perfect pathway.

“There’s good work being done underage by people like Billy Dennehy and others,” Keane said. “The U17s got to a national final a couple of years ago and the U19s won a lot of their games last year. Hopefully, in the next year or two, Kerry will have a senior League of Ireland team. I think it needs to happen, and the sooner it happens the better.”

The Kilcummin man is looking forward to his second year in the LOI after establishing himself as an important player during Treaty’s debut season in the First Division. Having seen the standard up close, he is certain that more budding Kerry footballers can follow in his footsteps.

“More Kerry players could make that step up, definitely. But they have to experience the higher level and then push on. When you’re training at a professional level and playing top-class players every week, that’s only going to improve your game.

“There is definitely the potential for more Kerry players to play League of Ireland, but there needs to be an environment and a platform for that to happen. It cuts off at U19s now in Kerry and then fellas are thinking, “what am I going to do?”, and maybe they go back playing GAA. Something needs to be done to give players in Kerry that opportunity to play League of Ireland.”

PLEASED

On a personal level, Keane admitted that it took some time to acclimatise to the LOI, but ultimately he was pleased with his first season as a semi-pro.

“I think I played in every game throughout the season so I was happy enough with that. It was definitely a massive step up. The first few games especially, we were going up to Tolka Park and places like that and I was kind of going, “jeez, will I ever get up to speed?” You’d be blowing after the matches.

“But I think around the second round of games I started getting into it, and by the third round of games I felt like I had been doing it for a couple of years. I suppose I gradually built myself up to the standard.”

Under manager Tommy Barrett, Treaty were very much entering unknown territory in 2021 but the Limerick club gave a fine account of themselves. Keane is confident that he and his teammates can build on that experience and continue to improve into 2022.

“Last season was very good. There wasn’t much expected of us at the start of the year but we ended up getting a playoff spot. And we were very unlucky in the playoffs. We lost 3-0 at home to UCD – they picked us off for two goals at the end when we went gung ho, but we felt we were as good as them. Then in the second leg we were 2-0 up and looked like getting a third, but we got a man sent off with half an hour to go, so that was a killer. They ended up getting promoted so it shows how close we are.

“We’ve made some good signings this year, bringing in a couple of Premier-standard players. We’ll be hoping to at least make the playoffs again, but we know it’s going to be very tough going up against the likes of Cork City, Waterford and Galway.”

FRIENDLY

As part of their preparations for the new campaign, Treaty are visiting Keane’s old stomping ground tonight (7.30pm) to take on Kerry District League kingpins Killarney Celtic. Brian Spillane’s side are midway through their own domestic season and they are strong favourites to win their fourth Kerry league title in a row. They recently gave Treaty’s rivals Cork City a game before succumbing to a respectable 3-1 defeat.

It's safe to say that Celtic are the dominant force in Kerry at the moment and some of their players would surely relish the opportunity of joining Keane in the LOI. While accepting that his former team are leading the way in Kerry, Keane reiterated that if players are to push on, they need an appropriate pathway to do so.

“Yeah, I suppose Celtic are out in front,” the 25-year-old teacher said. “They have some very good players – players who I think would be capable of playing League of Ireland. You see there some weekends Celtic are beating teams 5-0 or 6-0. To be honest, I don’t think that’s going to push any player on.

“But it’s tough for a player in Kerry to push on to League of Ireland anyway when there are no local clubs playing at that level.

“Hopefully now with all the work being done at underage, Kerry can get a League of Ireland team so that every local player has that platform to step up.”

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Opponent gets 10-match ban for using discriminatory language towards Kerry player

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A rival player has been suspended for using discriminatory language in a match against Kerry FC, the League of Ireland has confirmed.

The FAI’s Independent Disciplinary Committee handed Harry Curtis of UCD a 10-match ban for the offence, which took place during the game between the two sides in Mounthawk Park, Tralee last week.

Curtis was sent off in injury time. UCD won the game 2-1.

“An Independent Disciplinary Committee of the FAI has sanctioned UCD AFC player Harry Curtis for using discriminatory language towards a Kerry FC player in the SSE Airtricity Men’s First Division fixture on 10 May 2024,” a League of Ireland statement read.

“The FAI and League of Ireland maintains a strict zero tolerance approach towards any act of discrimination and are committed to ensuring that League of Ireland matches remain a safe and welcoming environment for everyone.

“In accordance with FIFA Regulations and the FAI Disciplinary Regulations, Harry Curits will serve a 10-match suspension. Please note the decision of the Independent Disciplinary Committee may be appealed.”

Kerry FC issued the following statement welcoming the ban: “We condemn discrimination in football and are constantly working to kick it out of the game.

“Mounthawk Park and Kerry FC is a community where everyone is welcome regardless of race, ethnicity, and other diverse backgrounds.

“We would like to thank the Independent Disciplinary Committee in the FAI for their continued efforts and dedication to keeping discrimination out of the game.”

Last week Dundalk goalkeeper George Shelvey was also suspended for 10 games for abusing referee Rob Harvey.

Kerry FC were also involved in two alleged cases of racial abuse last season. In September, they claimed a Longford Town player aimed a “racial remark” at one of their players. The matter was referred to An Garda Síochána.

Earlier in the 2023 season, Kerry released a statement condemning racist online comments that had been made about the black players in their squad.

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TEAM NEWS: Kerry and Monaghan name starting 15s for Killarney showdown

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All-Ireland SFC Group 4

Kerry v Monaghan

Saturday 3pm

Fitzgerald Stadium

Live on GAAGO

Jack O’Connor has rewarded Munster final Man of the Match Tony Brosnan with a spot in Kerry’s starting 15 for Saturday’s All-Ireland group phase opener against Monaghan.

Brosnan kicked three points from play a fortnight ago and he retains his place in a forward division that also includes Dara Moynihan, Paudie Clifford, Seánie O’Shea, David Clifford and the recalled Paul Geaney.

Dingle veteran Geaney starts in place of youngster Cillian Burke, who drops to the bench.

Shane Ryan returns in goal instead of Shane Murphy while the back six and midfield remain unchanged from the seven-point victory in Ennis.

Graham O’Sullivan is a notable absentee from the matchday 26. The Dromid defender’s groin injury was described by O’Connor as “minor” after the Clare game, which O’Sullivan also missed.

Monaghan manager Vinny Corey has also named his side for tomorrow’s Sam Maguire encounter at the Fitzgerald Stadium and he has made five changes from the Farney Army’s last outing (the Ulster preliminary round defeat to Cavan on April 7).

Four of those switches come in attack as Stephen O’Hanlon, Micheál Bannigan, Michael Hammill and Seán Jones replace Garland, Irwin, Loughran and McCarron.

Experienced midfielder Darren Hughes, who was forced off with a knee injury in that match in Clones six weeks ago, is unavailable and is replaced by Micheál McCarville.

Rory Beggan starts in goal after a potential move to the Carolina Panthers in the NFL did not materialise. Talismanic forward Conor McManus will wear the number 15 jersey.

The last time these teams met was in the league at St Tiernach’s Park in February. Kerry prevailed on a scoreline of 3-15 to 1-12.

Tickets for Kerry v Monaghan can be purchased here for €25. Three-match bundles for the entire group stage are also available for €50.

The match will not be televised but it will be streamed on GAAGO.

KERRY TEAM

1. Shane Ryan

2. Paul Murphy

3. Jason Foley

4. Tom O’Sullivan

5. Brian Ó Beaglaoich

6. Tadhg Morley

7. Gavin White

8. Diarmuid O’Connor

9. Joe O’Connor

10. Tony Brosnan

11. Paudie Clifford

12. Dara Moynihan

13. David Clifford

14. Seánie O’Shea

15. Paul Geaney

Subs: Shane Murphy, Cillian Burke, Seán O’Brien, Adrian Spillane, Barry Dan O’Sullivan, Dylan Casey, Stephen O’Brien, Mike Breen, Killian Spillane, Darragh Roche, Armin Heinrich.

MONAGHAN TEAM

1. Rory Beggan

2. Ryan Wylie

3. Kieran Duffy

4. Ryan O’Toole

5. Karl O’Connell

6. Killian Lavelle

7. Conor McCarthy

8. Gary Mohan

9. Micheál McCarville

10. Stephen O’Hanlon

11. Micheál Bannigan

12. Michael Hamill

13. Ciarán McNulty

14. Seán Jones

15. Conor McManus

Subs: Darren McDonnell, Jack McCarron, Stephen Mooney, Dessie Ward, Ryan McAnespie, David Garland, Jason Irwin, Andrew Woods, Barry McBennett, Joel Wilson, Thomas McPhillips.

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